Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Advent of the Kindle

I’ve finally jumped on the bandwagon and got myself a Kindle. Yippee! Since every other agent has already extolled its virtues, I think I’ll skip that for now and just tell you that it’s great. I wonder though how much I’ll use it for pleasure reading rather than submissions and client manuscripts. After all, I do get a lot of books for free.

However, getting the Kindle as well as some recent blog exchanges has made me think of the necessity of revised submission guidelines, and I suspect this isn’t just the case for BookEnds, but would probably be true for all agents across the board.

In the old days of paper and snail mail authors would typically create separate files for each document. If you had a request for a full manuscript you could open that file and print it out. If it was a request for a partial and synopsis you could open each of those files and print each out, clip them together and send them along. Now though, more and more people are asking for submissions to be emailed. So how can you ensure that your submission gets there in one piece and is all safely attached to your letter. In other words, how can you make it easy on the agent and, at the same time, make sure that you’re still getting a reply?

My advice is this (and we will be posting this on our Web site too): emailed submissions should always be sent as an attachment, preferably Microsoft Word (since that’s probably the most universally used program) in one file. And, to be extra safe, I would suggest including your letter along with the attachment. In other words, write a letter in the body of the email reminding the agent that the material was requested and that you’ve attached it. Then include the same letter (and as I’ve said numerous times before, this letter should be similar to your first query in that it also gives a blurb). Think of it as your reminder to the agent of what the book is and what made her get so excited about it in the first place. And for those who want exact rules I would say letter first (including all contact information), chapters or manuscript second, and synopsis last. One file.

I know some of this seems redundant and annoying to you, and I fully understand. However, I also know that even before the Kindle I would often print the material out and there was nothing worse than printing out a partial only to turn to it later to realize that you had no clue who wrote it or how to respond. And, since I’ve been told that our guidelines aren’t completely clear I thought I’d make them more clear.