No e-mails, please

December 16, 2009

As I research literary agents, deciding which to query when the time comes, I’ve noticed that some don’t accept e-mail queries.

Any idea why they do this?

My first reaction is that an agent who doesn’t accept e-mail queries isn’t Web-savvy, hasn’t reached the level of comfort with the Internet that I’d want in an agent. Why do I want an agent who’s Web-savvy? It’s not just that I hope to communicate with my agent via e-mail once she’s agreed to take me on as a client. So much of book promotion is now online. When my travel memoir is published, I plan to market it using my Web site, social networking, Skype (with book clubs), an online book trailer, a book blog tour, etc. I’ll expect my agent to advise me — or at least know and understand what I’m up to — during that process. Is it possible that she knows about all these online promotion avenues if she doesn’t accept e-mail queries?

On the other hand, I’m sure plenty of these snail-mail-only agents are perfectly capable of doing their jobs.

So why don’t they accept e-mail queries? Is it because that helps them weed out wannabe authors who aren’t serious enough about their work to send a letter via snail mail? Or they worry that a great query will end up in the spam box? Or are they really not Web-savvy enough to manage e-mail queries?

Can anybody shed light on this? Would you query an agent who only accepts snail mail?

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    0 Replies to “No e-mails, please”

    • Jamie says:

      I would, and I have. I read an interview with one that said they did accept e-mail queries for a while, but the overall quality was so poor that she had to stop. She thinks that people will put more time and effort into the project when they actually have to go the post office and fork over some cash. I can see her point.

    • Karen Walker says:

      I queried agents who didn’t accept email queries. It makes sense to me. I wouldn’t assume that it means they aren’t web-savvy.

    • I wouldn’t limit myself to only those agents who accept email queries. I think some agents worry about opening up attachments that may contain a computer virus.

    • I would. And have. I tend to stay away from agents who don’t have any web presence (no email at all, no website), but that’s more because I can’t find out anything about them. It’s probably just a personal preference. For some people it’s easier to scan and sort paper than emails. You could have 3 piles of paper: reject, re-read, ask for partial/full now! If there’s an agent you really want to work with who accepts snail mail only, don’t let it stop you!

    • Carolyn Yalin says:

      I don’t think it has anything to do with them being web-savvy or not. I think some of them don’t accept emails because they are too easy for writers to send, and not research if they are being sent to the right agent, i.e. do they accept the type of work being queried.
      I think one of the agents did a blog about this once, but I can’t remember who, sorry.

    • Elana says:

      There’s definitely more than one school of thought on this, so I can only add why I’m an e-query only kind of agent.

      Mostly it comes down to this:
      – I hate wasting paper.
      – I don’t want to carry around more than I need to.

      The web-savviness and internet-friendliness is part and parcel to that preference, and I know I’m in a league of younger, and more tech-minded agents. We like the internet. We like email. Old methods are obsolete and wasteful in very many ways, and will only be more so with digital taking over everything.

      But our preferences absolutely do not speak to our quality or reputations as agents. You might be able to loosely divide e-query v. snail mail people along age-lines, but that’s all.

      So it’s really a matter of what you want in an agent if that’s a factor. I’m of the philosophy that the internet is here, I am friends with it, and will use it as best as possible. That includes marketing and promotion on behalf of my clients. Though even that is probably something you’ll hear more from the newer guard, rather than the older guard.

    • You know, I think I’d give those agents a pass. It would make me wonder if they were too low-tech to deal with on a professional basis. Do they snail mail manuscripts to publishers? Do they use Track Changes when we work revisions?

      Mystery Writing is Murder

      • Alexis Grant says:

        Great comments here. Thanks, everyone, for weighing in!

        Even though most everyone here says they’d query agents who only accept snail mail, I think I’m with you, Elizabeth. It’s important for me to click with my agent, and my world is fairly Internet-centric. Unless a certain snail-mail-only agent really catches my eye, I plan to stick with e-queries.

    • jessiecarty says:

      I wouldn’t necessarily toss the agents out but if I could not find a web page for them or a web presence then I would definitely pass them over.

      I would also, most assuredly, lean towards the agents that did accept email queries 🙂

      Good luck!

    • julielomoe says:

      Hi, Alexis! Like you, I’d only want an agent who is Internet-savvy, so I’d bypass any who don’t accept e-mails.

      An author friend has a reputable agent whom she’s suggested I query, using her as a reference, but the agent doesn’t have a web page, and when I Googled her, although there were no negative comments, she didn’t have much of a presence on the Net. So my gut instinct told me to pass her up. I’m waiting till I have a really super Internet presence, and I won’t resume querying till then. I’ll want an agent who finds that exciting. (I’ve now got over 22,000 hits, so I must be doing something right!)

      Julie Lomoe’s Musings Mysterioso

    • I would also prefer someone that didn’t mind email queries, especially since I live in Europe and international postage can get expensive. But if they have a good web presence and they seem like a good match, I wouldn’t let a “no email query” stipulation stop me from pursuing them. But I would think that an agent interested in a book with an international scope would be email friendly. At least I would hope.

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