What happens to all the postage I send to agents who have asked for my manuscript (and a SASE)? My experience is that three out of four times I get the brush-off via e-mail a month or so later, and the manuscript, I suppose, is recycled. And the postage? Is hoarding stamps one of the perks of a literary agent, along with glamorous lunches and parties?
We don't hoard them, we steam them off your envelope and take them down to Starbucks on the corner where we use them to buy mocha frappucinos and talk about how stupid people are to actually send SASEs when they know we do this.
You didn't know Starbucks redeems stamps? You thought the only place to use stamps was on letters? Silly you.
If your SASEs have a return rate of 25% I guarantee the problem is you, not me.
Are you sending postage to return the entire manuscript? Don't. No one returns manuscripts weighing more than 16 ounces. The post office sends them back to us or trashes them as "hazardous". Any mail over 16 ounces has to be handed in personally at the post office. This means hauling the ms to the PO, and waiting in line. Almost every agency in town doesn't return mss any more. It's just too troublesome. Standard format is send the ms with a #10 biz envelope and a 37 cent stamp. We recycle the pages and send you a letter.
If you're sending a #10 envelope and they aren't coming back:
Are you using the address labels sent to you free by Easter Seals or other charities as your address on the envelope? (there's a reason they are called return address labels and it's not cause they go on SASEs).
Are you addressing the envelope to yourself with the right address? (I get SASEs with MY address as the both the to and from)
I've heard this complaint from a couple of people over the years but almost everyone else I know who sends queries with the correct SASE hears back. If you don't, it's probably a problem on your end.