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ScribeLady
12-21-2011, 08:04 PM
Yesterday, an agent's assistant sent me an e-mail requesting a hard copy of my novel. I was surprised to hear from this agent because I had queried her two months ago.

I've sent out many, many queries, but this is only the second time I've been asked for a hard copy.

Any input about this? Sending hard copies is expensive - Because I frequently make changes, I have to pay for the copying as well as the postage - tallying up to about $35. I also have to shlep it to the post office.

I feel like saying that it's not my policy to send hard copies, that I'll be happy to send it via e-mail.

Is this an indication that the agent isn't keeping pace with technology ( e-mail)? What does this say about an agent?

Any and all comments will be appreciated.

Scribelady

ChaosTitan
12-21-2011, 08:09 PM
All it says about the agent is that they prefer to read submissions on hard copy. When I was querying a few years ago, the majority of my subs to agents went via snail mail. Some fantastic agents still ask that you query via snail mail, so it says nothing about being behind on the times--just reading preference.

One of the best investments I ever made was in a laser printer. It makes copying a manuscript incredibly cheap (basically the cost of a ream of paper).

If you're still making frequent changes to the manuscript, maybe you aren't ready to query just yet? You should be querying a final draft, not something you're still tinkering with.

The decision really comes down to this: do you want to work with this agent?

Drachen Jager
12-21-2011, 09:19 PM
Check the agent out on QT. I know of at least one where they request hardcopy, but only respond about 5% of the time.

AFIAK there are two kinds of agents who request hard copies. The real cream of the agency crop and the bottom. Middling agencies (and many top agencies), in my experience are fine with electronic copies.

ScribeLady
12-21-2011, 09:51 PM
Check the agent out on QT. I know of at least one where they request hardcopy, but only respond about 5% of the time.

AFIAK there are two kinds of agents who request hard copies. The real cream of the agency crop and the bottom. Middling agencies (and many top agencies), in my experience are fine with electronic copies.

The only other agency I've dealt with that required a hard copy was ICM -- which is why I'm a bit skeptical about this particular agency requiring a hard copy-- they're a small agency that doesn't appear to handle much fiction.

Scribelady

Mr. Anonymous
12-21-2011, 09:55 PM
A lot of agents prefer to read hard copies, and end up printing out emailed submissions anyway.

Less work + money saved if the author takes care of that.

Yeah it's a pain, but I wouldn't let it stop me from submitting.

Old Hack
12-21-2011, 10:10 PM
It's no big deal to be asked for a hard copy. If you don't want to send it, then don't; if you want the agent to consider your work, get it in the post.

And while it might cost you a bit to send it out, consider how much it costs the agent to work through all the submissions she receives. She earns nothing for most of that work, but does it anyway.

Phaeal
12-21-2011, 10:21 PM
Of all the MSS I sent out, only two were hard copies. Both agents had been around for a while. Neither responded, even with a form. To fulls that had cost me a lot of money. I was not happy, but hey, you play the game or you go home.

You could suggest sending an e-manuscript, leaving out that "policy" bit. Pleading poverty might help, if you can do it with sincerity. But only do this if you don't mind risking the withdrawal of the request.

Drachen Jager
12-21-2011, 11:25 PM
This is exactly why most agents have Kindles or similar readers these days. Saves so much hassle, time, money and trees.

triceretops
12-21-2011, 11:30 PM
Definitely check out this agent on the Bewares boards. I've only had one hardcopy request, and it came from a bottom feeder.

Tri

Medievalist
12-21-2011, 11:41 PM
I'd look very hard at the agent in question's track record. What have they sold in the last 18 months, and where? Are they publishers you know? Can you find any of that agent's books in your local libraries and bookstores?

soopykun
12-22-2011, 10:06 AM
My agent asks for hard copies. It's just a personal preference.

shaldna
12-22-2011, 02:51 PM
I feel like saying that it's not my policy to send hard copies, that I'll be happy to send it via e-mail.

This really wouldn't help. It sounds a bit unprofessional.



Is this an indication that the agent isn't keeping pace with technology ( e-mail)? What does this say about an agent?

It says that the agent likes to read hard copy - probably on the train, or in bed, or when waiting for dinner to cook. Not all the work an agent does is done in the office. The agents I know all take work home with them.

jaksen
12-22-2011, 04:32 PM
I've been asked twice to send a hard copy (among the requests I've recently gotten.)

Am I gonna say no to that? No, I don't.

And I don't question who's up on technology and who isn't. I just want a good agent who will represent me well and sell the damn book.

And speaking of technology, I've found several good agents who've made good deals for writers who don't even have a website or web page.

Imagine that. Just don't assume because the people you know are all super-tech-literate with the latest phones and ipads and so on, that everyone is. I was a teacher, now retired, and I used to get laughed at because I still used a white board and drew on it for my students while everyone else was downloading pics from the internet and displaying them on their smart boards. Guess what, my kids loved my drawings. They were ridiculously stupid, and they never knew when my Tyrannosaurus would turn out looking all Brachiosaurus-like. They paid attention and did better on tests, too.

Do not look down on any agent because they may seem a little behind, by your standards. Measure them by the successes they have as far as publishing contracts, working with writers, getting a decent advance, etc.

shaldna
12-22-2011, 06:07 PM
I just want a good agent who will represent me well and sell the damn book.

