Should Agents Stop Taking Email Submissions?

A blog reader wrote…
I think your in-box is being filled faster and faster as a result of agents now accepting electronic queries. I would bet that before you accepted email you got only a fraction of the number you currently receive. Now anybody with a computer can hammer out 80, 000 words and hit the go button. It took more effort in the old days. Only the really serious persisted.

My response…

I agree the electronic age has made it easy for some to think they can write and get published without putting in the work and the time. Alas, I can’t fix the system or stop the march of time and technology. Nor would I want to.

A few agents have stopped taking email submissions and take snail mail only, but I’d never do that. The bane of my publishing life for 15 years was the physical space taken up by manuscripts stacked everywhere… desk, floor, home, car. And the difficulty of carting around gigantic stacks of paper to read in carpool line, dentist office, in bed at night.

All of that has been eliminated and it makes me so happy. My office is so much cleaner and easier to work in. I read manuscripts on my Kindle which fits in my purse so I always have them with me, no carting around messy bundles of paper in binder clips and rubber bands.

Not to mention that I don’t have to keep laborious logs of manuscripts and proposals, or worry about losing them – they’re always saved on my computer. Life is SO much easier electronically. So while it has caused problems, it has made life much better overall.


Q4U: Do you think agents should stop taking email submissions to cut down on frivolous queries?

© 2011 Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


  1. Whirlochre on January 9, 2011 at 2:45 AM

    >Most US agents prefer email, most UK agents prefer snail mail.

    Emailing US agents is quick, snappy, easy, and I presume the mailing of responses is similar.

    Posting envelopes to UK agents is time-consuming, irritating and costly. Worse still, their typical requirements go way beyond the simple query letter. Three chapters plus bio plus synopsis plus cover letter times umpteen rejections is a hell of a lot of wasted paper.

    I think it's time they were told.

  2. Carol Riggs on January 8, 2011 at 5:50 PM

    >Oh, pleeeeeze, no! I love the ease of email. No trotting down to the PO, waiting in line, and spending lots of money in postage in order to get my rejections.

    I don't know the solution to "frivolous queries" (an eager office assistant?) but I do appreciate agents who work solely via email. Thanks!

  3. Old Salt on January 7, 2011 at 10:54 PM

    >I'll give up my mouse/keyboard when they pry it from my cold dead fingers! I filter out the snail-mail-only agents.

  4. Leigh D'Ansey on January 7, 2011 at 12:48 PM

    >I don't think "anyone with a computer can hammer out 80,000 words." I'm a serious writer and a fast typist and I struggle. Regardless of increasing volumes of mail, I'm sure the electronic age makes things much more streamlined for agents, publishers and writers. I love being able to query, submit and receive replies via email and would not like to go back to a paper-based way of working.

  5. Ishta Mercurio on January 7, 2011 at 12:48 PM

    >Goodness, no! In addition to the space-saving and convenience of e-queries, it speeds up the querying process to do it this way. I'm thankful for the agents who take e-queries.

  6. Andrea on January 7, 2011 at 12:46 PM

    >I love digital submissions! I can only speak from the writer's side of things, but I know they've made life easier for me. I live on a farm, and driving snail-mail submissions to the post-office takes not just paper and postage, but also gas and valuable time. The ability to use an internet connection is a God-send for me.

    I suppose it's inevitable that ease of use would cause some to send frivolous submissions. That simply shows their own lack of professionalism. As others here have pointed out, a few screening methods will weed out the worst offenders. Meanwhile, it lightens the load for the rest of us. Please don't stop!

  7. Anonymous on January 7, 2011 at 11:58 AM

    >This is what I find strange as a British author. Most agents over here still only accept snail mail submissions unless they already represent you.

    It just boggles the mind that the industry over here is still so reliant on paper and ink and hasn't thought to make the change to e-submissions. To send a fifty page sample to several agents at once costs so much money and is such a waste of paper.

    I think most British authors pray for the day that things change over here.

