Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Poll for you Agented Authors

To this aged-IT-guy connected ethereally to the Internet, I've never understood why any agent in this day and time would stick to kill-tree-mail queries.

I figured I didn't want to work with anyone unwilling to accept technology. (Figure they still avoid painless dentistry.)

Further, I figure they only accept snail mail because they really don't want unsolicited queries.

So...I have only queried those embracing this century.

But am I nutz? How many of you snagged your agents via snail-mail. How many via e-mail queries?

Drop me a note, if you don't wish to leave a comment?



  1. I do think some agents use snail mail as a way of filtering out people who aren't really serious. I mean money changes everything, doesn't it? Even if it's only a couple of dollars to mail a partial, it keeps some people from querying.

    I'm not agented (yet!). I think I've only sent three snail mail queries and none of them resulted in requests. All of my ms requests have come from e-mail or in person conference meets so far.

  2. We, as authors of the stuff we write, need to be clear why we do it and what we want as the result of finishing a manuscript. We can save a lot of time, money and heartache if we know the answers from the onset.

    My take is that most write for two reasons: 1) self-satisfaction, and 2) money. All the other reasons, if any, fall into the first category. In fact, money can be found there, too. I only break it out separately, because many believe money is a measure of self-worth.

    So self-satisfaction is the real reason for writing. What does that mean? Here’s where most will think I’m crazy but humor me. Read on.

    So if I can attract the eye of an agent or a publisher, then my work must be good and I’m not a lost cause. Because the odds being “published” are about on par with winning the lottery, whether your stuff is any good or not, this is a fairly risky way of maintaining one’s self-esteem. And judging from the generally poor quality of what makes it to the bookshelves, I’m rarely comfortable thinking about being amongst that company. Crazy, I know. Of course, EVERYONE should want to be published in the traditional way. I can’t afford it. (continued below)

  3. What’s pathetic, well beyond sad, is what is expected of today’s newly published author: The hours and gas of driving from one little dying bookstore to another hawking another book among the thousands yet to clear a dime, doing book club talks, radio spots at 7am on a Sunday mornings, and other such nonsense—all for self-satisfaction. Crazy? Yep, certifiable, my friends.

    The final straw for me is how little the vast majority of authors are rewarded for their work, if and when they’re published. Don’t do the dollars-per-hour-invested math or you’ll wonder who the really crazy one is here.

    Tack on the hours and hours of querying agents, begging for a look-see, kissing up for a dressing down, countless rewrites based on their whims and market fancies – all for a few pennies and a pat on the back. Need I say more? Who’s the crazy one now?

    Isn’t the definition of crazy doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results? Yep, crazy, for sure.

    These are the hard, cold facts. Call me a cynic, fair enough. But I don’t mean to be discouraging in any sense of that word. Nor am I an elitist, that I’m “too good” to be published. Quite the opposite: My fear is some mediocre piece of mine makes it to print that I’ll regret for the rest of my life. (Is anything ever good enough? That’s another conversation.)

    I’m really an optimistic pragmatist: I just don’t see how traditional publishing works for anyone but the already established. There has to be another way that’s easier on the self-esteem, one’s pocket book and patience, one that’s more about instant gratification than… well, whatever.

    Some will consider self-publishing. If you haven’t seen your stuff on someone else’s cellulous (that you pay for), it’s a viable option, but this, too, seems an expensive means of self-satisfaction. You do get to keep more of the money when you sell a book. That part I like.

    Many should consider e-publishing. There, I said it. Heretic! Sorry, fact is that a decade from now paper will find its home next to the old manual typewriter in the attic. Never! Yeah, I thought film cameras would be here forever, too. Kindles, what a joke, I could never…. The only constant is change. The sooner we embrace the future, the more success we’ll have.

    For most of us, it’s time to look to the future… to maintain our self-satisfaction. If traditional publishing is our only measure, I wish you well. Someone needs to; few, if any publishers, will. And besides, you become a viable thing, the paper boys will be knocking on your door.

    We all hope that others find what we write of interest. I don’t care how much of an elitist you are. Having others enjoy our work is a happy by-product of self-satisfaction, maybe a huge part. In order to do that, we have to find our audience. Publishers did that for years. Now with the internet… I have to ask “why publishers?”.

    If folks don’t care for our work, they won’t buy it, no matter what form it’s in.
    Another way of saying that is if folks like our work, then they don’t care what form it’s in. Whoa! Think about that. Shouldn’t we go after the biggest audience we can find?

    Finally, if money is a driving force, think about this: Like all business, the money is in the repeat customer, not the first time purchase. If we coddle to our customer basis (first-time purchasers of our work, captured and tracked by email addresses), we stand a good chance of getting our second dime from them on the second book.

    I could go on here, discussing marketing, and advertising, etc. but that’s for another time, a time when you’ve run out of stamps and ink… again.