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Christi Anne
06-11-2005, 08:05 PM
I was wondering if someone could give me an idea of what it was like in the literary/publishing world before the Internet? I guess I am showing my age (22) but I can't imagine how people communicated about scams and such without the Internet. Was Writer's Market around then? Everyone subscribe to Writer's Digest? What sources did you use to research agents? I would imagine the process was even LONGER without email queries. Did people use fax machines instead?

ritinrider
06-11-2005, 10:12 PM
Christi Anne, I can answer some of your questions, but I'm sure a more reliable source will be along soon. First, for me the best thing about the computer and the internet is how much easier it is to do research and if I ever get around to needing someone to interview I'll be able to find them on the 'net. Now for some of your questions:

I can't imagine how people communicated about scams and such without the Internet. First, there probably weren't as many scams, because it was harder to target and advertise to the authors. Also, it was more expensive. Not to say there weren't scams, but I think most writers knew to follow the philosophy, "if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is". And of course, there was networking, writers talk, so writer's groups, and conferences were good sources for scams.

Was Writer's Market around then? I'm not sure how long the WM has been available, but yeah, it's been around for a while.


What sources did you use to research agents? Since I've never looked for an agent this isn't really my area. I do know there is a book that lists agents. Writer's groups and conferences were and are great sources for finding and veting agents.


I would imagine the process was even LONGER without email queries. Did people use fax machines instead? Oh yeah. But remember, some publications still require snail mail and some agents need you to mail them the mss. after all they don't want to pay the cost of printing it out and many agents and editors actually read their submissions at home, or while commuting, so reading on the computer isn't viable for them. This I learned from an editor at a writer's conference.

Hope this helps.
Nita

WriteRead
06-23-2005, 07:43 AM
You asked:


Did people use fax machines instead?

Fax machines are a rather recent addition to the communication arsenal, I'd say, w a margin of mistake, with about a 15 yrs lifespan by now, or so. Maybe someone knows a more exact number.

Before that, the telex (from the '30's) or teleprinters (since the very first computers) were the means of communicating and sending documents far and wide - a message was printed and sent electronically to an output machine, where the mgs was decoded and printed again, on a sheet of paper, of course.

But a ms was really sent by mail before that, and even after that, b/c of the sheer volume of material involved.

Regarding sending by fax a full ms, it will kill you and the fax, I think, to send its whole length thru it.

Dan

Jamesaritchie
06-24-2005, 09:50 PM
I was wondering if someone could give me an idea of what it was like in the literary/publishing world before the Internet? I guess I am showing my age (22) but I can't imagine how people communicated about scams and such without the Internet. Was Writer's Market around then? Everyone subscribe to Writer's Digest? What sources did you use to research agents? I would imagine the process was even LONGER without email queries. Did people use fax machines instead?

My, you are young! Primarily communication about scams was done through the various writing magazines. But then and now, scams are a matter of money. If anyone, editor or agent, asks teh writer for money, it's a scam. If a publisher offers less than the standard rate, it's a scam.

Yes, Writer's Digest was around. So was The Writer. Then, as now, teh wise writer subscribes to both.

Research on agents was alos done through teh writing magazines, through books about agents, and through word of mouth. Then, as now, it worked.

Very few used the fax. E-mail queries are highly overrated, even today. Snail mail is still most often the best route to take. Time isn't everything, and faster often means worse, not better. And, in fact, snail mail queries and letters are often a good deal faster than e-mail letters and queries.

Research on everything else was usually done at the library, and then, as now, the information you got was great. The internet is a wonderful thing, but researchers who only use the internet are at a severe disadvantage. The library should still be a writer's second home.

And instead of e-mails, people actually wrote snail mail letters to each other. This, too, is still a good idea.

Tish Davidson
06-24-2005, 10:16 PM
In the snail mail only era, you could send a self-addressed stamped envelope to AAR and they would send you a list of their member agents.

TGeneDavis
06-17-2015, 03:00 AM
Did people use fax machines instead?

Fax machines were never permitted for submitting manuscripts. They printed on slick paper that was horrible for reading and editing on, and that would be expensive for the publishers.

Also, dot matrix printers (computer printouts) were never appropriate for manuscripts. All manuscripts were typed. Also, only high quality paper with a percentage of cotton content and a watermark was used by serious authors. Dumb things like having low quality paper, computer printouts, or the watermark backwards/upside down could get your manuscripts rejected.