  8. kangaroobee on January 7, 2011 at 9:30 AM

    >Please no to going back to the old way. It's not just about effort, you have to drag kids to post office just for international reply coupons, seems like such a wasted time. Could be writing or playing with them. It's a fine line between inviting the masses to submit everything and common sense in using technology for our benefit.

  9. Crystal Jigsaw on January 7, 2011 at 9:25 AM

    >As a writer who is almost ready to submit an 83k-word paranormal/romance novel, I am hoping I will be able to submit online. It could prove particularly costly in these days of high technology. The costs of ink alone are increasing, and having printed off the ms four times already for editing purposes, to submit electronically will be a breath of fresh air!

    CJ xx

  10. Sharon A. Lavy on January 7, 2011 at 6:35 AM

    >I don't agree with the blog reader who thinks anyone can hammer out 80,000 words.

    I know agents get work that is not yet polished enough etc.

    But hammering out 80,000 words is a big deal. And not everyone who wants to write a novel will stick it out that long.

  11. R.D. Allen on January 6, 2011 at 10:31 PM

    >Great topic, Rachelle! I understand that you go through a lot of stress, due to too many queries, but I agree that electronic ones seem much easier to handle. It also, in a way, makes it easier on even the serious writers, because then the set-up isn't as important as the actual content.

    But, a way for serious writers to get sorted through the frivolity is to submit during slower times, right? Like, early spring and mid-fall, right? Sorry if it seems off-topic, but it's been on my mind a lot lately and you brought up queries…

  12. Carrie L. Lewis on January 6, 2011 at 10:17 PM

    >Personally, I hesitate to call any submission frivolous. Unwanted, perhaps. Untimely, perhaps, but frivolous?

    I also don't think it's possible to keep people who are passionate about what they do from trying to interest someone else in representing it for them. A truly determined person will find a way.

  13. Brian Miller on January 6, 2011 at 8:59 PM

    >i think that the digital age opens up many doors, sure it makes things a bit more complicated at times but it opens the door to many that would otherwise have little to no opportunity…

  14. Michelle DeRusha on January 6, 2011 at 4:13 PM

    >Even though your email in-box is filling up with 10,000 queries, I suspect that you and other agents like you can tell within the first few sentences of a manuscript, or even a paragraph of a query letter, whether you are reading someone with potential or not. So it seems like it would be fairly easy to discern the "definitely nots" from the "perhaps" and certainly from the "tell me more!" submissions.

    So I say going back to snail-mail wouldn't really save you all that much time in that respect.

    And I hadn't even thought of the lugging aspect… yikes!

  15. Clover on January 6, 2011 at 2:58 PM

    >I started writing for magazines in the early days of e-mail and sending queries via snail mail was both laborious and expensive. All hail e-mail! When some magazines started accepting electronic queries, they were first on my list to contact.

    Now I understand how e-mail invites a deluge of queries from less than committed or informed writers, but I think the way some agents try to slow the flow makes them almost as bad as snail mail. I've seen agents who have a long, long, long list of requirements for their queries (the author's marketing plans, 10-page synopsis, a list of your old boyfriends and their contact info, etc.) Often I'm convinced these have been made mandatory for the sole purpose of making the agent more difficult to query.

    I'm sure this helps weed out the less than committed, but it also means I would query these agents only as a last resort. If that's what they want, wonderful. But if an agent is only receiving queries from writers who have been rejected by everyone else, then maybe a little excess e-mail is a small price to pay.

  16. Anonymous on January 6, 2011 at 2:56 PM

    >Queries and submissions are two different things. I can understand why requesting patials and fulls in electronic format is a HUGE space and time saver for you (and other agents as well). As you say, going back to paper in the case of requested submissions would be a burden. Query letters on the other hand are one page each. If I were an agent I would consider demanding snail mail for queries. Just the effort of priting, folding and mailing would deter some. On the other hand, I suppose you can never be sure who you are discouraging. Perhaps the nutters who really can't write would still send their letters while some really terrific writers would say, "I'll put her in round two, after I've done all the e-queries" and you might miss a great project. IMO any writer who considers you to be part of his/her A-list WILL make the effort however.

