The Changing Face of Querying

Well, I’ve started querying literary agents in a substantial way over the past couple of weeks.  My first novel, The Anthanian Imperative–Blue, is ready for someone to take a hard, serious look at, and I’ve started trying to get an agent interested.  But querying nowadays is a little different–at least for me–than it used to be.  Now, almost all of my queries have been by e-mail.  I’m used to printing out a copy of the query letter, several pages or a chapter or two of the novel, perhaps a short bio or resume, and a stamped, self-addressed envelope (I never did understand how an envelope could address itself) and stuffing it into a 9 X 12 manila envelope and trudging down to the Post Office to mail.

Times have changed.  Now I have to prepare the same documents, including the letter, but now I type or copy them onto the New Message page of my e-mail provider.  I like that.  It doesn’t cost me any more than the regular monthly charge for internet service, and anyway, since I have internet service I might as well use it.  There’s no more postage to mail the envelope, no more gas that takes me to the Post Office.  It’s quite simplifying.  (Now I know why the Post Office is in financial trouble.)

There has been a short learning curve, though.  I always worry about the quality of the e-mal message when it gets to the recipient.  I tried several test e-mails, sending them to myself, and scanned the results.  In some cases, the email came through with margins changed, line spacing altered, or font shifted.  When I’m sending an e-mail to someone looking for any reason whatsoever to reject my request, I want it to be as close to perfect as possible.  So I fiddled around until I got it just the way I wanted it.  I wanted it too look as good as a regular mail query where I’m used to being able to control exactly what the letter looked like down to the most insignificant detail.  It’s important to make sure everything looks perfect.  But heaven only knows where it will go from here.

I did submit a query to one agent who requested regular mail, and I dutifully sent off a neat letter and a few pages from the manuscript.  I thought it went out looking really good until I realized, several days later, that I hadn’t put in the SSAE.  Since you don’t have to have an SSAE with e-mail and I’d become so accustomed to not having to put it in, I’d forgotten all about it.  Live and learn.  I do have another query I’m working up right now which will be regular mail, and you can bet I’ll have an SSAE in that one.  On the other hand, I expect most of my queries from now on will be e-mail and I’m looking forward to sending them out.  Wish me luck.  How are yours going?

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