Question: Is is worthwhile responding with a short 'thank you' even when an agent passes? It seems like good manners, but knowing how full an agent's inbox might be with more pressing stuff, I wonder whether its worth it. Is sending that gesture of civility likely to be remembered? Will it just make them annoyed at more stuff in their inbox?
Thanks in advance for your opinion.
The answer to your question is: No. Do not send us a thank you note if we have rejected you. We won't really be mad at you, but we will be annoyed at more stuff for us to deal with, especially if everyone started doing it.
I'll make a larger point clear here and try to dispel a rumor. Back when I was hanging out at Writer.net and trying to perfect my own query letter about 4 years ago, there was a going rumor that you should send a thank-you card or note or whatever because agents log in the name and title of your novel in their massive agency database. Also, if you try to resubmit with a better query, you should change the title so that when we go to our database, it doesn't show up as already submitted.
We don't have a database.
I have never worked for an agent or known an agent who kept track of rejections, even of partials or fulls. It would be a massive effort and a complete waste of time. Publishing companies have the time and money to do that sometimes. I know that DAW does keep rejections on file because I got rejected by the rejection was lost in the mail and I called them to check on it and they looked it up. Agents do not do this.
I don't remember names. I don't remember the names of my friends or outer family members. I don't remember the names of teachers I've had recently or even current professors. Even if I want to remember your name, I will probably fail horribly. And I'm not much better with titles, because titles are pretty generic most of the time. But I am really, really awful with names. I will open 50 envelopes, read fifty query letters, reject all but three, and not remember anything except the plotlines of some of them. I tend to have a good memory for plotlines, but not names and dates. I'm worst than most people in this particular category of being a human being, but it doesn't affect my work. It just serves to make a lot of family functions very awkward.
Many people write their questions anonymously, or make comments anonymously, in some kind of fear that I will see their query at some point and reject them because of something they said a year before. This is not true. I will not remember, even if by some cosmic karma they do end up hitting my agency and I open the envelope. So, have no fear.