  17. Kristin Laughtin on January 6, 2011 at 2:42 PM

    >I'm in favor of email queries! It streamlines things so much. I suppose if an agent had to stop taking queries by email in order to reduce their number, it'd be beneficial if they at least tried to reply back via email (assuming the author included their address in their snail-mail query). Even this would not be ideal for me, though. I definitely wouldn't want an agent who was averse to communicating subsequent information via email.

  18. Robert Michael on January 6, 2011 at 2:35 PM

    >When I first read your blog entry, I was counting the costs of printing, mailing, etc. I was thinking along the lines of many of the other authors who experience the same dilemma…and the trees, dear God, the trees! But then, I remembered that although I am not a PROFESSIONAL author, I must take a professional approach–a business-like approach, if you will. That would include realizing that in addition to the blood, sweat and tears of my intellectual property and its inherent value, I must accept that other costs of "doing business" would be incurred.

    However, as a good manager of my business, I also am concerned over keeping costs down. And I agree with RobynBradley in that if we are expected to have platforms across social media and to be technologically savvy, it is incongruous for agents not to have the same level of participation in the modern publishing process.

    It makes sense, then, having seen both sides of the issue, that the publishing industry as a whole should adopt the electronic dessemination of the intellectual proprerties of potential authors as a norm, as a rule. Not to limit the submissions, not to screen the submissions, but merely to provide the most streamlined, efficient and common sense manner in which to get the best writing into print.

    In the future, it would not surprise me if not one dab of ink would hit paper until the book was in production. That would make a lot of people happy: tree huggers, publishers, agents, authors and me.

  19. Nicole on January 6, 2011 at 2:21 PM

    >I don't think agents should go to snail mail queries only. Not only do I think it could potentially hurt the agents (there would be some authors who would decide to self-publish over sending queries via snail mail, I'm betting), but whether we like it or not, the world is digital. Offices are going paperless. Everyone wants instant information. I don't think we can go back, even if we wanted to.

  20. Joy Nicholas on January 6, 2011 at 1:40 PM

    >Just to clarify, though, I didn't mail off my toddler!! Tee-hee-hee…

  21. Joy Nicholas on January 6, 2011 at 1:38 PM

    >I'm pro e-mail!! In the early days of my attempts at publication, when almost no one accepted email submissions, I remember trying to get everything, including my toddler, ready for the post office to weigh it and make sure the postage was right. Then I'd stand in the looooong line, trying to hold onto her plus all the papers I was trying to send… ugh. I still shudder at the memory!! Now, two kids later, I almost exclusively work by e-mail, whether sending submissions to agents or to magazines. The ones that still want snail mail, well, I might get to it!! I mean, I feel like I'm doing well to mail the Netflix in time for more movies that weekend! Assembling all the papers for a book proposal or ms submission, and then taking them to the post office??? What a migraine!

  22. Linda Jackson on January 6, 2011 at 12:10 PM

    >It would be a horrible thing if agents stopped accepting email queries. I have had the privilege of asking some very kind agents if they could be more specific about why they rejected my manuscript (if I did no get a form rejection), and these very kind agents have emailed me back with specifics. These specifics have helped me improve my manuscript. I don't think this could have happened with snail mail.

    Email submissions rule!

  23. mt si dad on January 6, 2011 at 10:41 AM

    >Sorry for the double post – blogspot said my post didn't go through. So I tried again because what I say must be important! but it already had been posted.

  24. E.J. Wesley on January 6, 2011 at 10:40 AM

    >That seems kind of like getting rid of automobiles because we don't like waiting in traffic. Good in theory, but no way we could go back now as it's too much a part of our culture and daily life.

    Can we get more efficient? Absolutely! There are ways to filter e-mail, requests, etc. Some are practical, others are not; however, I'm sure things will only continue to be more refined.

