Dear Miss Snark,
Why do most agents prefer to receive a query only (no partial) in the mail instead of email? I'm stating most based on the published guidelines.
I hate equeries.
There's no way to format or write an email that is visually easy to read without chopping things up into two sentence paragraphs. Formatting survives transmission only intermittently.
I use email for things I need to keep track of: conversations with editors and clients. I don't need to keep track of queries.
And once someone has your email address, it seems to magically transform itself into an invitation to "communicate".
When I opened my agency, I did do email queries. I was ready to embrace the electronic age. Didn't take too many really nasty responses to rejections for me to change my mind.
And I realized too that I was just giving the work a cursory look. If I'm clicking through my email while I"m on hold, waiting for Killer Yapp to finish his security sweep of the closet, or waiting for the UPS man to stagger up the stairs after I buzzed him in, then you're getting about three seconds of my attention, and not undivided attention at that. That's not how I want to look at queries.
How other agents feel about it I don't know. I know one agent who takes them and the number she gets is staggering. I haven't really asked my colleagues why they take them or don't. Maybe some of them will weigh in on the comments section.
And for those of you who think I'm the nitwit of the day for not taking equeries, put a cork in it. We've had that go round and the referee declared a winner. Case closed.
And if you're mailing a query, I think you should include five or so pages of the work to show how you write even if the submission guidelines say "send a query letter". Yes, there are some cover letters that demonstrate a person is utterly clue free about writing and publishing and you wouldn't have to read the pages to say no BUT most people, even good writers, can't write good cover letters to save their lives. Query letter = cover letter + pages.