The quick answer is that I do almost all of my work online and very seldom have a need for a hard copy print out these days. A hard copy manuscript is practically useless to me. Besides that I tend to lose them. I toss them in the inbox
in the study along with a bunch of junk mail, and they can get away from
me. I seldom work there, mostly I work wherever my computer is, so I
don’t get in there to dig them out and deal with them often. I don’t
feel all that bad about it because our submission guidelines say I don’t
take hard copy submissions at all. Authors should NEVER submit without checking submission guidelines, so if I get one, I figure I’m dealing with someone that doesn’t follow instructions anyway.
Most editors I’m working with prefer to work
electronically, so I need clients that will work with me in that manner.
A person that tells me they don’t know how to do attachments or they
seldom email might as well be telling me they deliver handwritten
manuscripts. I need people who are keeping up with the changing
technology of the industry. A contract for one of my clients calls for
delivery of a hard copy manuscript. That client is ready to send the
final manuscript but when I checked with the editor to be sure, she said
even though the contract calls for hard copy, she’d rather have it
electronically. Exactly what I’m talking about, I want to see how well a
submitting client handles the technology.
A lot of editors and agents don’t want any attachments to an email. Some
want electronic submissions but want it all in the body of the email,
no attachments. Others, like me, don’t want hard copy submissions and do
want them as an attachment, not in the body of the email. Some will
take hard copy submissions and some, like me, don’t.
These differences point up why it is so important to check the
submission guidelines before we send to anybody. Those who don’t want
attachments probably are concerned about them containing viruses. I
understand that. I have massive virus protection and several layers of
backups, but understand at some point that I will have a problem. It’s a
cost of doing business.
A proposal in the body of an email is not a virus threat either, but I
prefer them attached as a single word or .rtf file because I like to see
if the writing is properly formatted, and if it’s a project I like it
is easier for me to use it as a base to build an agency proposal on. I
actually am evaluating the proposal, whether it provides what we ask for
in our submission guidelines at www.hartlineliterary.com and whether we
can see how well it would give us what we need to market the project as
much as we are looking at the writing itself.
So often at conferences I hear people say “I don’t see why they ask me
to submit like this, or any reason a proposal needs to contain that, or
some other facet called for in guidelines.” We ask for a little more in a
proposal than some others but we would rather have something and not
need it than to need it and not have it.
Other Hartline agents (and other agents in general) may accept things
differently. I can’t say it enough, we should never submit to anyone without checking their
submission guidelines to see if we are sending what they would like to
have in the manner they would like to see it.