Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Paper-free And Answer-free

E-mail queries only, if you please.

It's the rule for anyone submitting to the Linda Chester Literary Agency. No more clutter in the office, no more stacks of query letters waiting to be rejected. Everything resides on the computer, small and compact.

"Unfortunately, due to the overwhelming number of queries we receive, we can no longer respond to each one. We will contact you within four weeks if we are interested in your material."

Unfortunate indeed for the author seeking representation. You don't know if your query was ever seen, or if it was caught up in the spam filter. You sit back for four weeks, wondering, and then you think about sending the letter again, just in case.

For an agent, it's much easier to work with e-queries. Your letter pops up on the screen, they scroll down to see if you've been published yet, and then they can hit delete and the letter is gone.

In reality, it's not quite so bad as all that, but you wouldn't be surprised if an agent did just that after a long day of query reading. A few variations on "My book is going to be a bestseller and Dan Brown will grovel at my feet" and you'd chuck the lot in your inbox as well.

It becomes that much more important to grab the agent's interest with the first line of the query. You have to compose a verse, a collection of words that make the agent read on to get to your synopsis paragraph. Such a task is not easy for even the most talented writer, because it's all about marketing when you're seeking representation. There's another reason why you'll never get published.

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