Stamp THIS!

Stamped, self addressed envelopes in case the jargon isn't second nature yet.
All agents require them if you query by snail mail.

The first time someone ambushed me with "what do you do with all those stamps" I was a little taken aback. I thought it was a joke. I was at a writing conference in front of 400 people so I said "I use them at the liquor store instead of cash of course."

Then someone else asked.

And then it showed up on the comments pile here.

I know I don't keep them. I know I answer every query letter I get that has one. I also know not all of you are getting them back.

First. Size matters. #10 SASE means a #10 sized envelope. It's the size a manuscript page fits in when folded in thirds. It's NOT a small envelope like you'd use in the offeratory plate at church or an odd sized envelope like you get for a wedding invitation. #10 is on the box of envelopes when you buy them. Look for it.

Second. Your address. Write it in ink. No return address labels from Easter Seals in place of the address. NO LABELS at all. If your handwriting sucks, learn to print envelopes on your printer. Pay your spouse to write them. Labels can peel off or get torn.

Third. Don't write the address in ink that smears. My office is infested with coffee gremlins, water bottles, and the like. The mailbox on the corner isn't exempt from being rained on.

Fourth. Put a stamp on it. You'd be surprised.

Fifth. If you don't hear back, write again. If you don't hear back again, you've just saved yourself from being represented by people who are not well organized. Not an expensive lesson at 34cents a pop. (oops. postage is 37 cents a pop as pointed out by a Snarkling in the comments section. All in all though, still a bargain rate.)

Sixth. If you don't hear back from ANYONE or more than 50% of the people you mailed to, the problem is on YOUR end.

Agents in the business of committing fraud do it in much more lucrative ways than stealing first class stamps. They ask you for reading fees. Or production costs. Or loans.


Anonymous said...

Welcome to 2005. One ounce of first class postage is now 37¢. (See your item called Fifth).

Miss Snark said...

oh. Ya. oops.

Anonymous said...

Here's what I do to Trick agents like you:

I send a full manuscript along with a letter saying "Thank you for requesting my novel xxxx" That way, either the agent or the assistant is inevitably forced to read it because neither wants to look stupid by not remembering that they've requested something. Do you think this is a good idea?

Mama Rose said...

I'm not an agent or a professional in the publishing industry. I'm just a person who thinks that lying is a poor way to start a business relationship. That said, Jennifer Jackson mentioned in her blog that she keeps records of requested manuscripts. She knows if she requested yours or if you're lying. I'd be surprised if other agents don't do the same. It makes sense, considering you're not the only person out there who thinks a lie is a good way to get past the gatekeeper, so to speak.


Sarah said...

To the last anon --

You know, if you want to start your relationship with your agent by being sneaky sending an unsolicited manuscript like that, do you really think that's going to bode well for your future?

Miss Snark said...

You can write what ever you want in the cover letter but we have a code for envelopes that are requested and a list of people we've asked to send us manuscripts.

Here's your free clue of the day: if your writing is good enough to be considered you don't need to trick us into reading it. Most agents I know aren't talking about too much good writing in their slush pile, they're talking about too much crap.

Quit trying to figure out a way to beat the system and work on your writing.

Peter L. Winkler said...

I stopped enclosing SASEs ages ago. It's a waste of money. If an agent likes my query, they'll call or email me.

Since all but a handful of the rejection letters I've received have been form letters, it's not worth receiving them anyway.

Even without enclosing SASEs on my last proposal, I received rejection lettesr from agents and editors by paper mail and a few emails, too.

ScaramoucheX said...

What do you expect of writers who live in Canada, for example, and have no access to US stamps?

Miss Snark said...

Regarding Mr Winkler's comment:
Has any agent called or emailed to ask for your material when you have not included an SASE or are all the answers form rejection letters?

Miss Snark said...

As for the Canadians in the crowd, you can purchase stamps in the mail from the US Postal Service. USPS.com

Anonymous said...

Miss S:

I'm happily agented (you'll be relieved to hear), but I, too, rarely used SASEs. If you get a manuscript you love, you'll call. Hell, if you get a manuscript you -love-, you'll friggin' sky-write. No?

I assume everything's a rejection until I get the call. So why bother with SASE?

Miss Snark said...

Dear Anon: No.
Glad you're happily agented.
I don't read unsolicited manuscripts ever. I read unsolicited query letters, sure. But if someone sends a ms I haven't requested, I generally toss it. I have enough to read already.

