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View Full Version : Email vs. Snail Mail Query-Response Rate?



rchastain
12-16-2005, 05:36 PM
It's tempting to query agents by email. A few even require it. However so many specify "no email" or a preference for regular mail I'm suspicious that email queries are always considered second class. The usual warning that if there's no interest there also will be no reply raises the specter of mass batch deletes whenever the inbox gets too full.

Email is more efficient and environmentally friendly. Also cheaper. Paper presentation is probably easier to read and may seem more professional. Since the life expectancy of a query is about five seconds doing anything at all that might reduce it seems insane.

I'm wondering how many people here have received responses---of any kind--- to emailed queries.

Thanks,
RC

waylander
12-16-2005, 06:17 PM
I would guess that I received replies to somewhere over half the e-mail queries I sent out. At least two have led to requests for the full manuscript.

smallthunder
12-16-2005, 06:25 PM
I personally don't think that any agent who accepts e-mail queries considers them "second-class" or "unprofessional" -- why would s/he accept them, then, when s/he sets the submission rules and could just as easily type "no e-mail" as "accepts e-mail"?

OK, theory aside -- I mostly queried agents who clearly stated they DID accept e-mails. I'm living overseas at the moment, with irregular mail delivery from the US. I knew I would go mad with the additionally torturous waiting game, and there's something to be said for the instant gratification of hitting "send" for an e-mail.

Bottom Line: A greater percentage of agents who accepted e-mail replied to my query (requesting more material or rejecting) than agents who only accepted snail-mail queries. If you're really interested in the numbers, I could go check my records ...

I should add that my novel is being represented by William Clark, who ONLY accepts e-mail queries.

popmuze
12-16-2005, 06:25 PM
Providing the agent says he/she accepts email queries, I've gotten a good rate of response from them, often positive, and usually by the end of the same day, if not within the hour!

In fact, if I haven't heard by the end of the second day, I usually assume there's no interest.

One time I sent out a rewritten query to the same agent who didn't respond to my first query in a couple of days, and got a request to see the manuscript a few hours later.

popmuze
12-16-2005, 06:28 PM
I personally don't think that any agent who accepts e-mail queries considers them "second-class" or "unprofessional" -- why would s/he accept them, then, when s/he sets the submission rules and could just as easily type "no e-mail" as "accepts e-mail"?

OK, theory aside -- I mostly queried agents who clearly stated they DID accept e-mails. I'm living overseas at the moment, with irregular mail delivery from the US. I knew I would go mad with the additionally torturous waiting game, and there's something to be said for the instant gratification of hitting "send" for an e-mail.

Bottom Line: A greater percentage of agents who accepted e-mail replied to my query (requesting more material or rejecting) than agents who only accepted snail-mail queries. If you're really interested in the numbers, I could go check my records ...

I should add that my novel is being represented by William Clark, who ONLY accepts e-mail queries.



Congratulations on Clark. He turned down my query with a form email (within about a hour).

WriteStuff
12-16-2005, 06:58 PM
I think the idea of email querying is terrific. I've had the same rate of response, and rejection vs acceptance as the rates quoted for any type of query. About half respond, and I have a roughly 1 out of 10 acceptance rate (asking for partials).

My worry is that email is not exactly all that reliable. In fact, it has recently come to my attention via personal emails that some are not going through, or being received. So the fear there is how would you know if you missed a positive response? I guess the same could be said for snail mail however. Things get lost in the mail. How would you know? It just seems email should be much more reliable. Then again, if they were rejections, it's okay with me if they go floating off into cyber space.

DaveKuzminski
12-16-2005, 06:58 PM
A number of agents and publishers have told me that that they don't want emailed queries and subs because too many of those arrive poorly formatted. That makes those more difficult to read and understand which means more time has to be devoted to what should be a smooth, quick process. They're also concerned about picking up a virus in an attachment because someone didn't check their own computer to see that it was clean.

Sonarbabe
12-16-2005, 09:27 PM
I've had mixed luck with email queries. On the one hand, I've had about a half dozen requests for partials and fulls through this method and an equal amount of form rejections, along with about 4 or 5 no responses. If they say that they accept e-queries, then go for it. If they prefer snail mail, send it that way, just make sure you have some one cent stamps to go on your SASE since postage rates are going up in January.

Julie Worth
12-16-2005, 11:56 PM
... just make sure you have some one cent stamps to go on your SASE since postage rates are going up in January.

