Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Guardian Kings

A Guardian King.
Early 14th century.

If you've been around for a while, you may have noticed a certain global warming in the industry.
The number of blogging agents and editors has risen.
Now you have to take off your bunny slippers to count them.
A good thing if you want to dip your cold little toes in the rising waters.
Further, observers claim that more and more agents are accepting e-queries. Quite a sea-change.
One argument against e-queries never made much sense to me:
The pre-selection of unknown submitters by means of a merely mechanical operation.
That the physical act of putting together a submission package and trotting off to a postal outlet indicates some quality of dedication, some solemn and grave and serious intent by a writer.
The obverse being, I suppose, that anyone hitting send is an idle layabout. A lazy apprentice, unwilling to practise the proper rituals.
Pardon me, but I think this is a bullshit justification.
Makes me wonder if the same attitude prevailed when typewritten manuscripts began to replace fine copperplate.
Agents and editors may prefer hard copy for any number of very good reasons.
I don't happen to think this is one of them.
Further, it reinforces, by its physical emphasis, a sense of entitlement by some writers: that they are owed attention because they have put so much work into producing a manuscript.


December Quinn said...

I agree. While I understand some agents/editors prefer hard copies (and part of me does too, simply because I've always felt hard copies feel more professional somehow. By which I mean writing on screen always somehow looks less polished to me), the more agents who accept e-queries, the less writers we have complaining about how submissions cost money and all they get in return is a cheap crooked photocopy or a rejection letter.

Erik Ivan James said...

Maybe part of the agent/editor justification for not accepting e-queries is the fact that almost everyone has a wordprocesser. And, everyone thinks they can write a included. Accepting only hard-copy queries might be to keep an already overwhelming stack of queries from becoming overwhelming to the extreme. Ummm...just a thought.

James Goodman said...

Oh,I have great hopes that someday everyone in the industry will make the move to e-submissions.

My last go round with the query process, I moved all of the agents who wouldn't take e-queries to the bottom of the list.

I'm sure they won't feel my absence, but it just seemed like a logical move for me...

Bernita said...

I wonder if it may also because hard copy just seems more real to many people, December.
More tangible, less, well, abstract.

I think that reasoning puts them in the Canute camp, Erik.

Certainly, e-queries have their attractions, James. Especially regarding the time factor - for both parties.

Ric said...

Agents are trying to come to grips with the new information age. Saw a comment by an older agent who said - back in the old days, when a writer produced a manuscript by retyping it on a real typewriter a dozen times, the quality and committment showed.

Now, anyone can send 50 queries with no paper, no stamps, is it a wonder they are overwhelmed?

writtenwyrdd said...

I confess, if I were an agent, I'd want to get snail mail queries. I would take email queries, seeing as it is more efficient; but the act of reading on the screen is really difficult for me for some reason. I'd really hate to have electronic fulls and partials to read!

don't you find it difficult to read long text documents on the screen?

Bernita said...

Back in the "old days," Ric, I imagine they got proportionate number of MSS written in pencil too.

Eye-sight is, of course, a legitimate reason for an agent to prefer one form over another, Written.
Some agents take written queries and subsequent partials and fulls electronically; some agents do the reverse.
I have this thingy on my e-mail that allows me to enlarge the font of received e-mails.
However, IF an agency accepts e-queries, I think they should be given the same weight and attention as ones that overburden the mailboy.
I really dislike to read comments by agents that suggest that while they accept e-queries - they tend to ignore them.
That, I think, is dishonest.

Cynthia Bronco said...

I wish I could send partial or full ms's via email as well. I suspect agents like to read hard copies, and don't want to take the time or ink to print them out themselves.
It sure would save us a lot of money if we could do everything electronically.
Eventually, everyone succombs to new technology.

Ric said...

Miss SNark just put up a post on this very subject.

Bernita said...

Cynthia, I believe some do just that. Agent Kristin for one.

Thank you, Ric!
While I would love to polish my fingernails on my lapel, I won't.
Lori Perkins(?) had something similar a few days ago.

Robyn said...

I think they have to take e-mail queries at some point. It's the world we live in; a billionaire banker can accept money transferred over the internet instead of a courier hand carrying cash to his desk, but some editor thinks sending electronic query letters makes me a lazy whore? Please.

Bernita said...

