Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Friday, July 18, 2008

In defense of e-queries

I am still trying to find a literary agent. I sent off a query package last week. Yes, you read that right: It was a PACKAGE. It was my query, synopsis, first three chapters and an SASE. All by snail mail. Costing almost $3. And I had to grumble over that, asking myself, "Do I really want to pay $3 just to be told 'I'm not the right agent for this'?" (That's actually a common response I have been getting. Sigh! I wonder if that's a new polite way of saying NO??)

I really had to think over that one, though. With the economy being in the kind of shape that it is, I have to be careful on what I'm spending money on. I mean, nowadays, people just can't throw money into the wind. Every penny we can save counts! So for this reason, I'm going to start just sticking with sending e-queries instead. The query I sent by post on Monday was my last snail-mailed query.

Of course, not everybody is so accepting of getting queried by email. I've seen quite a few agency sites that will NOT accept e-queries. Period. Too bad, I have to pass on those and try the agencies who do. (I have to wonder why it's so terrible to receive an e-query? I mean, if it's kept to one page, as it should be, then how is that any different than receiving a regular email? On that note, though, I saw one agency where the agent said sending an e-query was "unprofessional." I had to roll my eyes over that one. I also grumbled, "Sending e-queries isn't 'unprofessional.' You wanna talk unprofessional, pal? Fix your typos.")

I realize this means my query is going to HAVE to pull some muscle in trying to sell my story. It REALLY needs to be in the best shape possible. This is where a writer's skill with words must shine: The query must dazzle the agent! It has to be the best query you have EVER written and must contain EVERYTHING the agent wants to see in the query. (Some agents do specify what they want to see in a query.)

Just got to make sure the query doesn't end up reading like a "buzzword dictionary" or lose the agent in understanding just WHAT the story is about. Or make sure it's not cluttered with adjectives or stereotypical catchphrases. As long as the query is professionally written, edited and interesting, my gut tells me that should be enough to justify sending it by email instead of by post.

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  • At 8:47 AM , Blogger colbymarshall said...

    With my last manuscript (and this new one I'm getting ready) I only e-queried. I spent way too much money the first time on snail queries and figured out it's probably not worth it. And fact: all of my requests (EVERY SINGLE ONE) have come off of e-queries...

  • At 6:08 PM , Blogger Dawn Wilson said...

    Congrats on the requests, Colby! Good luck with your manuscripts.

  • At 12:26 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I've found so many agents and publishers that only accept e-query's anymore. I think eventually they should all become e-query, if only for the greening of the earth you know, less paper floating around. Unfortunately this will probably cause the stamps to go up in price you know.
    Well I wouldnt worry about 3 dollars going to waste. If you ever feel like you must query someone who does not accept e-queries then I think it is worth the occasional expense.


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