Dang!
Well, so much for my last batch. For want of a penny! But I suppose, if they actually want to see my stuff, they might make the investment.

Sonarbabe
12-17-2005, 12:01 AM
Actually, I read on an agent's blog that some agents invest in one cent stamps for cases like this. My full was sent out in Oct., LONG before I knew about the rate jump. I can only imagine that some will take that into account for at least a couple weeks after the postal change.

britwrit
12-18-2005, 12:21 AM
I'm just starting to query but I think I prefer snail mail - simply because it lets you really think your letters about before you send them out. I e-mailed out this query about a week ago which i thought was bright and witty but when i reread it today, stood revealed as truly awful.

Christine N.
12-18-2005, 06:24 AM
Ah, but I threw together an e-query in about five minutes, and it was so good that it's gotten partial requests from almost all. The others, well, most of them were the 'if we don't reply, we don't want it' ones.

I hate those. At least acknowledge you got the stupid thing.

dragonjax
12-18-2005, 06:54 AM
I just looked at my stats for my third novel, which I wound up getting representation and sold to a publisher.

TOTAL QUERIES SENT: 31
E-QUERIES (EQ): 21
POSTAL QUERIES (PQ): 10
TOTAL PARTIALS REQUESTED: 12 (10 EQ; 2 PQ)
TOTAL "AUTOMATIC" PARTIALS WITH THE QUERY: 5 (1 EQ; 4 PQ)
TOTAL FULLS REQUESTED: 10
TOTAL FULLS STRAIGHT FROM QUERY: 1 (EQ)
FULLS REQUESTED AFTER READING PARTIAL: 9
TOTAL OFFERS MADE: 5
TOTAL PULLS FROM ME (ALREADY ACCEPTED OFFER): 4
TOTAL NON RESPONSES: 9 (8 EQ; 1 PQ)
TOTAL OTHER (AGENT CALLED TO REQUEST NOTIFICATION IF EXCLUSIVE OF FULL IS AVAILABLE: 1 (PQ)

--

Based on my experience, I'd say that you'll hear positive responses faster from e-queries, but if you want a guaranteed response, you're better off with a postal query. And no matter what, I'd respect the agent's guidelines--if an agent says "no e-queries," I'd send a postal query.

triceretops
12-18-2005, 07:15 AM
Out of about 150 email queries covering three books, (and that's not exhausting the sources), I have received about a 55% non-response rate, and half of those proclaimed that they answered back via email with either a yay or nay. I'm getting pretty damn sick of this kind of treatment, where I thought this email thing was revolutionary. I'm from the old school of paper and stamps, and sold books, dozens of short stories, radios plays and other pubs via snail mail. I've probably had about 10-12 requests for partials and fulls via email, and this is unacceptable to me. I cannot track and record agents and editors who mass-delete. I'm in the process of snail mailing all of those I missed with personal touches that are directed personally at the agents/editors to up these odds.

Half of all agents/editors who admit to accepting or prefering email queries admit up front that they are terrified of spam and viruses. Therefore if you do not get the directions right: proper subject line, right format, exact headers, precise indentation, exact font, page number placement, bio and address placement, single or double space, underline or italics, etc, etc. this will get you an imediate dismisal (eraser). I find these stringent guidelines, which don't appear as readily in snail mail directions, to be a more prevelant excuse for making your submissions go poof into cyber space.

Email definitely has its advantages over snail. But I believe that it is horrendously abused now, both by authors and agent/editors. Email is also less personal and carries the stigma of the mecho-age. I'd much rather have an editor/agent open a real piece of mail on his/her couch in front of a crackling fire, than have them hunched over their computer, in the confines of an office environment. And believe me, agents/editors drag their snail mail around with them and read that stuff in all sorts of environments--parks--coffee shops--amusement parks--family room settings--waiting in the car, and so on. How do I know this? They've told me. Nothing--absolutely nothing will ever replace the intimacy and convienence of a nice letter that comes out of an envelope.

Now, as far as patial and full subs? Every dang agency and house should allow electronic submissions to cut down on this terrible waste of materials and expense to the author. I needed a part time job just to afford my submission mail from 1988--1991. But hey, those were dozens and dozens of positive requests, and I was hitting 60--70 percent request rates. I made 15 times the money back through the sales generated when it was all said and done

Tri