    Personally, I wouldn't submit to an agent who didn't accept e-mail queries, because it wouldn't give me a ton of confidence in their ability to work with existing technologies in an efficient manner. Meaning: If I'm their client, will they return my e-mails, or will I have to call every time I have a question? Furthermore, are they comfortable enough with technology to have reliable and efficient communication with publishers, etc.?

    I know that 'won't accept' and 'can't accept' are two different things, but I wouldn't be comfortable with either attitude.

  25. mt si dad on January 6, 2011 at 10:38 AM

    >Hmm…have been thinking more about this based upon reader comments.

    1. Resubmissions. It might just be easier to do this electronically, along with a tag such as "UPDATE" or "REVISED PER YOUR FEEDBACK." While I'm pretty sure my novel will require absolutely no revisions, it's likely that the first novels submitted by all other writers might need to be changed based upon feedback from agents, friends, and other writers. So submitting a revised MS can just be easier – you could just put a keyword in the title of the e-mail, for example, rather than submit by snail mail and have no way to tell the agent "I listened to your feedback! Honestly!"

    2. The Internet is here to stay. I know – obvious – but an agent who doesn't participate in the publishing world by e-mail and blogs doesn't seem to be one who will understand the disruptive change of e-books or even how submitting electronically is a near-requirement by publishers who do not want to re-key a typed MS. We are all moving to a connected world and away from bound, single-use objects. I say this quite regretfully, as I love physical books, but I find that I'm reading electronically more and more. I've given up printed newspapers and magazines already, depending upon online news and blogs, and realized today that much of my "book" reading on the bus is by PDF or Kindle, especially if the device can do other things when I want to steal away for a moment.

    3. Ease of communication. It's easy for the author, of course, but to highlight Rachel's comment, it must be far easier to keep track of communications made electronically. Rather than having to hunt through a pile of MSS stacked around an office, an agent can just open up an e-mail thread or a folder on a computer to see various versions and communications. Plus, of course, e-mail has the contact information built right into it: the e-mail address.

    I don't think electronic communication can improve the overall quality of submissions; in fact, I suspect it does make frivolous or flawed submissions easier because of lower start-up costs (I'm much more tempted to send a true first draft if I think it only costs me a "Send" button), but education can help here. Agents and writers (and others) can communicate the age-old truth of "You don't get a second chance for a first impression." Writers who sends out willy-nilly their first drafts will create a reputation of producing junk or, worse, stuff that requires work to make right, and IMO ruin their "brand." I imagine that the agent faced with a query from a writer who is known to send close-to-ready documents and a similar query from a writer who is known to send will-need-much-revision documents will choose the one that requires less work to sell.

  26. Nicole on January 6, 2011 at 10:26 AM

    >Absolutely not. Expense and the inconvenience you described are necessary deterrents to snail mail.

  27. Stephanie McGee on January 6, 2011 at 10:09 AM

    >I'm all for e-mail submissions.

    A)It's time-efficient, for both the agent and the author who is querying. It's a lot faster to type in an e-mail address than it is to track down the physical address, hand-address the envelope, hunt down stamps (ever-elusive in this day and age), etc.

    B) It's cost-effective for all parties involved. I don't have to spend all that money on paper and ink and stamps and envelopes. The agent doesn't have to spend money on supplies and such.

    C) I agree that it's so much easier to catalog what's been sent where because you have that record of what e-mails you've sent.

    D) The storage capacity that electronics allows for is far superior to the old ink-and-paper submissions.

  28. Kristy Bryan on January 6, 2011 at 10:04 AM

    >With e-submissions, authors should still be required to follow certain formatting and general guidelines set by the agent. Failure to do so allows the agent the option to consider or reject the query without reading it. Furthermore, failure to abide by the guidelines may shed light on whether or not the author is taking the submission seriously.

  29. Susan on January 6, 2011 at 10:00 AM

    >No way! In my opinion submitting
    electronically is better all around.

