1.10.2006

Im so f/ing sick of this SASE thing.. this is the LAST comment

...on JA Konrath's site, I found:

5. Don‚t include a SASE. Everyone in NY requests that you send a self addressed stamped envelope for a reply. In fairness to the publishing biz, they get a ton of unsolicited manuscripts every day, and couldn‚t afford to send rejection letters to everyone out of their own pocket. Keep in mind that SASEs are for rejections. In fact, it makes it even easier for them to reject you. If they want your work, they‚ll gladly spring for the stamp, or call on the phone. Do you think Tom Clancy sends SASEs?
(In SIX THING TO AVOID IN A QUERY on the "TIPS 2" page http://www.joekonrath.com/ )

I agree that Tom Clancy doesn't send SASEs. He also doesn't send query letters anymore.


There's always someone who just can't seem to do what is asked. Send an SASE, include the word count, spell things correctly...all those little things that seem so easy.

Truth is, when I look at my slush pile, well heck, I'm looking at it right now: 27 letters. It's 10:18pm. I'd like to move that query stack OFF my desk ASAP. Not including an SASE makes it easy, yay. Toss. I don't even read em anymore. I used to. Not anymore.

I used to spring for an envelope and postage too, thinking people just forgot. Then some nitwit posted a comment here saying he just didn't send them, figuring if we wanted his work, we'd get back to him. So, yanno what, f you buddy, I stopped giving everyone the benefit of the doubt.

My website is real clear. This is what I ask for. If you think SASEs are for rejections, you're right 98% of the time. And for you 100% of the time, cause now I just throw it away.

And yes, there will be some nitwit who says "I don't send SASE's and I have an agent, and I got this that and the other". One example is an exception. Advising everyone to do it is stupid.

And would someone please tell me what the HELL is so hard about putting an SASE in a query? It costs too much? This is a damn business; this is YOUR side of the expense sheet. Mine comes when I xerox your stuff a zillion times, and pray I sell it and get paid. Try not to moan about the cost of an SASE to me, when sending ONE manuscript costs me $10.00 a pop.

Advice is cheap. Try not to shortchange yourself by being penny wise and pound foolish.

29 comments:

Peter L. Winkler said...

Dear Miss Snark:

"And would someone please tell me what the HELL is so hard about putting an SASE in a query?"

It's not hard, but it is totally unnecessary, illogical and wasteful.

Why can't you get that through your head?

I don't need any more form rejections. They don't provide any useful feedback.

If an agent or editor likes my query and wants more, they certainly aren't going to use the SASE to ask for more.

Have you ever used an SASE to request a proposal or anything else?

You'd pick up the hpone.

So if I should ever query you from some market listing and fail to observe this totally silly technicality and you summarily disapose of my letter, I won't give a good goddamn.

This is a stupid policy.

Justin R. Buchbinder said...

Amen!

I love J.A's tips, but I think I chose to overlook this one because it so clearly blew up what you advised.

If it's expected, do it. That's completely agreeable.

JA Konrath said...

I see. So when you find a manuscript you love, you don't call the writer, or shoot her an email. You write a letter, print it up, and send her the good news in that SASE she included. No SASE and forget it, she can find other representation.

Is that accurate?

I understand why agents request SASEs. If I became an agent, I would too. The amount of slush you receive is overwhelming. I've seen it firsthand.

But SASEs, Miss Snark, are used for rejections. You know that.

If a writer doesn't need that piece of paper saying the agent passes, why bother with it? You can throw the manuscript away, save some time otherwise spent stuffing a form letter and dropping it in the mailbox, and the writer is spared the sting of the rejection letter.

I've gotten my share of rejections, courtesy of SASEs. During my agent quest, I dreaded opening the mailbox, fearing I'd see one of my envelopes. The psychological impact they had wracked serious nerves. They never contained good news.

So I tried a submission without SASEs, and immediately (as in a few days later, not six weeks or eight months) had 12 agents interested.

Since it would be rather hypocritcal of me to preach something other than what I practice, I advise writers not to use a SASE.

I'm curious---when you submit books to houses on behalf of your authors, if you include a SASE? And if the editor buys the book, do they reply using that same SASE? No SASE, no book deal?

You New Yorkers are tough.

---The Nitwit

LJCohen said...

This little snarkling hangs her head in shame. I got a request for a partial and in my eagerness to get it out before the post office closed for the New Year's holiday, I forgot to send the SASE the agent requested. Aargh. As soon as I realized my mistake, I emailed her to apologize and sent the SASE in a separate mailing.

Hoping I didn't come across as a total idiot.

ljcohen

Anonymous said...

Cynthia writes:

I'm with you, Miss Snark. Why MUST people think they are the one golden exception, that the rules are meant for everyone but them?

And why is the concept of a SASE -- or following any of the guidelines on a website -- so dang hard to do? An agent's guidelines are there for a purpose, one we writers might not understand, but a purpose nonetheless.

