That is the question.
Personally, I prefer the equery method. It saves time, and as much as we've moved in the last four years, it saves my SASEs from getting lost. (And as much as the USPS has changed rates, it saves the darned envelopes from being returned for insufficient postage. Bastages.)
However, some agents don't allow for equeries. There are a bunch of those I'd like to submit to, but I'm leery for the aforementioned reasons. *sigh* What to do, what to do? For now, I'll just have to hold my breath and hope for the best. My poor little SASEs will have to fly out into the great beyond and find their ways home when the time is right.
Of course, the same can be said for equeries. Since my e-mail program seems to be having problems delivering my replies to the appropriate people, I'm freaking out about whether my requested partial made it and whether emailing her to make sure it's not floating lost in cyberspace is a breach of etiquette. (Don't worry. If I don't hear from her after her typical 4-6 week lead time, I'll send her a polite note to check if the partial is indeed in her capable hands.) I'm fine with new mail, but replies are shooting off into the ether, never to be heard from again. First it was my CP, and now my niece. Gah!
So each method has its pitfalls. That's also why I put both my email addresses in my signature. I figure if they can't get my private email to me, they can catch me at my gmail address. That seems to be working fine. (If it weren't such a pain to compose mail there, I'd have sent everything out through that addy to begin with, but cutting and pasting into gmail changes the layout, and what a PITA. I'm all about ease of use.)
I really do understand why some folks don't accept e-mail queries. For one thing, they're too easy. No printing, no line at the post office, no paying the every-increasing postage rates. And too easy means anyone can shoot off a query without having to think about it too hard. Which also means even those people who really shouldn't be querying are sending out queries, flooding the poor agents with loads of poorly worded, misspelled and just basically unprofessional queries. I might quit accepting them, too, if I were faced with the flood. (It also makes it so much easier for rejected writers to reply with more vitriol than is either proper or necessary - like this letter some moron sent to a friend of agent Colleen Lindsay. Sheesh.)
However, some of us poor wretches need email. Sure, I'd like to own a house, have a concrete foundation underneath me for years at a time, but my life doesn't work that way right now. (Personally, I'd like about 100 acres with a lake and trees and cute furry critters that will learn to eat out of my hand, but wish in one hand, if you know what I mean.) No matter where I live, though, my email follows me around. If not my private addy, then my gmail is forever.
On the other hand, some agents who accept e-mail as well as snail have different guidelines for each. Often you can shoot more pages with a snail query than with an equery. More pages is always good, right? Of course it is. I'd love to print off fifty pages and send them out today to an agent who just informed me they stopped taking equeries and invited me to resubmit via snail*. But it isn't always prudent to do so. (See above reasons, and feel the fear of orphaned envelopes.)
*heavy sigh* I guess I'll just keeping doing it both ways, and hoping for the best. Right now, though, the equeries go out first, and the hardcopies will follow at a later date. As much as I love my computer, sometimes there are things it just can't do.
What's your mode of preference? Do you snail or e-query?
*Don't worry, I'm getting the packet together to send out tomorrow.
Brief Marketing Update 1
13 hours ago