    I don't think the person writing a query thinks their query is frivilous. I do think a good agent can immediately spot an unprofessional query or hire someone to assist them with the overflow.

    I think it would be like going back in time not to fully incorporate electronics.

    By submitting electronically you still have to research and learn how to write a great query. You still have to write a great manuscript. You also have to do all of the leg work in order to find the proper agent.

    I am amazed because I am writing this post from my new Internet TV. This is the first time I have attempted to post. It works beautifully. Isn't it amazing at what electrontics has to offer!

  30. Timothy Fish on January 6, 2011 at 9:50 AM

    >As magolla and others pointed out, there are some things about this e-mail thing that are so good. With agents it is “no response means no”, but it’s not limited to agents. It used to be that if you wrote to a business you were pretty much guaranteed a mailed response within a relatively short time and it often included coupons to encourage you to keep buying the company’s products. These days we send e-mail to companies complaining about a product and we not only don’t receive the coupons, we don’t receive a response. I know agents love to argue that they shouldn’t be expected to respond to e-mail from people who aren’t paying them money, but what they are refusing to hear is that many of us still expect that same level of old style respect that in used to be considered proper business etiquette. If I thought the old style effort would help us return to old style respect, I think that $15 a manuscript would be worth it, but I doubt that is the case because I believe the real problem is that too many people value money more than they do people.

  31. Roni Loren on January 6, 2011 at 9:48 AM

    >When I was researching agents, I honestly put the snail mail only ones at the bottom of my list. Not because I wasn't willing to go to the post office, but because it made me wonder if the agent was going to be forward-thinking enough. With everything changing so quickly, I wanted someone who wasn't afraid to move with the times. Not sure if that was a fair assessment or not, but it did influence who I queried.

  32. Hilarey on January 6, 2011 at 9:48 AM

    >I like Richard Mabry's comment about change.
    I personally like not having to pay postage, and if I were an agent the biggest plus would be what you said. I can't stand clutter and to have an office filled with stacks of paper would make me spend most of my time organizing.

  33. Lindsay on January 6, 2011 at 9:36 AM

    >I don't think this is necessary, because serious queries will stand out as serious no matter what the format, and the artless ones will probably always be a quick, few-seconds reject. IMHO, it would be crazy to get rid of e-mail queries, which make things easier, cheaper, and more environmentally friendly for everyone. 🙂

  34. T.Reed - Nightmare Sound on January 6, 2011 at 9:26 AM

    >"It took more effort in the old days. Only the really serious persisted." So many things wrong with that old philosophy!

    Make it harder for the artists (who are nearly always last and least to get paid) so that the middlemen (who do not have the creativity to write the books themselves)have an easier time of taking their regular paychecks?

    Email IS/HAS BEEN/WILL BE the way of things for quite some time now. Media businesses that cannot understand how to embrace and leverage the new tech and the new social media protocol properly are gonna be relegated to the realm of people who still have their Ice delivered in large blocks by horse and buggy.It's just a matter of time.

  35. CharmedLassie on January 6, 2011 at 9:16 AM

    >From both an editor's and a writer's perspective electronic submission makes sense. I think the argument that anyone can drum out 80,000 words of rubbish isn't unwarranted but if they've submitted and been rejected then it's easier for an editor to keep a record of the history in the (unlikely) event they submit something else. I know many wannabe writers who are convinced the first draft of their novel is the only one and it's going to get published: after it does the rounds and fails I don't see that they would waste their apparently valuable time writing another.

  36. magolla on January 6, 2011 at 9:07 AM

    >I love sending email queries. I do my homework and personalize each one.

    I'm even okay with the 'no response means no' BUT if agents use this approach I wish they would have an auto-responder letting the writer know he/she rec'd the query.

  37. Marla Taviano on January 6, 2011 at 8:58 AM

    >Just make a new query guideline–NO Frivolous Queries Allowed. That should take care of the problem.