If the right, dream agent for me asked to see my MS written on toilet paper, then you can bet I'm getting the Andrex out.



And speaking of technology, I've found several good agents who've made good deals for writers who don't even have a website or web page.

Marianne Gunn O' Connor spings to mind. It's a very well respected agency, very well connected and with some great deals. But not a web page, nothing.

hester
12-22-2011, 06:58 PM
[QUOTE=shaldna;6842648]If the right, dream agent for me asked to see my MS written on toilet paper, then you can bet I'm getting the Andrex out.

This made me LOL.

Personally, I'd send the hardcopy-if you receive an offer, you always have the option of saying no :).

Jamesaritchie
12-22-2011, 07:24 PM
Yesterday, an agent's assistant sent me an e-mail requesting a hard copy of my novel. I was surprised to hear from this agent because I had queried her two months ago.

I've sent out many, many queries, but this is only the second time I've been asked for a hard copy.

Any input about this? Sending hard copies is expensive - Because I frequently make changes, I have to pay for the copying as well as the postage - tallying up to about $35. I also have to shlep it to the post office.

I feel like saying that it's not my policy to send hard copies, that I'll be happy to send it via e-mail.

Is this an indication that the agent isn't keeping pace with technology ( e-mail)? What does this say about an agent?

Any and all comments will be appreciated.

Scribelady

Many agents want hard copies, simply because many editors want hard copies.

Seriously, writing is a business, and you're complaining about investing thirty-five bucks in your business, in your career. Many people spend more on coffee in one week. Or on buying a hardcover book. Or on a video game.

And how much for a writer's conference of seminar?

This is your business. Be glad you aren't trying to start a different sort of business. A friend of mine had to invest $30,000 just to start a used bookstore.

If this is a good, reputable agent, spend the thirty-five bucks, and be extremely happy you're trying to start a business that demands such low investment capital.

jjdebenedictis
12-23-2011, 01:52 AM
I think the only reasons to balk at sending a hard-copy are if you honestly can't afford to, or the agent is over-seas and the manuscript is likely to arrive half-destroyed and half-a-year late.

Sending hard-copy is not a sign of anything except the agent preferring to read a book on paper, not on a screen.

ether
12-23-2011, 02:11 AM
Basically what everyone else said. Agents spend a lot of time at the computer, squinting at the screen. When reading an MS, some of them like to rest their eyes by reading paper instead. (And why should they have to pay to print out an MS they aren't getting paid to read?)

I've only ever sent out one hard-copy of my MS (and it was a 30-page partial to a city only a few hours away). Otherwise, I don't do it, but it's mainly because I can't afford to and don't like the paper waste. But I understand why agents do it.

Ken
12-23-2011, 04:33 AM
... $35 sounds like a lot. Are you thinking of sending it by airmail or something? If you go with regular package rate you could reduce that sum by half I'll bet. There's not need to get it to them right away. If it takes a week to get there they should be fine with that, if you choose to go ahead with this. G'luck.

Old Hack
12-23-2011, 12:12 PM
Don't send it by a service which means it has to be signed for. That's a big nuisance for the agent. And make sure you put enough postage on it: the agent won't pay the extra, and it'll just get sent straight back to you.

shaldna
12-23-2011, 02:28 PM
... $35 sounds like a lot. Are you thinking of sending it by airmail or something?

I thought that too. I mean, that's about 20, which is a lot, even including photocopying etc

jaksen
12-23-2011, 05:35 PM
I'm gonna amend what I said up there somewhere ^^^

If you really cannot afford the expense, but the agent really likes your query, your premise or the ten pages you already sent, then what's the harm in asking if you can send it by email? He or she might say yes and make an exception for you. I'd have no problem saying, well, I really can't afford to mail it via snail mail.

What's the worst they will do? They will say hard copy or nothing, and there's your answer. Or they might say something like, 'not our usual policy but go ahead.'

My mom used to say it seldom hurts to ask.

CrastersBabies
12-27-2011, 11:36 PM
All it says about the agent is that they prefer to read submissions on hard copy. When I was querying a few years ago, the majority of my subs to agents went via snail mail. Some fantastic agents still ask that you query via snail mail, so it says nothing about being behind on the times--just reading preference.

One of the best investments I ever made was in a laser printer. It makes copying a manuscript incredibly cheap (basically the cost of a ream of paper).

If you're still making frequent changes to the manuscript, maybe you aren't ready to query just yet? You should be querying a final draft, not something you're still tinkering with.

The decision really comes down to this: do you want to work with this agent?

I bought my laser printer 2 years ago and haven't looked back. Love it. Could not live without it. Precious. Preciousssss...........

rugcat
12-28-2011, 12:03 AM
Some agents not only prefer to read hard copy, but to make notes and questions in the margins. You can do that in Word track changes of course, but in all honestly it's easier and more user friendly to have a paper copy. My agent once printed up the e file I'd sent, marked up the hard copy with notes and suggestions, and mailed the hard copy back to me. I loved it -- made life much easier for me.

So of course, the agent could print their own copy -- but in effect, that would be costing her money for the privilege of reading your ms. Given enough submissions, it could certainly add up.

Asking for a hard copy is not a flag of anything, as far as I can see.