Exactly, Robyn.
I don't see anything particularly conducive to quality about folding paper, sealing envelopes, and licking stamps.
Funny thing is - being post-Luddite - sending an e-query is as much work for me as mailing one in the traditional form.

anna said...

Personally I find it much easier to read stuff on paper; I think that's why e-books has never really caught on .. crying for the trees..
Granted it is much cheaper to email and quicker but imo I don't think we'll ever get rid of paper.

I wonder about this influx of agents and editors. Are they newbies jumping on the bandwagon hoping for a fast buck or are the old hands just coming to terms with electronics?

Bonnie Calhoun said...

"Pardon me, but I think this is a bullshit justification."

LOL...tell us how you really feel, my dear Bernita! You really crack me up!

I think it is a case of old-school vs new-school. I equate it on the same plane as those in literary fiction who are snobby against commercial fiction. what gets you published!

Bernita said...

Not too sure any "buck" is quick for literary agents, Anna. Not the legitimate ones anyway.
Lori Perkins has been an agent for 20 years, Kristin Nelson for 5.

Bernita said...

Hee, Bonnie!
I just resent being cultivated as a mushroom.
I think there is a lot in what you say about old school vs. new school.

spyscribbler said...

You're totally right! Although, I prefer the old-fashioned agents, simply because often, when an agent will accept e-queries, they don't want sample pages.

I like the agents who want to see the first five or ten pages with a query. Gives me some hope that at least a page of mine will fall out, even if my query sucks, LOL.

Bernita said...

I haven't sent out enough queries that I have to take off my bunny slippers to count them, Spy, but some do like a page or so within the body of the query e-mail, and I hope the number of those who prefer that will increase - because it's practical.

Gabriele C. said...

I'll query agents who prefer email. It's easier from Germany, and lord knows how often stuff gets lost between Germany and the US (ask my aunt who has a daughter living near Los Angeles). I won't mind sending a manuscript because in that case you can ask the agent if she's got it, but you can't ask if they got the query letter.

Jaye Wells said...

To me, the benefit of the snail mail submission is that you can easily give the agent some sample pages. Sometimes, this cuts through the extra step of sending a partial and gets straight to the full request (thus cutting a few months out of the submission cycle). I have seen some agents who are starting to request that you post the first five or ten pages in the body of the email though, so maybe it's starting to catch on.

raine said...

Amen and thank you.

I can relate to editors/agents whose reasoning is poor eyesight. Definitely.

And I can even understand them accepting e-mail queries, but asking for the partial/full by snail mail even. An electronic query reads fast, and there's less paper to wade through.

But not to accept e-queries at all? No, I don't quite get it.

Bernita said...

E-queries are a boon to us in the international set, Gabriele.

Seems simple and efficient to me, Jaye.
And no tottering piles and paper cuts.

Raine,I wonder if the more e-wise agents will be the "agents of change" here.
One agent refused to submit to an editor who would not accept e-subs - found someone else within the company.

kmfrontain said...

I'd hate having to sort through snail mail queries. Last time I had mail coming from all over the world, I kept all the envelopes and ended up with a massive stack (I was sharing kefir grains to anyone that wanted them, if you were wondering.) Eventually I threw out all mail with ordinary stamps, but hey. That's no way to choose which letters should remain on file. Easier to keep everything on a hard drive.

writtenwyrdd said...

The beauty of email is that it is so easily organized. Drag to folder, it's organized.

As far as including the first few pages with a query, you can dump the text into the email adn do the same thing, I suppose.

It might be hard to read, but the technology of email is so convenient.

Zany Mom said...

I just wrote a post about how I thought e-queries would be more reliable since the snail mail has failed me twice this month. And then the post got eaten by the cyber-gods.

Maybe the whole universe is conspiring against me!!

Scott from Oregon said...

I am still of the mind that those who are meant to write and create something extraordinary, can self publish at this juncture of history and be ssuccessful.

I really DO think the old apparati are falling and you better "get out of the way if you can't lend a hand..."

Now I have to go look up how to pluralize apparatus...

Bernita said...

Certainly would save the complaints about the tottering piles of submissions, Karen.

The irony, Zany.
No system is perfect, but electronic is cheaper and easier to compensate when those inevitable glitches occur.

There always have been printers, Scott, even before there were publishers. Perhaps the wheel has spun round again.

Seems there are functions that compensate for anything "hard to read," Written.