  38. kentsageek on January 6, 2011 at 8:41 AM

    >Stick with the email and build a network of trusted screeners to help parse the deluge. Heck, most would probably work for free in exchange for a small reward should they uncover something good. Think of it like an army of old guys with metal detectors happy to comb the earth for the thrill of uncovering a shiny quarter here and there. If you don't, somebody else will.

  39. RobynBradley on January 6, 2011 at 8:38 AM

    >It's probably unfair of me, but I don't submit to agents unless they accept email queries. And I'm skeptical of those that don't have websites (even though I realize some legit ones who have been around forever don't). I guess part of me feels that if we — the writers — are expected to embrace the new ways of promoting ourselves (blogs, FB, Twitter, etc), then it makes sense that agents should as well, at least to some extent (I'm not saying all agents need to blog…but I do think all agents should have a web presence, even if they only accept snail mail).

  40. Rachelle on January 6, 2011 at 8:12 AM

    >Everyone: Like many of you have mentioned, I do like the way that email tends to level the playing field so that almost everyone can submit. Even those without internet access usually are able to get it through their public library. I think it's a good thing that more people have access to agents because there is now virtually no cost to submitting.

    Dave: Yes, you're right, we could certainly take query letters & sample pages via snail mail, then have full manuscripts emailed. However, just as it's easier for the author to send the whole thing electronically… it's MUCH easier for me to sit in front of my computer clicking and reading than to sit there laboriously opening envelopes, then dealing with the physical pile-up of queries, not to mention the problem of responding. I wouldn't like to have to print out responses and mail them. But even if I'm sending an email response, it takes much longer to find the person's email address and enter it in, rather than simply hitting "reply." So the query reading process itself takes about twice as long, and in a time when we're doing everything we can to reduce the time it takes, that just doesn't work!

  41. Richard Mabry on January 6, 2011 at 8:11 AM

    >It's probably true that agents get more submissions, now that they can be sent electronically. It's also true that more people get emails than letters, that many Americans get their news via the Internet, and that in general we're becoming an electronic society. But that's no reason that agents and writers seeking representation from them should revert to the ways of the mid-20th century. It's progress.

    That being said, I'm not always a fan of change. Deep in my heart, I agree with obsessive-compulsive detective Adrian Monk: I don't mind progress. I just don't like to be around when it's happening.

  42. Christine on January 6, 2011 at 8:09 AM

    >I believe email is the way to go for queries, partial requests and even full requests. It costs a lot of money to print the pages and mail them. I'm unpublished and don't earn an income writing. I'd rather get a rejection that was "free." And I don't query frivolously. The book has to be completed to the best of my ability and I have to believe that the agent is a good match for my voice and my career.

    Email is also easier for agents. Sure their inbox fills up but it is easy and cheap to send an email rejection or request for more.

  43. Timothy Fish on January 6, 2011 at 7:53 AM

    >With per page printing costs at about 5 cents, I’m not concerned about the trees as much as I am that $15 per manuscript. Multiply that by 40 and an author is spending $600 on printing costs, most of which would be dropped in the recycle bin a few seconds after the agents look at the manuscript.

  44. Wendy Paine Miller on January 6, 2011 at 7:46 AM

    >Just remembered the lyrics…"every time you go away…"

    Time to go chug my tea.
    ~ Wendy

  45. Wendy Paine Miller on January 6, 2011 at 7:35 AM

    >So everywhere you go, you really do take a piece of me with you (on your Kindle). Ha! This comment is a sure sign I’m in need of caffeine stat!

    Yes, I say keep the email system for reasons Lynnette listed above.

    ~ Wendy

  46. Sue Harrison on January 6, 2011 at 7:26 AM

    >I remember sending a manuscript to my Spanish publisher with an "overnight" delivery service so the publisher could meet a translation deadline. A week and eighty bucks later, they still had not received the manuscript. Then my Spanish editor called and suggested a very outside-the-box kind of solution. Why not try to send it (chapter by chapter) via email. Voila! An hour later she had the manuscript!

