(Fore)going Postal

Hi Writers,
Please excuse me for abruptly ending My Archival Wanderings without proper closure, but I have a wonderful excuse: Our managing editor (and contributor to this blog) Kara Gebhardt Uhl had a baby this weekend. Congratulations Kara!

I’ll keep posting My Archival Wanderings occasionally, when the spirit moves me.

But just to let you know, I’m now serving as de facto managing editor in addition to my regular gig as the Editor of Writer’s Digest. And well, I’m busy. Really, really busy. The managing editor is the key person on staff responsible for all of the editorial trains coming in on time, so to speak.

One of the responsibilities I’ve had to take over for now is overseeing our general submissions including a two-foot high stack of good-old U.S. mail queries and submissions. Well, to make a long story short, I’ve had to confront how truly inefficient this system is.

Now because Writer’s Digest has been taking mail queries since the days of the pony express, this wasn’t an easy decision to make, but I’ve decided to change our editorial guidelines to state that we’re now exclusively accepting e-mail queries. You can read our updated submissions guidelines here.   

Here’s the list of pros and cons I made to come to this decision:
• E-mail queries are faster and more efficient to process
• E-mail queries save writers money (stamps and stationery)
• E-mail queries are better for the environment
• E-mail queries won’t make me the victim of a tragic envelope-licking accident

• Hmmm…can’t think of anything to write here

OK, good decision or bad? Feel free to yell at me in ALL CAPS!!! I can take it–just don’t mail it.

Keep Writing,

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10 thoughts on “(Fore)going Postal

  1. Lori Widmer

    Terrific decision. One con – you’re going to get a ton of crappy email submissions from people who won’t bother to read the submission guidelines. Well, maybe that will echo the old paper query method… ;))

  2. Leigh Ann

    I totally feel you. As an editor, I prefer e-mail queries 100 times over, particularly because I can easily toss them in an e-mail folder and pull them up whenever I’m ready. They take up no desk space, and you can just pull up an e-mailed submission right beside an ideas doc and then copy and paste whatever.

    Plus, I open e-mail every day. I open mail only when I find the time. And e-mail doesn’t carry the risk of getting buried on my messy desk. 🙂

    About the environment: Most people already have computers; they’re not having them made just so they can send me e-mails.

    But the other posters make a good point about spam folders. I have a problem with that on the other side; I often contact writers who don’t ever get my messages. If I don’t hear from them, I’ll e-mail them from my personal account (gmail) which pretty much always gets through.

    If I were a freelancer, I think I’d set up two e-mail accounts with two different sites. If I didn’t hear from an editor after, say, a month, I’d send the query again from the other account and note why ("just making sure you got this because …").

  3. :Donna

    I agree with pretty much everything that’s said here, although I do understand that your comment about it being better for the environment had more to do with "not wasting trees" than "less toxic". The comment on what harmful materials are used to make a computer (and virtually every other plastic-related or electronic-related product on this planet) — he’s totally right.

    I, too, am afraid of the spam folder. I especially agree with the "reply" button. When online, the fact that it’s easier for we writers to send queries, it’s also easier for editors (or staff) to reply, even if it’s a "form" reply. We writers spend so much time in "submission limbo", there’s nothing more relieving than a reply, even if it’s negative, simply for closure’s sake.
    : Donna

  4. Helen Gallagher

    Dear Maria,
    Congratulations on the promotion to Managing Editor. It’s wonderful to see you rise up the masthead. I was worried when they sent you digging in the archives. 🙂

    Most firms I write for do accept queries via email only. I don’t think you’ll meet resistance with that. But don’t forget the "Reply" button. We writers love affirmation.

    Helen Gallagher

  5. Allen Hott

    As a freelancer who was submitting queries prior to the internet, I applaud your decision…………..

    IF you plan to anwer the email queries!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    What I have found is that editors tell me that because of the internet the volume of submissions is so huge that they can NO LONGER respond.

    I feel if a writer takes the time to build an idea into article potential the editor (or staff) should take the time to answer the query.

    Thank you for listening to an old man!!!

  6. Susan Johnston

    I think it’s an improvement, because email is easier and faster for everyone involved. I love email queries, but there could be writers who aren’t as web-savvy. And of course, there’s always the concern that your query ends up in the editor’s spam folder.

  7. James A. Ritchie

    Oh, about the environment. Do you really think a renewable resource like paper harms the environment as much as all the petroleum, minerals, and chemicals that must be used to make a computer? Computers may be a lot of things, but better for the environment is not one of them.


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