Ethan Ellenberg requests self-adhesive SASEs. Until I read that, I'd never thought of all the envelope licking an agent (or her lowly intern) had to do ... Next box of envelopes I get will be the self-adhesive kind, and you can bet I haven't queried Mr. Ellenberg until I have just what he asks for.

In this business, when so many things out of a writer's control can shoot you down, why on earth do something nit-witty that's IN your power?!

Anonymous said...

Miss Snark, how would people in a country different from the agent send the SASE? Do we buy US stamps from somewhere or send international postage coupons or ...?

Elektra said...

Okay, forget business etiquette. SASE's even when used for a form rejection, have a use to the author. Can any of the people against SASE's tell me how, without any sort of reply other than a phone call saying, "Wow! I'll give you my first-born not to sign with anyone else!", you can know that the query even reached the agent's hands?
Speaking of which, Miss Snark, I sent out five queries about two and a half months ago, and have only recieved replies from two agents (and yes, I triple-checked for SASE's). They're pretty medium-sized agencies, two of which are located well outside of NY (one in the Midwest), so I don't think they're being so inundated with queries that all of thei turn around times should be this slow.
Is there any reason this might have happened, outside of the realm of your-query-is-just-that-bad?

Anonymous said...

Besides, I got GOOD news from my agent in a SASE.

What's the big deal about sending them?

Some people just like to be contrary hotheads.

Kelsey said...

Maybe it's different for children's book writers... All I know is that many of my SASE have been returned to me with a written request to see the first three chapters or what have you. And you never know if your rejected three chapters might have a comment or two on them. So I ALWAYS send a self-adhesive SASE plenty big enough for whatever I've sent.

Diana Peterfreund said...

JA, why do you think it was your lack of SASE that got you the interest? That's the part that doesn't follow to me. Even if you get an agent who doesn't immediately toss the manuscript upon finding no means for reply, you aren't more likely to get a yeas for not sending SASEs.

And yes, come to think of it, I have gotten SEVERAL requests in my SASEs. I have also gotten rejections in their envelopes, even after I sent SASEs. And I have also gotten rejections over the phone and offers over email. The medium is not the point.

Furthermore, I wold send SASEs to get rejections just so I have the documentation on hand -- for tax records, for personal career history records, for whatever it takes.

Jenna Black said...

Contrary to what other commenters have said, in my pre-pubbed days I frequently got requests for partial and full manuscripts back in those SASE's I sent out with query letters. They aren't just for rejections. It all depends if that query letter merits a rejection or a request. So why make it easy for the agent/editor to reject you out of hand without reading the query??

Anonymous said...

ja konrath said: If a writer doesn't need that piece of paper saying the agent passes, why bother with it?
Because, ghod knows, it's all about the writer's convenience and what the writer wants.

But that aside, this writer does want to know if an agent passes, and wants to know in a manner more definite than the lack of a phone call. The "sting of a rejection letter" is part of the business, and if you can't deal with it, good grief, stop taking it so personally. And, too, I get acceptances in my SASEs often enough that I don't see every SASE as a sign of failure; it's just a response.

Melanie Lynne Hauser said...

I, too, have gotten requests in that "dreaded" SASE. Not to mention the occasional release that a couple of agencies request that you sign before they read a partial.

What I believe Miss Snark is saying - and it's something my agent tells me all the time - is that agents (and editors) are not looking for reasons to love your manuscript. They're looking for reasons to reject it, because they're simply so overwhelmed with material. Not including a SASE in a query to Miss Snark is simply giving her that reason. Other agents might have other criteria; this one is clearly hers. So ignore it at your own peril.

Saundra Mitchell said...

When I was still in the query phase, my agent tried to send an e-mail requesting chapters and the e-mail bounced. Guess how I found out she wanted the chapters? She printed the e-mail she wrote and stuffed it in my SASE.

Skeptics will note that I started that anecdote with "My agent." SASEs are not just for bad news.

Anonymous said...

Not send an SASE? Someone has rocks in their head. I've never heard anything so absurd.

I've been at this a long, long time, and I'm a published author. I always include an SASE, and I've received lots more that form rejections in those envelopes. I've received requests for partials and complete manuscripts. And personal rejections, typed letters with detailed explanations as to why the rejection was given, are like gold!

Only an idiot who doesn't give a damn about his or her writing will neglect to follow this essential protocol.

I.J.Parker said...

It seems to me (and thank God I don't have to worry about this any longer -- lots of other stuff, but not queries and SASEs)that you might want a reply of some sort, just to keep a record of who has seen the query/ms. Otherwise your work disappears into the maelstrom of lost efforts without a sound or a ripple and a year later you may find yourself wasting your time with the same agents.

Bernita said...

Oh God, this gets arcane.
Why double think the specs until you're in danger of flying up your own behind?
If they ask for an SASE, send one.

