E-Queries Are Outperforming Snail Mail Queries — in Professionalism and Author Platform

This past week, Kelly has been reviewing a few months’ worth of snail mail submissions to Writer’s Digest Books. The stack was becoming so large it had nearly taken over her desk. Now she’s finally whittled down the prospects to three writers (some agented) that she will request further information from.

But she had a notable realization coming out of this hours-long review of query packages:

  • We respond very quickly to e-queries, but snail mail queries can sit for months.
  • Snail-mail query writers are less professional and less aware of industry practices than writers who query us via e-mail.

There are still many agents and editors who strongly prefer snail-mail queries, and refuse to accept e-queries. However, each year that passes, I see more and more acceptance and preference for the e-query, and we’re even seeing the end of paper-based submissions at some publications/agencies.

In the Writer’s Digest Books guidelines, we say that we strongly prefer electronic submissions and encourage writers to contact us via e-mail. My work e-mail address is incredibly available to anyone who cares to look for it. (Do a Google search on “Jane Friedman Writer’s Digest” and you’ll see what I mean. I’ve made my e-mail address public at PublishersMarketplace.)

For me, this means:

  • Anyone who snail mails me hasn’t done their research on how I prefer to be contacted, or how Writer’s Digest prefers to be contacted.
  • Anyone who calls me has blatantly ignored the guidelines that say, “No phone calls.” This is why I rarely, if ever, return phone calls of writers who query by phone.
  • Anyone who is uncomfortable with online research and communication probably isn’t someone I want to work with. It might indicate a writer with no online platform or community.

On a somewhat lighter and bizarre take: I’ve included a couple images of strange query letters we received.

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