Nitwit of the Day!

If a literary agent says"email me the book"--all 385 pages of it, is this a wise thing to do, or should one insist on wasting the $25 on postage and send an old fashioned snail-mail copy?

Follow the damn directions.


Word Doctor said...

Oh, man...that's a good one.

Anonymous said...

An equally compelling question, although it is not what you asked, is why anyone would spend $25 to mail fewer than 400 pages. Unless it is a first edition Ten Commandments in the original stone tablet format, it would cost you less than ten dollars to ship it Priority Mail anywhere in the US, including Guam. I can fit a ream and a half at least in a flat rate Priority Mail Box, although for the most part I would not waste the money and would send it at a cheaper rate.

ORION said...

All of my communication with my agent takes place via email. I frequently send her manuscripts as attachments and she prints them out at her office.
And anonymous?
Trust me.
I would NEVER priority mail anything from here (Hawaii) to the mainland.
Sure it costs $10 bucks BUT IT NEVER ARRIVES!!!!
When I absolutely positively HAVE to send something snail mail (and think only chocolates to my agent and editor and NOT manuscripts)?
I heart FedEx.
Of course the entire point of the question is:
Do what the agent asks.

Anonymous said...

I have a theory about how this NotD came about. There are a lot of, shall we say, more established writers who insist that the vast majority of agents still prefer everything in paper form: queries, partials, fulls. Even when the agent's site says they accept both (without indicating a preference), they insist you should send printed material instead of emails. So it's possible this particular NotD isn't so much a nitwit as someone taking those words a little too strongly to heart.

That's my theory anyway.

felicityendoscope said...

The problem with "Follow the damn directions" is that different people advise different directions. In this particular case, there are specific directions, sure. But what about when one agent says "NEVER EVER BLAH BLAH BLAH" and another agent says "In certain cases blah blah blahing is absolutely fine. In fact, I signed a writer last week when they blah blahed me."

Be polite, be courteous, do as you would be done by, follow your nose and use your instinct and common sense are the rules I set for myself. None of those are as elusive as rocking horse shit, it's pretty obvious how to proceed.

Anonymous said...

Email me the book more than likely means email it as an attachmnet, not paste it in the body of an email.

Agents freak at email attachments from unknown sources, but might very well want yours sent this way, as he is interested.

Anonymous said...

Felicity, that's "advice," which is different than "directions."

Direction is when someone says, "Send this to me like this." Advice is when someone says, "I'm sure you can send this to some person like that."

If someone told me explicitly to do something, I can't imagine why I wold take it upon myself to do it in another way. It's baffling.

Anonymous said...

Quoting Miss Snark, from deep within the last Crapometer:

I swear to dog, when you're doing 700 emails, following the damn directions is better than "thank you."

Agents process a lot of mail. For the sake of their sanity, please just follow the directions. Your consistency aids their speed of reply.

Anonymous said...

I just had to send a final revision to an editor and he requested two separate attachments, one for story and one for bio, with specific guidelines that stated he wanted the title, penname and real name at the top of each attachment. No contact info other than that, which pissed me off because I want my check delivered to the right address. I've never submitted a final revision without ALL contact info in my life. But you know what, I followed his directions to the letter and bit my tongue. If it says "e-mail" don't sent it any other way.

Kimber Li said...

It's scary to send out one's novel into the black hole of cyberspace if you've never done it before! Nevertheless, a writer will never make it in this business if they don't muster the courage to ADAPT.

Anonymous said...

The New York Literary Agency requested my entire 300 page manuscript by email. It made me nervous, so I checked Preditors and Editors.... Whew! That scared me into being very cautious. If it's your agent, that's different. If it's not, check them out.

felicityendoscope said...

> Direction is when someone says, "Send this to me like this." Advice is when someone says, "I'm sure you can send this to some person like that."

Yah well, if you want to be trainspottery about it ;)

> If someone told me explicitly to do something, I can't imagine why I wold take it upon myself to do it in another way. It's baffling.

Well, Hitler told millions of people to do certain things, and thank fook many of them took it upon themselves to do it another way. In the example given in the OP of course the obvious and polite thing to do is to follow the instructions on the packet.

Oh and anonymous, that's "why I would" which is different to "why i wold."

Snigger ;)

Anonymous said...

Felicity: Godwin's Law.

Maya Reynolds said...

Kimber an put her finger on it. I think this is about the writer's fear of letting go of his/her mss.

One of the things that continually amazes me is the paranoia writers have about "someone stealing my plot." I can walk into any bookstore and into any aisle and find very similar plots within one genre. It's the execution of the idea that distinguishes one book from another.

My personal experience in talking with other writers has been that this is why agents find themselves being asked to sign for manuscripts or to return postcards that say the mss arrived. It was just never an issue for me.

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine comparing an agent requesting a manuscript electronically to Hitler ordering the deaths of millions of people.

Dear Mr. Agent,
I know you requested my 300 pages by e-mail, but I don't want to be accused of blindly accepting Nazism, so I've FedExed them instead. If only more of the WWII-era German people had done the same.
Thanks for your interest,

It's simple. An agent is interested in your work. He wants to receive it in the quickest possible way, at the cheapest price for you. Why are you complaining? I assume you know he's not going to steal the work, as you researched him before querying. Yes?

Anon's reminder of Godwin's Law made me squirt my Pepsi out my nose.

Stuart said...

No, don't email it. Print out the entire 300+ page manuscript, chunk it into groups of 5, stuff each group into business sized envelopes and mail seperately.

Jim Oglethorpe said...

OMG Stuart--I am laughing so hard. This is what I live for.