This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
by Anna Bell
I haven’t been writing for that long – it will be six years this summer – yet, I feel as though I started trying to become a writer in a different age as the publishing process has changed so much in such a short space of time. Did you ever submit your submissions on paper?
I printed my manuscript out last week to do an edit. As much as I love Kindle and computer editing, I like to do at least one paper and pen edit. I don’t know whether there’s something psychological about seeing all the annotations and crossed out lines in pen, which make you think that you’re hacking away at a messy WIP, but I love a good paper edit. With this edit, I got slightly nostalgic; it reminded me of when I used to print out manuscripts all the time.
When I first started submitting my work to agents, it was done with the aid of the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook and a lot of paper. Each submission had to be printed and posted to what seemed like an anonymous agent. Okay, so I didn’t start writing in the dark ages, and the internet did exist, but it was a lot harder to find information about agencies back then, and Twitter was only in its infancy. I used to take my submissions very seriously; I had bright metallic jiffy bags, which I would post them in. It used to cost a small fortune and that’s not even taking into account the stamped addressed postcard for receipt of the sample, as well as a SAE envelope to cover the return of the it, which I always included, too.
After about a year or so of submitting, it became more and more acceptable to email submissions to agents. I was a bit dubious at first, thinking there was something nice about physically sending the sample. I thought it was easier to read if it was sitting there in front of you, and not buried in an inbox. I knew from my own work how easy it was to miss emails and I imagined that the submission letter would have to be amazing to make them actually open the attachment.But then it all seemed to change. I started to follow a lot of agents on Twitter, and quite a few of them had started to blog or vlog and they became less scary and intimidating. It became just as exciting to see an email in an inbox as it did when I received my returned manuscript. In fact it was more exciting as you could fantasise for a second that it was a yes rather than a no (with the hefty physical parcel being returned it was a pretty clear indication of a no before you opened the envelope.)
By going paperless with submissions, not only did I save money and probably lots of trees, but it solved that dilemma of what to do with the discarded samples and submissions, too. I couldn’t resend them to other agents as they’d clearly been handled and read and, after the first few were returned, I already had enough scrap paper for life.
It seems funny to think how different the submission process was and how much it has changed in just a few years. I wonder if agents still get paper submissions, and whether they prefer email or if they’d rather go back to the old paper system? Did you ever submit via physical mail? Or do you prefer email?