Why Miss Snark Hates E Queries

From the cheap seats comes this call from a Snarkling in training.

Lovely Miss Snark, you know, with the copious amounts of gin you claim to enjoy, living with an artist, snarking up a storm, and jaded as you are from the New Yorky having "been there and done that" (despite the fact that you're probably no older than your early thirties--if that)do tell me something, wouldja? Where did you come up with the oh-so-rigid policy of not accepting e-queries?

Some of us simply will not consider an agent if we are told we must send a query by snail.
How can you possibly expect to compete with all those young (and not so young) agents who are eager to read and respond to the good stuff as soon as it comes in?

I once sent a few line e-query for a non-fiction book. The agent happened to get it immediately and respond back within two minutes to send the complete 50 page proposal. I sent it by e-mail attachment. Within 11 minutes she wrote back saying she read it and wanted to sign me...Ultimately, I didn't go to the dance with her but my point is: How can you compete with this kind of cyber-speed when you're locked into the snail mail thing?

Is it not time to reconsider being in the dark ages with this query by snail mail policy now that you are beginning to taste the juicy fruits of immediate responses on this blog?
I mean, seriously, if you're wanna run with the Big Dogs, how can you afford to let other hot -to-trot agents get the goods before you do?

How long did it take you to write your proposal?
Are you SURE you want someone to spend only 11 minutes looking at it?

Cause, if all you want is speed, baby, I can speed read with the best of them.

But, if perchance, and think this over carefully, you want an agent who actually reads things carefully, looks up a few things herself, thinks more than one minute about it, and THEN reaches an opinion, Miss Snark might be your pail of gin.

That's not to say those people who take e-queries are hopped up ADD unfocused flim flam artists. Several of my most respected and dear colleagues take e-queries. Some ONLY take e-queries. Frankly, I have no idea how they do it.

A second consideration on my part is format. I write MUCH differently for this blog both in diction and in format than I would on paper.

Publishing remains a paper based art form. Ebooks haven't usurped the mass market paperback yet.

You have to put it on paper at some point, and write for the page at some point. Why NOT before you go to the big dance with a pretty girl like me.

I'm not much on people who value speed over form. If that means you won't query me, it's probably gonna be ok for both of us.


Anonymous said...

Right on, Miss Snark. You ARE gonna hafta see those words in tangible black and white eventually. It's for this same reason that many unpublished writers would do much better to PRINT out their work for editing rather than go through each sentence in Word. You need to weigh your work in your hands to see where you've effed up and where you've created magic, and that is the honest-to-goodness truth.

Unknown said...

I'm right with you. Readers read differently on screen. Editors edit differently on screen. Editing on paper allows you to touch every word.

Ellen said...

I disagree with this, personally. For my first book, I did all my editing on paper. After that I taught myself to edit onscreen. The words are exactly the same, whether they're on paper or onscreen, and I approach them exactly the same way. Perhaps a different part of my brain reads words on the screen, but if so, that part of my brain is every bit as competent as the part that reads paper:-).

I send exactly the same type of query letter by email that I do on paper. I do understand Miss Snark's point, though; most of us think of email as an informal medium, and we need to be careful not to let that informality infiltrate our e-queries.

Anonymous said...

Well Miss Snark, I would have to agree that we are probably not a fit! I do think you may eventually want to revise your stand on this, and you'll find that once you do take e-queries, you'll probably prefer them over snail. It's a huge time saver, not to mention efficient, because you don't have to spend the time on typing out a reply letter and mailing it out.

Do you also not send work to editors via e-mail? That would be a concern to me as a client. I have a friend whose agent submitted her work to editors electronically and the offers started coming in the next day. Yes, I know that's not typical, but with e-mamil it is possible, and you gain a competitive advantage.

In my agent search I am only submitting electronically. I sent a query and sample pages. This is just as easy to do via e-mail as snail. I just pasted the pages into the body of the e-mail, and within several days had requests for fulls. So, I do appreciate your suggestion to send the sample pages.


Miss Snark said...

You're hilarious!
First the careful advice on how to save time and then "a concern to me as a client".

Do you honestly think that an agent insists on doing things her own way when an editor asks for things electronically?
Noooo...kind of like clients don't insist on doing thing "their" way when Miss Snark asks for snail mail.

If an editor wants things electroinically, they get it.
Miss Snark understands the modern world.
She just doesn't take e queries, for reasons enumerated above.

Thanks for your concern.
Have a nice day.

Anonymous said...

Lovely and Shapely Miss Snark, thanks for posting my comment about e-queries and your answer...just to be clear, the opening sentence of anon you found "hilarious" is NOT the same person who originally posted to you, even though the first sentence "I would have to agree we are not a fit" might make it sound like he/she was ...but it was me, me, me.

Because you were kind enough to post my comment, let me respond to your answer. To begin with, the seat I purchased for the Snark Show was not cheap at all
...actually, you will find me sitting in the orchestra section, 10 rows back plum in the center--season tickets, no less.

secondly, i have found that almost all agents will respond to my e-query if they are interested in the topic--whether or not they say they accept them. They will also allow attachments, respond on weekends, and do damn near anything they can to get the jump on the competition if they are interested. My point to you was simply that I believe you are at a distinct disadvantage by having the policy you do and I will go so far as to predict that you will change your policy once you truly realize the loss of advantage by having to wait days for snail mail--either with a query, a proposal, or any other form of communication.
Of course, you have every right to do it your own way but I am willing to bet you a pail of your precious gin that by ONE YEAR from now (if not sooner) you will--as a bright young up and coming agent who wants every advantage to ultimately procure that place in the Hamptons--change your policy and be accepting e-queries.

You want to see the query or the proposal on hard-copy? All ya gotta do is print the sonsabitch out on your end...the issue is not one of valuing speed over format--the issue is the competitive nature of the game and the distinct disadvantage that those who refuse e-queries have in a game where things move very fast when agents want them to.
Lastly, it is curious that in a profession such as literary agenting, where much of the way agents communicate with potential clients, acutal clients, editors, friends, etc, you would arbitrarily decide that e-query is not for you. I can only say that I have had some of the most respected agents in the business and none of them have ever objected to receiving a query, a proposal, or ongoing communcation by way of e-mail...

snark on.

Miss Snark said...

The ones that do object are the ones you don't hear from...me.

I didn't arbitrarily choose it.
I un-chose it.
When Miss Snark was a snarkette, she took e-queries. No more. Never again in fact.
And I'll bet you that pail of gin.
And Grandmother Snark's Nobel Prize in Lapdancing as well.

Snark on indeed.