It was very uncommon to not send a SASE for return of the manuscripts. It was incredibly painful to type out the manuscripts, so the editors knew to keep them in good shape and return them to the authors.

Helix
06-17-2015, 03:34 AM
Fax machines have been around since the 1980s. In addition to the problems that TGeneDavis mentioned, the paper used in early faxes faded with time. Sometimes very short amounts of time.

King Neptune
06-17-2015, 03:48 AM
Fax machines have been around since the 1980s. In addition to the problems that TGeneDavis mentioned, the paper used in early faxes faded with time. Sometimes very short amounts of time.

http://faxauthority.com/fax-history/

faxes since 1843

They were used a little in high volume offices, including publishers and newspapers, for a long time before they became common.

Helix
06-17-2015, 03:58 AM
http://faxauthority.com/fax-history/

faxes since 1843

They were used a little in high volume offices, including publishers and newspapers, for a long time before they became common.


And before that there was the Clacks.

WeaselFire
06-17-2015, 04:25 AM
Writer's Market and Writer's Digest have been around since the dawn of the printing press. Or shortly thereafter anyway. A lot of writer's organizations had newsletters, usually mimeographed, sometimes photocopied, with a lot of tips as to market, scams and so on. Snail mail queries actually weren't much slower to be handled than email is now. Most of the time with a query or submission is reading it and writing/dictating an answer and publishing houses had bigger staffs then. Postage was a bit expensive so many of us used to send a SASP, self-addressed stamped postcard, for a reply and have the agent/publisher/whatever just toss the original work out. Especially if it was a book submission, since you were going to send off a new copy anyway. The local library's copy machines were the workhorses back then, copies there were only a few cents versus up to a dime a page at commercial places.

People used the phone a lot then. Call an agency and ask who to send a submission to and they would take time to respond. Magazines sent out sample copies and writer's guidelines for a large SASE and usually had an editorial calendar. You submitted to fewer places then (or at least I did) but that was because a half dozen submissions usually got you your agent/publisher/acceptance/etc. I remember people being politer and more helpful, but it may just be my memory of all the crap faded away.

Oh, and editors and publishers took you to lunch if you were in town, even if you weren't writing for them at the time. And to really nice places. :)

Jeff

Roxxsmom
06-17-2015, 04:30 AM
As someone who was around and writing back then, so I was casually perusing those "how to get happily published" books that were around. I was not terribly serious about getting published, though (partially because I had no idea how to find markets or communicate with people or connect with writer's groups and so on). I was also a horrific typist who was not capable of producing even a ten page term paper without much use of whiteout (I always hand wrote all but the last draft), so I pretty much thought getting a manuscript into publishable shape was a non starter for me.

I remember there being books you could actually buy that listed agents and markets or that described things like "how to prepare a manuscript." There were also submission instructions in the backs of magazines.

Face to face writer's group and participation in fandom (cons and so on), and finding a mentor who could show you the ropes were even more important then than they are now. Many of the authors I read in the 90s were the proteges or protegees of other writers I read.

Plus, publications like publisher's marketplace and writer's digest had print editions back then.

can't say about scams, but I'll bet they existed back then in the form of disreputable agents who charged reading fees and so on or shunted writers to in-house editing and binding services that charged. Also, vanity presses passing themselves off as "real" publishers probably existed back then too.

Fruitbat
06-17-2015, 04:35 AM
Oh, gee. I remember the typewriter, yearly Writer's Market, making copies at the library, including that all-important SASE. Also rejection slips that were much smaller than a sheet of paper and if I remember right, on colored paper.

LJD
06-17-2015, 04:45 AM
This thread is more than ten years old (!)
Just saying.

Roxxsmom
06-17-2015, 04:48 AM
Ha! I have a bad habit of looking at the date for the most recent replies but not the op.

As an aside, how do people find these threads that have been buried for years in order to reply to them? I have trouble finding old threads of interest to me unless I know their exact titles or the exact wording in one of the posts (and even then I come up with nothing sometimes).

Cath
06-17-2015, 02:33 PM
Fascinating though the subject is, given that the thread is 10 years old and the OP hasn't visited the forum for about the same length of time, I think it's time to put this one to rest. If anyone sees value in reopening it in the future, by all means ask.