Pub Rants

Myth Buster #1—Walk This Way

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STATUS: Okay, I have a secret to divulge. I didn’t go to World Fantasy because I opted to be in the Caribbean with my hubby for his business trip. For me, it’s mostly vaca with a light smattering of reading work for current clients. Hence, it will probably be blog light all week.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? No little iPod.

I just had to chuckle at one of the posted comments from Friday’s entry about agents walking the manuscript over to the editor. Because no agent, even if they live in the Big Apple, would ever walk a manuscript over to a publishing house therefore saving the messenger fee.

Why? Well, first, who wants to lug loads of paper around the subway? But here’s the real reason. Agents don’t mail manuscripts these days. I kid you not. We email it. There are some exceptions (and agents know the editors who will insist on a hard copy etc.).

It’s very rare that I’ll actually snail mail a manuscript. For the good majority of my projects, there’s not enough time. I’ll have an offer in within days and if an editor asked for a hard copy, he or she probably hasn’t even received it before the excitement gets going. I end up emailing it anyway.

And I want to be very clear that I’m not poking fun at this comment poster. In fact, I think the he or she is brilliant for bringing it up because this puts me in mind for a whole series of rants I could do this week about publishing misconceptions and the perceived advantages and disadvantages of being based in New Yor (or not) and how we actually work.

The “manuscript mailing costs” just being one of them.

21 Responses

  1. Anonymous said:

    I’m happy to hear you guys use email for that stuff. It’s alot safer and more pratical in my opinion.

  2. Zany Mom said:

    So after we authors snail mail you the ms, if you like it, you want the electronic copy?

    Most agents don’t accept e-mail attachments — but you must allow them from clients, then?

    I’m picturing you slapping all 500 pages of a manuscript onto a scanner so you can e-mail it…

  3. spyscribbler said:

    I can’t see how even living in Timbuktu would make a difference, as long as one had a computer. We’re so connected to everyone, online.

    Makes me wonder, though, if things were different ten, fifteen years ago? If being based in New York then, did make a difference?

    If so, then maybe the prejudice is just moving slower than our society. Isn’t that always the truth, anyway?

  4. The Unpretentious Writer said:

    I’m from Philly (and yes, indeed we do rock), and as far as I see it, as long as we have the ability to communicate instatly from any point in the world, what does being in NYC matter?

    Maybe that was the way long ago, you know, when you had to send the ms to the editor via Pony Express, but this is the 21st century.

    verif = qweat (local slang, lit. ‘Can we eat?’)

  5. Mari Mancusi said:


    I think the “no attachment” thing is just so they don’t have to open random files from strangers. Once you’re a client you can attach to your heart’s content. 🙂

    It works great because when I send my stuff to Kristin in MS Word, she can use Track Changes to make comments and suggestions and then email the manuscript directly back to me. I make the changes and send it back to her and she can now send out to editors. No paper required!!

    My old agent (a NYC one) used to snail mail the manuscripts to editors and then charge me for the postage and printing. It got expensive – like over $100. I’d MUCH rather have them emailed for free!!


  6. Kimber An said:

    I electronically mailed a partial to an agent. No big deal really. My husband converted it to something and then downloaded it. Like I always say, “Slaying dragons is nice, but it takes a real hero to make a lady’s computer work for her.”

  7. Anonymous said:

    Heheheh, I think it is valuable to clarify. I work from home and I get buried under paper. So I rarely print anything… faxes, invoices, emails… all electronic. So I just assume everyone else does business the way I do. But! That’s not necessarily true.. we know what ASSuming can mean, so clarity is always good.

    Thanks for the update. I hope you have some great reads.


  8. Anonymous said:

    Mari, are you trying to make our hearts ache? Some of us were rejected by Cristin, agent of our dreams, while you have not only been accepted, but have this enviable exchange going on with your manuscript. Sob!

  9. LadyBronco said:

    rashenbo – I hear ya on the paper. Between my homework and my job and the kids homework and…you get the idea…the stacks of paper are horrendous. I wish more folks would just give up the ghost and convert to paperless communication. How much easier would that make life?

  10. Anonymous said:

    Oops, Kristin, not Cristin. My daughter’s name is Cristin, so it’s an understandable mistake.

  11. Mags said:

    People always make it seem like being in NYC is the only way to get into the writing game. I live in Chicago and I don’t plan on going to New York any time soon. That said I do think its harder to get started in Chicago. I have a short story completed that I am looking to submit to get my name out there and I’m really not sure how. I’m also working on a novel but seeing as I am in grad school and working full time that will be a long time coming. Any advice on how to get things started, some reputable places to submit a short story?

  12. Michelle said:

    This was something I learned this year with my own agent. I was asked to e-mail the full manuscript after she liked my sample pages and then she signed me at RWA. It makes sense! Publishers definitely know you are represented by an agent when your book comes via e-mail. You’re absolutely out of the slush pile. I’m a big fan. 🙂

  13. ~Nancy said:

    I have a short story completed that I am looking to submit to get my name out there and I’m really not sure how.


    What genre do you write in? If it’s spec fic (SF/fantasy/horror), try this:

    Has info on pro ‘zines (web and print), semi pro, for the love, etc. Great resource.

    For all sorts of genres, try this one:

    You get to choose whatever genre you’re writing in.

    Good luck to you!


  14. curious said:

    My own ms is going to be shopped by my agent ina week or two and I was curious about the process – does the agent send a query first, just as we do, and then get a request for the ms, or does she just mail it over? I heard this rumour about editors having stacks of mss all in different coloured folders, and each agent has a different colour folder, and the WMA folders are dark blue and get priority. Is that true?

  15. Anonymous said:

    Kimber An – I agree. I can slay my own dragons, but when it comes to the computer, my husband is my hero!