Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The Earth Takes One for the Team, Again

Hi Rejecter,

Why do agents still go from a five-page sample with a query, to a partial, to a full? I understand the wisdom of taking samples and partials when submissions arrive primarily in dead tree form, but in this day of electronic submissions and vast inboxes, storage doesn't seem like it would be a problem. What other function does the system serve for agents?

I'm to combine the answer with an answer to this comment by someone else:

Yes, Priority + DC is what I use. I was callling that "Express," without realizing that express actually means overnight.

So, when facing a dinosaur (i.e. they insit upon snail mail), then I respond with Priority mail + DC. There is never a reason for overnight. If they want it that fast, I'd say they need to accept emailed attachments.

Furthermore, it's becoming an environmental taboo to use paper and fuel-hogging snail mail--I don't want to be repped by an environmentally insensitive company, so if they don't take e-mail, they're probably not going to work out for me, anyway.

Mionions, I have spoken.

So this may be shocking to some people, but some people have problems reading manuscripts on a computer screen. The computer screen was not designed to be easy on the eyes and e-Readers are still ludicrously expensive. So is printer ink and paper and we don't like spending money on a client until they are actually a client, because then it's just lost money. So, when we ask for something in hard copy, it's so we can read it without our eyes starting to burn. Granted I'm on the internet a lot, I do read things online, but if I had to do it all day every day for novels, I would be wearing glasses a lot sooner. Yes, it's not environmentally friendly. You know what's not environmentally friendly? Basically everything we as human beings do on this planet. So until they invent an e-Reader that's like $20 and everyone in the publishing industry buys one to save paper, deal with it.

Moving on and assuming the agent asked for hard copy, most agents don't ask for 5 page partials. they ask for at least 30 or 50 pages, or three chapters. I knew an agent who asked for 5 pages, but she made a lot more partial requests than the average agent, knowing the writing would just knock off most of the submissions and she could tell that in 5 pages. It wasn't very paper-efficient and I don't know if she still does that.

If you feel really bad about the environment, watch the show Life After People, which relieves some of the collective guilt by showing just how quickly nature will reclaim the earth after we're gone.


Anonymous said...

Yes it is true that we will always have an impact on the environment, as does every animal species, but that is exactly the kind of selfish and uncaring attitude that has gotten us into the mess we are in today. Most of us have to sit in front of a computer and read every day, so I don't buy your excuses.

I am just tired of people not willing to change to better the world just for the sake of convenience.

The Rejecter said...

Hey I recycle, take public transportation, etc etc. I'm not saying I don't care about the environment. I am saying that it is not easy on the eyes to read novels on computer screens with the current technology and therefore people in the publishing industry work from hard copy.

The Rejecter said...

Besides, it's not like we don't recycle our paper. If you want to get mad, you should see what the magazine industry does.

Enusan said...

Using the internet does is not a clean solution. Sending email takes energy, energy takes oil and coal. The amount of pollutants we throw up into the air by keeping a computer on all the time is comparable to what it takes to ship a package from one place to another and to cut down a tree for the paper.

Just because we can't see the result of our energy consumption does not mean that it is not happening.

issendai said...

Thanks for answering my question. I was under the impression that electronic submissions were more common, but if you're still working from paper, going from partials to fulls makes perfect sense.

Charlie Rice said...

I recycle like most of us, admittedly by law, and I do care, but I think the environmental concerns from most people are not about the planet really; their concerns are whether or not the planet will have them.

George Carlin phrased it nicely. “The Earth is fine. The Earth isn’t going anywhere. It’s the people that are leaving.”

Etiquette Bitch said...

rejecter, i like your comments, esp. at the end.

the "green fad" was all we heard about 20 years ago, and then the press stopped reporting on it. now it's back. I'm tired of being told to "be more green" -- especially when NBC is running commercials telling me to turn off my lights, when, i'll guess, they're probably not turning off their lights + using a ton of paper cups.

you know what's bad for the earth? producing children, especially american children who will, statistically, become uber-consumers. when people give me grief for not "being green" i remind them that i do not -- and will not-- have children, so I *am* pretty darn "green."

(ps- i also recycle, carry my own water bottle, etc. but i'm tired of being preached to.)

rejecter--i thought in a much earlier post you said you *don't* recycle? (because of the cost, trucks, gas, etc.?)

Thomas said...

I wonder if Alan Weisman, author of "The World Without Us," submitted on paper?

TammyT said...

This is why all agents and publishers need to have a Kindle :)

The Rejecter said...

I recycle the stuff that is worth recycling in my state (glass bottles are always worth it, plastic bottles generally worth it) and stuff I'm required to recycle at work.

Anonymous said...

I'm not so sure that e-mail and files are more environmentally friendly than mailed paper, anyway.

All those computers require electricity, which comes mostly from burning coal and oil.

Basically, the average consumer today simply does not have the necessary information at his/her disposal to make an informed decision as to the environmental impact of an single consumer action. There are just too many variable. It is impossible to say with scientific certainy that paper is worse for the environment than e-mail. It cannot be determined unless you know the exact process by which the paper in quesiton was made, where its source materials came from and how they were obtained--you have to know the precise details of the ENTIRE supply chain of both the paper, and every single computer you'd be intereating with to send the e-mail. This can simply not be done, so, in short. no one knows what is better or worse for the environment, they can only speculate. In fact, oil and gas may even be more environmentally friendly than bioenergy and solar power, but I'll save that argument for another post.

So doing everyhting with computers definitely has an environmental cost, including the disposal of all those mercury-laden electronics at the end of their life-cycles.

That said, at the query stage with maybe a single chapter max inlcuded, agents should be able to deal with reading that on screen or printing it out at their own expense. I'm willing to mail (make that Priority Mail) requested partials or fulls, but I won't do that for Q's.

Minions, I have spoken.

Anonymous said...

I agree with not being able to read off a computer screen.

Try though I may to do as much rewriting as possible without having to print out a fresh copy with each round, I miss tons and tons of mistakes.

Reading off paper is so much easier and I also agree if Kindles were twenty bucks then I'd be very happy to read off of one of them.

I'm actually more intrigued by agents that actually request partials by mail. I'm in the querying stage and everyone I've encountered that wanted to see more of my ms has said to send it as an email attachment. I'm assuming this is because they could scan a few pages on their computer (to see if they liked the voice, tone) and then print out however much they wanted to see after that.

No mailing required.

none said...

I read off a computer screen. I read blogs, review ebooks, slush, edit, and a whole load of other stuff.

I'm always relieved to get away from the shiny bright hurty screen to a nice harmless papery thing.

Elissa M said...

Don't forget the environmental cost of producing computers, etc. I don't know what the energy costs are to turn a tree into paper, but I do know the trees in question are grown for the purpose.

I do believe in reducing my impact on the environment. I'm just not sure some of the loudest "green" voices have all the right answers.

Anonymous said...

It helps to set your default Word window color to a dull blue or gray, rather than the default white. Much easier on the eyes.