Save a tree is the new cry among literary agents.
Kristin Nelson is very emphatic about it. Under no circumstances should anyone send her a query on a piece of dead tree. She will no longer open the envelope to return your self-addressed envelope. If you want to pitch your manuscript to her, it will be via e-mail or not at all.
Jeff Kleinman at Folio Lit would like you to inquire via e-mail if you please. He'll get back to you sooner, in fact, and that's one of the best incentives he could offer the potential client. Just a bunch of electrons needed. No trees will be harmed in the making of your query.
For a time, the agents at The Aaron M. Priest Literary Agency would not respond to your paper query if they were not interested in your manuscript. That saved them the trouble of printing up reams of rejection letters, at the cost of half a forest. Now they've moved on and have switched to e-mail as well.
Something new is on the horizon, like a vast wave of agents who have been swamped with easy to shoot out en masse queries. Thinking of querying Barbara Braun? Put down your Internet connection. Go buy a stamp.
In a reversal of previous policy, Ms. Braun will no longer accept e-mail queries. You have to type up your letter, print out your synopsis and sample chapters, and put the lot into a large envelope. Then you drop it in the post box, go home, and wait. That's how it was done before. It's how she's doing it again.
When you have to put money and effort into the submission process, you won't be so quick to fire off a mass mailing of queries. For an agent with an overflowing inbox, that could mean a reduction in poorly written and poorly targeted queries blasted out by a service. Ms. Braun must be hoping to put an end to the bombardment.
What of the poor, defenseless trees that must be pulped to make the paper? By using recycled paper products, you encourage the industry to recycle even more. That's another way to save a tree and save a literary agent's eyesight.