Return of the Manuscript, like the Mohican, is OLD news

When I get a request for a full manuscript, my normal routine is to send it boxed and priority mail with postage and label for return in the same box (not registered, not signature required).

I realize there's a problem for returns because of the Post Office's rules that packages over 1 pound must be hand-delivered. Last full ms. I got back surprised me by coming back by UPS. Would it mark me as a hopeless amateur if I asked if they preferred SASE by UPS or USPS when I get the request?

So you're the one.
Miss Snark has been looking for you.

This is a bad idea in so many ways that just thinking about it makes me emit noises only heard by dogs.

First, you can send your ms in a box if you want but it's more expensive. This is paper you're sending; it's not going to break. Put it in a sturdy envelope. Fold over the end to make a tight package. Apply shipping tape. Send.

For the return, using the same box is foolhardy. Chances are I ripped it to shreds opening it. And of course, I have to keep track of it while your ms is in the stack, passed around to be read, or generally NOT sitting in the box.

And of course I'm not going to the post office to stand in line to send it back to you.

Here's a novel idea: don't have the ms returned. Include a #10 SASE for my letter to you, and solve the problem.

Returning mss is a holdover from pre-copy machine days. If you have to laboriously type each page by hand, sure you want it back. Now it's less expensive to print a new copy then send it back.

Now, to quote Grandmother Snark when accosted by hardhat admirers on the streets of New York "wise up sonny".


Audiate said...

Here's a novel idea: don't have the ms returned. Include a #10 SASE for my letter to you, and solve the problem.
Miss Snark, I'm happy to say that this is what I've been doing, but I do have a question on this.
I have heard that The Very Lucky will receive comments no their manuscript, even if it's rejected (OK, not THAT lucky!). Do editors ever scribble their notes right on the ms? And therefore... am I risking NOT getting their precious (illegible) words of wisdom by choosing to not having the ms returned? Or does this so seldom happen that it doesn't matter?

Bonnie S. Calhoun said...

If you really want the manuscript returned, there are double boxes that you can buy(one fits into the other)but I think they're about $5 a pair.

In the cover letter I sent with my ms, I instructed the editor that the ms was disposable and to recycle it when she was done. I included a SASE for her reply. Besides I didn't want to annoy them by making someone go to the post office to return it!

If I remember correctly, several months ago Miss Snark told us that after the ms was passed around in the office, it wasn't fit to send out again anyhow. So why want it back?

If they want a copy of your ms, every office has a copy machine!

Dave Kuzminski said...

Here's another idea. Having received back some manuscript submissions in the past with the envelope torn almost to the point of futility, one so soaked that they wouldn't deliver it, and another with mildew on it, I decided to improve the chances of it remaining together and at least dry. I used a gallon size ziplock bag. It works better than paper clips for keeping the pages together, it keeps all the pages dry, and usually protects them against rips and tears. You'll need steel plating to protect against anything that a ziplock bag can't defend.

Oh, if your manuscript is too large for one, use two. That way none of the pages get torn trying to get the paper in or out.

Bernita said...

Y'mean hardhatters are still allowed to wolf whistle??

Dee said...

I like the idea of the #10 SASE....but I have the same question as audieate...I'm assuming they'd write their comments on a letter (hopefully not a FORM letter, right?).

Remodeling Repartee said...


Not allowed, but some still do. Even some of the very few women out there nowadays participate; targeting both cute dudes as well as dudettes.

Remodeling Repartee said...


I believe my last comment could be construed as calling Grandmother Snark a "dudette."

Miss Snark, I promise to lash my own California derriere twenty times if I'm not banished from posting after such a transgression.

Miss Snark said...

Actually Grandmother Snark is quite sanguine about what others call her...as long as it's not "Mr. Snark".