    Hooray for the headache of technology!

  47. Donna Hole on January 6, 2011 at 4:59 AM

    >An excellent quetion Rachelle. I had a nice long comment, but decided the opinion maybe belonged on a blog post of my own.

    My answer to your question is that yes, I feel there is a lot more unpublishable writers clicking the "easy" button; but I also believe it has enticed many more serious, viable writers to submit. I know Agents like to believe an author researches and submits to only one agent at a time; but we authors also realize that a snowball has a better chance of surviving 20 feet in hell than an aspiring author has of enticing an agent.

    The costs of printing our submissions, and paying postage to possibly 10 agents a month (minimum) adds to writer anxiety. No cost to the submitting author is extremely enticing.

    Agents may be getting more submissions via online convenience; but I'd be willing to bet they're also getting more "publishable" submissions than they did with paper submissions only. Its a trade off, like any other business.

    I hope Agents do not close to electronic submissions. I think it is self-defeating.


  48. Nicolette on January 6, 2011 at 4:31 AM


    Personally, I live on an island and the snail mail postal system is shocking. Being able to submit work to publishers, editors, agents, etc via email, makes my life so much easier. Plus, as people have said before, it stops all those trees being cut down (we hope).

  49. Anonymous on January 6, 2011 at 4:26 AM

    >I am all for electronic queries, not just to save a tree but also because it makes it much easier for anyone like me, who has to query internationally. I am currently living in the UK and if I'm querying a US agent it's not exactly easy for me to get a US postage stamp for a SASE. Not to mention the time it would take to get anything done internationally if we all reverted to snail mail.

  50. Dave on January 6, 2011 at 4:02 AM

    >Just a thought, wouldn't it be possible to request all queries to be sent via post, thereby reducing the inbox latency, but then the manuscripts themselves could then be e-mailed if accepted?

    This assumes, however, that you want to use the snail mail method as a filter from lazy people – I have no doubt that you would miss out on at least a few good submissions in this manner.

  51. Rosemary Gemmell on January 6, 2011 at 4:01 AM

    >Absolutely on the side of email submissions. It makes a writer's life so much easier, especially if sending work from one side of the Atlantic to the other!

    And if an agent or publisher initially asks for a synopsis and sample chapters, the whole script doesn't need to be emailed until/unless requested.

  52. Malin on January 6, 2011 at 3:59 AM

    >I'm truly grateful for the possibility of email submissions. I live in Sweden but write in English, and our postal service doesn't include SASE from foreign grounds. I'm sure I could have sorted it out through friends somehow, but email submissions make it so much easier for me to reach the agents I want, without troubling my friends with the process of mailing the queries.

  53. Jenny Beattie on January 6, 2011 at 3:48 AM

    >Given that I'm a British woman living (and writing) in Bangkok Thailand, no, I would hate for it to be more snail mail oriented. My postal costs (there and back) would be astronomical. But of course I realise that agents and publishers organise their guidelines to suit how they work. In the end I'll do it whatever way they want me to!

  54. Anonymous on January 6, 2011 at 3:07 AM

    >Why agents still insist on snail-mail is beyond me. Yes, I'm grateful for requests but the snail-mail agents have been the worst responders–as in NO response. Come on, people! You ask me to spend my time, energy and $$ to MAIL you my ms.–you can't even give me a few words of advice, feedback or encouragement?

    E-mail rules and I'll think twice about submitting to any agent who refuses to accept e-mail subs.
    Their loss!

  55. Anne R. Allen on January 6, 2011 at 2:18 AM

    >Snail mail is increasingly expensive, so email has become a socio-economic equalizer. Does anybody really want to go backward?

  56. T. Anne on January 6, 2011 at 2:11 AM

    >Email yes, snail mail no.

    And as for the trees, I believe it was Stephen King who mentioned in his book ON WRITING that he rather liked the idea of entire forests in Canada being hacked down to print his books. (I couldn't help but stir the pot on this one 😉

  57. Sarah on January 6, 2011 at 1:46 AM

    >I second Kim's comment. Think of the trees!

