Rants, Raves, & Random Thoughts

Shameless self-promotion of my writing skills or lack there of.

Friday, February 02, 2007

The Great Debate

Horror literary agent extraordinaire, Lori Perkins has an interesting outlook on the rise of technology in the publishing industry. Please stop by her blog to read the entire post.

In this day and age, where email outshines most all forms of communication, does it make since to incur the cost of printing out a three hundred page manuscript that may or may not be accepted by a prospective agent? It seems that more and more agents are making the move to email submissions (or at the very least electronic forms from their websites). It is tempting, when preparing one’s query, to only add agents that accept electronic submissions to the big list.

Yet, there are many great agents out there that still only accept snail mail submissions. What are the pros of resisting e-submissions? Why haven’t all agents moved to this media? Perhaps, it’s a means of slush control.

It is my understanding that the slush pile is both the bane and life’s blood of any agent (or editor for that matter). If the pile grows by some hundred submissions a month, what will happen to the slush pile when all an aspiring writer has to do is it send? It grows to a near unmanageable size.

By submitting electronically, the writer has nothing to lose really. It cost them virtually no out of pocket and if the agent says no, there are several others out there that might say yes. It takes a certain amount of commitment and belief in one’s work to print out the pages, compile the work, check it three or four dozen times, stand in line at the post office and finally see it shipped out to the (we hope) appropriate party. With the advent of email submissions, what would normally take the better part of a morning, will only take a few seconds. With those extra hours free, an author has plenty of time to send out several more queries, perhaps even dozens in a given morning.

Another reason may be reading habits. It has been suggested, in certain circles, that one can’t make an accurate assessment of a piece of work through an email as one has a tendency to skim. If you are physically holding pages, are you less likely to skim? Maybe, maybe not. My bet is that the speed with which a proposal is read is influenced more by the size of the slush pile it come from, than the media with which it was received.

Whatever the reason, the fact remains the same: Agent X will not accept e-submissions. How long will they be able to resist the pull of technology? As long as he or she wants. Let’s face it, as long as there are more agents than aspiring writers (dear God, help us all if it is the other way around), agents can have their submissions any damn way they please.

I, for one, am thrilled that more agents are accepting e-submissions. When I compiled my list for this go around, I put all of the agents that accepted email submissions on the top. How about you? How do you prefer to handle the process?

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At 5:50 AM, Blogger Leslie said...

Save a few stamps!

At 7:32 AM, Blogger Breazy said...

I think the email would be good but that is because I don't have a lot of time to stop by the post office and stand in line. Plus it keeps more money in my pocket. Have a good day!

At 8:54 AM, Blogger lime said...

hhmm, some very interesting points. i have to admit, for something of book length i want the freedom to carry it with me when i run an errand or so i can curl up in a chair somewhere, though i realize i am not reading as an editor would.

At 4:30 AM, Blogger Bernita said...

Good post, James!

At 10:23 AM, Blogger Donnetta Lee said...

James: I have had a terrible time trying to leave you a comment today. Can't figure it out. Well, here goes but you may not receive it!

When I was writing nonfiction professional articles, I submitted stories directly to the publisher through email. This was great. Instant communication. The fiction pieces I've sent to magazines has been both as hard copy and by computer submission. I much preferred computer. Having said that, I don't have the experience you folks have had with agents or lengthy literary submissions. Seems that computer submission would save time and effort. ?? Donnetta


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