I've been thinking lately about the agents I have been submitting my work to. I consider myself fairly green when it comes to the environment. I carry my own shopping bags so I don't have to use the stupid (weak, holey, and ugly) plastic bags that the stores use. I recycle everything that I possibly can and reuse plastic containers and glass jars. I run multiple errands with thought going to creating a circuit so I don't crisscross town and drive a fairly fuel-efficient car.
I've been spending the past month adding to my database of agents that I want to submit to (as many are on vacation during the months of July and August I'm using that time to research.) I decided to head to the library last week and take advantage of various books on publishing in the reference section. I had my notebook and pen so I could write agencies' addresses, websites and various notes (such as only accepts through various months, what they wish to see for with the query - sample pages, chapters, synopsis, etc.), which genres they represent (of course bypassing those that don't mesh with my own writing), and specific agents' names). I have a great spreadsheet I created to keep track of these things.
I took all this home and started going to the websites to better understand what these agents were looking for, make sure contact information hadn't changed, and to see how familiar I was with any of their current clients and their work. I have truly been amazed in this Internet world that we live in how many agents do not accept e-mail queries or submissions. I started adding up what it would cost me in both paper, ink and postage to send just queries (not including synopses, sample pages or manuscripts) to all these agents. Then I figured out the cost for sending just five agents a query with the first fifty pages (as that seems to be most common). Let's just say it's not cheap. And I have to trust that these agents are actually going to recycle my pages. I don't have this fear of my work being stolen, but more my work ending up in a landfill where it may or may not decompose.
I appreciate agents who say on their website "We are a green company and only accept e-queries." Thank you. You are speaking my language. I was talking about this with another writer who was shocked that I was limiting my search. What if I missed the perfect agent and a great book deal because I refused to submit to someone who was not as "green" as I am? What if that agent is restricted by her firm to only accept paper copies? And am I one of those people who believes in the destruction of "real books" in favor of the e-book? One of her points was also that agents who only accept e-queries might not be as attentive and more easily dismiss work because it is so simple to discard bites of data than sheets of paper and perhaps "e-agents" aren't as attentive because it is "too easy" to create an e-query than to write and print a "real letter."
All this got me to thinking about whether I am limiting myself or if I believe strongly in my convictions of a greener planet by only using agents who accept e-queries. I do firmly believe in "real books." I love books. I've mentioned this before. The texture of the page, the smell of the ink, the dance of letters across the vast expanse of paper creating stories. All these things I adore about physical books. They are things that cannot be duplicated by any e-reader. As much as I love my nook, I will always love the feel of an open book in my hand. But does my application for an agent to help me sell my books (real and digital) mean that I should kill trees in order to reach that goal? I just can't believe that it does.
I'd be interested in my reader's views on this (yes; all six of you). If you are a published writer, did you use traditional means or is it truly possible to find an agent via the web? Tomorrow we will discuss the ways in which to create an e-query and not accidentally send it off to an agent before you are finished.