  58. Josi Springs on January 6, 2011 at 1:42 AM

    >I'm ever thankful that most agents take emails submissions. If they didn't I wouldn't be able to submit at all. The money it would cost to submit by snail mail would leave me writing just for myself and my children. Granted, that's how I started, but I don't want that to be my end point as well.

  59. Pippa Jay on January 6, 2011 at 1:39 AM

    >I think it's fantastic that many accept electronic mail – it makes everyone's life easier. When I started submitting, I found I had to invest in a huge amount of printing paper, ink, envelopes, folders, even a new printer – my workspace looked like a stationary office, and it cost me a fortune.
    And I'm sure most agents can spot frivolous queries at the first sentence.

  60. Lynnette Bonner on January 6, 2011 at 1:31 AM

    >I was accepted out of a slush pile because being able to send my manuscript digitally was so easy. I had been rejected enough that I was about ready to send that book off to the morgue. But a friend told me about a publisher who only required a cover letter and the whole manuscript attached via email. Since it was so easy, I gave it one more shot, and that's the one that brought me an acceptance. Through that acceptance, I later came into contact with my agent and whole new doors have been opened.

    So yes, while it may make it easy for just any ol' person to submit, it also makes it easy for the weary and worn to give it one more try.

    I say save a tree (and your back and sanity).

  61. catdownunder on January 6, 2011 at 1:19 AM

    >I live in a more remote part of the world. I can do a complex international job from home because of e-mail.
    If agents accept e-mail submissions it also cuts down dramatically on postage expenses and the time taken.

  62. mt si dad on January 6, 2011 at 1:06 AM

    >I would expect that accepting electronic submissions just makes it easier all around. You (the agent) can read the MS on more devices, and if you want to make notes to return to the author, you can do it without the fear of notes getting disconnected from the MS and the context. Also, you can specify your submission rules and enforce them through rules and filters – no need to open boxes and envelopes and discover someone has sent you a document printed using small caps on both sides of onion-skin paper in 8pt Helvetica Narrow – bold. And the author can be more confident the submission gets to the editor & does not get waylaid in a mailroom or set at the bottom of a stack of MSS.

    Sending a “frivolous submission” is the mark of someone who doesn’t understand that the book industry is an industry where everyone wants to make money from saleable products. An agent isn’t doing me a favor by accepting my query or even my MS; she is doing so because she thinks she can pitch it to a publishing editor who can then get it through the publication committee and out into bookstores. \
    If frivolous entries become a problem, then perhaps just clarifying the submission guidelines can help cut down on the incoming flow. I’ve seen some agent squeeze the pipeline by simple methods such as requiring a set of keywords in the submission – it’s a way to be sure the author is reading the rules, much in the same way as touring bands request only green M&Ms in their suite.

    Of course, I’m on the author side of things; what I imagine the agent’s side to be might be a laughable fantasy.

  63. Jess on January 6, 2011 at 12:57 AM

    >No. Email submissions rule! Of course, I suspect there will eventually be a program that will allow editors and agents to key in certain words, subjects, sentences, names (anything they aren't interested in)that will get us an automatic rejection. 🙂

  64. Amanda J. on January 6, 2011 at 12:55 AM

    >If agents didn't take digital submissions, I wouldn't have the opportunities I have today. I read queries and partials remotely (from Arkansas) for an agent in New York, because I can't take an internship in the city and I can't get up there until after I graduate. So, personally, I'm thankful for online submissions; they've helped me fall even more in love with this industry. 🙂

  65. Kim Kasch on January 6, 2011 at 12:49 AM

    >I am SO FOR the digital way of life. Just like the Lorax, I have to speak for the trees. The numbers lost would be astronomical, if you went back to snail-mail submissions.

    So, if only for the trees, I hope you will never change. You can always hit the delete button and no limb-lives will be lost. Don't be a part of the thneed industry. 😉