12.06.2005

The Nitwit Registry

I just finished reading "The First Five Pages" by Noah Lukeman and he encourages the aspiring writer to do just that -- spend the extra money and have the letter registered. He says it may tick off the agent or editor, but it will get the person's attention. Not a trick I would personally try, but I pity anyone who read this part of the book and went out and did just as Lukeman suggests...like this poor bloke did...



Yanno, I just don't get this advice.
Maybe he works in an office with people staffing the door from 9-5 but I don't. And a lot of my colleagues don't either.

When you send a registered letter, the recipient has to sign for it. That means ME. Not my intern, not my dogwalker, not Grandmother Snark, not the doorman. If I'm not here to sign for it I have to go to the post office and get it. Now, unlike the post offices in OtherPlace, America, the postal clerks HERE are New Yorkers. They don't take no guff from no one no how.

So after you stand in line for 10 minutes (minimum) you get to the window, hand over the pink slip and then, the clerk squints at you: "ID!". You haul out your PASSPORT cause you don't drive and don't have a license. Clerk looks at the passport photo, looks at you, looks again. "Names don't match". This is of course because you've addressed the query letter to the AGENCY name which may not be the agent's legal name anymore (witness protection sure, but marriage and other crimes can be involved). You bring out your business card. No dice.
More squinting. More consultation with supervisor. Time ticks by.

Well, you get the idea.

Now, when all these shenanigans are finished and you're actually clutching the letter, is it a notice from Shyster Snark that you've won eight gazillion dollars in the Poodle Sweepstakes? noooo..it's a damn query letter. Take it from me, you do NOT want me reading your query letter at this moment in time.

And even if I AM in the office when PostalPete comes a'calling, do you really think that sending a registered letter from YOUR ADDRESS means I'm going to be fooled into thinking it's something that needs my immediate attention. Only if you work for a law firm, used their letter head and envelope, and THEN I'm still going to open it and find..yes, it's a QUERY!!!

Query letters go in a pile in the order received. Sending it via registered mail only means you are an nitwit. I don't care what anyone else says, it's proof positive you're an nitwit if you believe them, and double proof if you do it.

17 comments:

Catja (green_knight) said...

Any publicity is better than no publicity? Hands up, who else thinks that using a ploy designed to annoy an agent is not the best possible career move?

G. Jules Reynolds said...

I suspect that there's no piece of agent-seeking advice so obnoxious that someone, somewhere, hasn't recommended it as the One True Secret Way In. Kind of like the folk cures people have for getting rid of hiccups, but less likely to keep Killer Yap entertained.

Anonymous said...

Noah Lukeman, despite writing a book on how to successfully query agents, does not accept unsolicited query letters.

When he rejects people, he tries to push his $24.95 e-book on how to right a successful query letter.

No thanks.

David Isaak said...

Sending anything in a fashion that requires an agent to sign for it is nutso.

If all you're worried about is knowing that your letter/partial/800-page manuscript really arrived at the agent's office, use USPS Delivery Confirmation. Cheap, easy, and allows you to be assured it was delivered--but requires no action on the part of the recipient at all.

Jillian said...

Actually, Miss Snark, you don't have to *personally* sign for a registered letter -- someone else in your office can do it.

I know this because:

1. My dad was a postal worker for almost 30 years. Go on. Ask me anything about the United States Postal Service.

2. I sent my "termination letter" to my agent via registered mail, as advised by my lawyer. I received the signed form several days later; it was signed by her assistant.

I agree that sending queries or requested material via registered mail is -- well, stupid. But just wanted to clear up the "who can sign the form" thingie for you.

Min said...

I am having a nightmare right at this very moment about the postal service.

When I took my package down to mail it to an agent, I told the postal clerk that I wanted to be able to check whether the package arrived, but I didn't want the recipient to have to sign for it. She said I needed certified mail for that function.

A few days later, I checked the status online and learned that a notice was left, but the package was not delivered.

Why would they leave a notice when I didn't want a signature? Because certified mail DOES require a signature!