Am I going to miss something? Maybe.
Is it going to keep my office organized so I can function without frenzy. Yes.

I used to throw out letters without SASEs. Then I figured anyone that clueless deserved some compassion.

After this round of comments, I'm back to throwing them out.

Anonymous said...

Same Anon as above, here.

Sorry, I wasn't clear. (Hey, I said I was happily agented, not that I knew how to write!) I never sent unsolicited manuscripts--that's rude and (worse) stupid. I sent unsolicited cover letters with the first 10 to 20 pages and no SASE. If I don't hear back, that's a perfectly clear rejection. If I do hear, I send whatever's requested., still sans SASE.

I just don't see the benefit of SASEs to either of us. I'll send you my stuff. If you like, call me. If you don't, don't. Easier for you, too: no hassle keeping track of SASEs.

Mama Rose said...

Anonymous: You have a lot more faith in the USPS and internal mail systems of corporations than I do. The main reason for the SASE isn't to garner a bunch of rejections to wow my friends with. "You must be on your way. You're submitting and getting rejections to collect." It's to make sure it got there. The rejection or acceptance lets me know it wasn't lost. I'd hate to lose a sale because my query didn't get there and I had no way to know the intended recipient never had a chance to see it.


Miss Snark said...

Well, dearest Anon, first I don't keep track of SASEs. I open your missive; I answer it; I put the answer in the SASE; thence in the outgoing mailbox. Baddabing, baddaboom.

Here's the benefit of SASEs to me: I get 100 query letters a week. If I have to stamp every response that's $37 a week AND regular trips to stand in line at the post office.

$37 a week ain't much, but I'd rather spend it on
something more fun. Chocolate comes to mind.
Cigars. Martinis. Books.

Second. it's indicative of attitude. "The rules don't apply to me, I don't see why I should do this, you'll overlook the rules for me." Well, maybe some people are ok with that. I've found it bodes ill for
working with someone.

I'd rather the rulebreakers I work with be mavericks in their writing, not in their dealings with me.

It's a preference. Maybe other agents are cool with it. Fine. You'll find them, or they'll find you. One things for sure, you won't be here.

Peter L. Winkler said...

Miss Snark:

I have been called or received emails several times requesting my last proposal based on paper or email queries. This ocurred with agents and editors who I queried directly. No SASEs were enclosed.

And if they hadn't liked my query enough to ask for more, what do you think the SASE would have done? Put someone in a frame of mind to think better of my query before reading it?

Anonymous said...

It's actually "self-addressed, stamped envelope." SASE, not SSAE. Just to be correct, and snarky.

Anonymous said...


My faith in the USPS is religious. So far well-founded, but I suppose you're right.


I don't expect you to spend either a) a single minute, or b) $37, rejecting queries. I expect you to glance at your mail and toss what you don't like. You don't bother with rejections at all. Ever. In any way. Your silence is your rejection. I'm trying to figure how this makes your job more difficult. No lines. No stamps. No money. No letters. Now, on projects that interest you, you're out the cost of a phone call or, er, an email. But that's what, two percent?

Far as attitude goes, that's always a variable. I wouldn't want to work with an agent whose attitude distresses me, and I wouldn't want to work with an agent who's distressed by my attitude. Fair enough.

Miss Snark said...

That's Miss Snark to you boyo.

Look, different strokes, or stamps for different folks.
If your approach is working, who am I to tell you you're full of ..mmm...castor oil.

I know this: I never ever not once ever assume silence is no. That is a shortsighted approach to business. I've sold three things (recently enough that I can remember and far back enough that I can now laugh about it) that had months of silence.

If I had assumed that meant no, I'd have missed a sale.

Anonymous said...

As for rejection, I much prefer NO to all the snarky comments agents feel so compelled to make. You guys should hire David Spade as a rejection consultant. No more creativity than Nyet or Nein, please. Or maybe a rubber stamp "Rejected." I don't need to hear you write how well I write but there's no market--especially when Agent no. 2 calls me out of the blue and says he can walk into any house and sell it. If you don't want to rep me, keep your opinions to yourself.

Miss Snark said...

More on this on a fresh post!

Mark said...

I use e-mail exclusively but not always if they insist on hard copy. It always comes via an e-query. I just assumed six months of silence was a no and informed I was wrong. She hadn't read teh full yet. I was promised comments when that task is complete. Good deal.