From the Of Course Department

June 22nd, 2004 · No Comments
by Booksquare

We once attended a conference where, in separate sessions, Allison Dickens of Ballantine and Stacey Creamer of Doubleday suggested the publishing industry looks to other media for trends. This, by the way, should not be news, and they were talking about “hot” topics for fiction. But that’s another posting. Now it appears publishers (and agents — though we’ve found agents to be more modern in this respect) are seeing electronic submissions as desirable. Okay, not desirable, but maybe practical. It’s so much easier to skim queries on your Blackberry versus hauling reams of paper on the train.

We enjoy the fact that some publishers (HarperCollins/Avon, for one) have set up a system that works; others (apparently, Warner Books) haven’t quite gotten it together. Publishing is an old school industry, but not everyone knows the old school rules (heck, if you look at the annals of publishing history, this has always been the case). Of course, our strong advice is never to email an editor or agent directly at their personal, private email address unless you’ve been given explicit instructions to do so. We can’t begin to express how much a turn-off unsolicited and undesired email can be. Think about how much you love spam…and how your query could be perceived as such.

Which brings us to our conflicting thoughts on the paid services. On the surface, it makes sense. We like ease-of-use and streamlining effort (lazy folk always do). And, based on the article, some authors have had success. Yet we can’t help but ask if broadcast queries are worth the cost. They certainly can’t be targeted. The price paid for help in drafting a query letter is high (if you can’t write the letter, what does that say about your book?). The response rate, we imagine, isn’t much higher than it would be if the author purchased stamps and went to the post office.

File Under: Publishers and Editors