As if this isn't hard enough already. Now the postal service is making me look like a nitwit!

Miss Snark said...

Jillian, you missed the key piece of info here: "at the post office". I'll be more than happy next time I'm there to take a picture of the sign that says "we only release certified and registered mail to the recipients" folled by a list of acceptable IDs. I swear it's easier to get into Cuba than get a letter at the PO some days.

Your agent most likely received the letter in his/her office.

Brady Westwater said...

Yes, at the office - they don't care who signs it. But at the post office - Torquemada could take lessons from those clerks.

Carter said...

How would I handle such a nitwit if I were an agent? Hmmm...

1.) Call him/her immediately, rave about his/her work.

2.) Tell him/her to overnight 7 bound copies of full manuscript to an address in Jersey City that has been pre-determined to be an empty lot.

3.) Upon receipt of irate letter/phone call: "Who are you? Why are you bothering me? Go away!"

4.) Laugh hysterically and share the story (with appropriate name) with all available colleagues.

Well, maybe not, but I gotta have my dreams.

Jillian said...

Ah, you're right of course, Miss Snark. I missed that bit of information. And yes, you're talking about an NYC post office, which isn't quite the same as dealing with Postmaster McFiddleton who's been at his post for 32 years and knows everyone by name in Upper Sphinxville.

I don't know where my agent was when the certified letter arrived. All I know is that she called me up, chewed me out, and hung up on me after she received it. And now you know why I don't find you the least bit scary or unsavory. I think I've already dealt with the worst there is.

Miss Snark said...

Wait, she called you up and yelled at you, then hung up when you terminated with her?

What an excellent stratetgy. I think I'll add it to my Snark Handbook of Strategy and Snakeoil.

Sheesh.

PS Postmaster McFiddleton is pretty hot for a guy who goes..shall we say...general delivery!

Jillian said...

Yes, she really did. I had sent her two emails concerning my desire to terminate (again, per the advice of my lawyer), and when I didn't hear back from her on either count, I sent her the certified "bye bye" letter. Not only did she yell at me, but she called me names, tried to make me feel guilty, talked over me when I tried to say something (which was kind of hard because my jaw was already dangling a mere centimeter from the floor), and then promptly hung up on me. It was the last I heard from her. Which is not a bad thing.

She hadn't received the emails because she was in the midst of moving to a new office. Had she let me know that, I would have timed the emails differently. But she had a long history of never returning my calls or emails, or communicating much about anything, ever. Never sold my book, either.

Told some lies, too. Even charged me over $100 for office fees.

You may be "snarky" but you are not any of the things that my ex-agent was, surely.

I've still got some postal connections. I bet I could get McFiddleton's number for you. You'll have to leave Killer Yapp at home, though. There's a certain anti-dog thing going on in the USPS...

Miss Snark said...

"hadn't received your email cause she was moving offices"....huh?? Email comes on a remote server! You can get it if you don't HAVE an office. What a load of crap.

Not that Miss Snark hasn't lost an email or two cause her computer has been canoodling with the crapometer in the barn...but still.

And $100 for "office fees"...double crap.

You know you're well rid of that one, and I AGREE!.

KillerYapp said...

anti dog indeed.
Next thing you know they'll tell us we can't go into gin joints.

Bernita said...

You can see, New People, why we love Miss Snark.

Jillian said...

Like any bad relationship, I was terrified, for a while, of cutting the ties, out of a simple fear of being "alone." Now that I am agentless-and-searching, I am happier than I was agented-and-frustrated.

And your supportive reaction, Miss Snark, serves to renew my hope in agent-kind. That, and confirmation that I wasn't the jerk in this relationship.

I can't help Killer Yapp's angst, though. My dad was bitten ten times during his mail carrying career, and most of the time it was the small and -- ur -- yippy-type dogs. Once, he kicked an attacking dog's teeth out. Fortunately the owner took his part, and affably served his pet pureed food from that point.

Miss Snark said...

KY is a vegetarian. Also, he may look fey in his pink tam but he is a metrosexual and thus all biting is received for the fairer sex.