Anonymous said...

My manuscript was requested by three agents via the SASEs I included with the queries sent (still waiting to hear back from these agents). In addition, in the past, other agents have provided amazing feedback to my sample chapters using the SASEs I included. Anyone who doesn't include an SASE is only making the process harder for themselves. It's sad, but a lot of writers are their own worst enemies.

waylander said...

US stamps can be bought from anywhere in the world from the USPS website

Anonymous said...

I wonder if those writers who advocate unprofessionalism in the early stages of the writer/agent relationship would be as happy to see it extended to other aspects of that relationship.

Will the writer who wants the agent to think "well they totally ignored my guidelines but their writing's brilliant so who cares" agree that if the agent decided to think "well I said I'd only take 15% but my agenting's so brilliant that taking less than 25% is a stupid policy", that too is okay?

Anonymous said...

Jeez-luu-eez, it's ONLY a freakin' stamp, and these days it costs a lot less than a cup of coffee. Be a professional and put the dang thing in.

I edit as well as write and take that SASE as a simple Professional Courtesy Thing. The writer is telling me he or she understands that I'm overworked, my eyes hurt, I have caffeine jitters, and would really rather be in a hot tub with the date of my dreams. I don't need the extra workload. It takes time to assemble a stamp, envelope, print address of writer, and put in the letter of acceptance or rejection.

They're not ALL rejections--I always send a snail-mail acceptance as a Professional Courtesy Thing to the writer. Then they have something solid to show their shocked family.

J.A.K. is way off the mark telling shiny-eyed neos to skip that courtesy. That or he's just trying to weed out competition. Oh, he got a bull's-eye in the mystery market, and he's clever, but he blew it there.

No, Clancy doesn't include a SASE, how amusing to think he might. On the other hand he makes a chunk of change for a lot of people so they're gonna have his number on their speed dial and remember his dog's birthday. The rest of us have to go through the hoops like normal people.

I've been at this for 15 years, have over 20 books in print, and yeah-sure-you-betcha when I send in a submission I still put in a SASE.

Anonymous said...

Once, after receiving a form rejection in my own SASE, I went on a drinking binge during which time a well-known and respected agent came to me in a hallucination and said, "Send me a telegram with the words, 'Mighty, mighty bo-bighty, banana fana fo-fighty,' and I will represent you." After I sobered up, seven or eight months later, I did as I'd been instructed, and while I never heard from the agent of my hallucination, I did, in the meantime, receive offers of representation from two other agents. So, I highly recommend this method of getting an agent, no matter what an agency's guidelines may say.

Anonymous said...

My experience is in writing for animation, and when submitting proposals I have always included a SASE. Yes, I’ve received rejections -- but also feedback, encouragement, and advice.

Unless you are arrogant and self-destructive, it makes no sense to annoy the recipient, forego any feedback, or limit what you might learn.

R.J. Baker said...

Wow, you sure are snarky today...

Darlene Marshall said...

I went to the site mention, and this is what bothered me the most about Mr. Konrath's advice:

"Every store you visit, steal twenty SIGNED BY AUTHOR stickers. Different chains use different stickers. That way, you'll always have a supply when you get to a store that has run out."

Am I hopelessly old fashioned and naive, or does anyone else think it's unethical, not to mention illegal, to steal stickers from a bookstore? I purchased my "Signed by Author" stickers. They're cheap. And I sleep at night with a clear conscience.

As far as a SASE goes, those too are cheap, and I've often gotten back good remarks with the rejections. It also verifies for me that my manuscript was received, rather than lost in the ozone.

Anonymous said...

It's also important to note that not all rejections are equal.

How would you know if you've moved from form rejections (not good) to personalised rejections (a bit better) without said SASE?

Lynn Raye Harris said...

Oh dear. Anonymous banana writer, I think I peed myself.

Mac said...

JA Konrath said...
I see. So when you find a manuscript you love, you don't call the writer, or shoot her an email. You write a letter, print it up, and send her the good news in that SASE she included. No SASE and forget it, she can find other representation.

Joe - you missed the point. The statement was if you have a lot in the slush pile, the easiest way to cut it down is to eliminate the ones who didn't follow your instructions.

It won't get to the stage of being read. Simple as that.

Mac

Amra Pajalic said...

The arrogance of writers who think they are above SSAE astounds me. Obviously they have a over-inflated view of their own writing and think that an agent will trip over themselves to sign them.

Whenever I submit I always include a SSAE. Firstly, it's a professional courtesy and secondly, usually it's in the submission guidlines and if it's not I'm quite familiar with profession standards at this point that I know to include it anyway. The easiest way to show yourself as an amateur (or a over-inflated blow fly) is not to include it.

Those who think of it in terms of money wasted should seek a career in the corporate world. The whole structure of aspiring to be a novelist is based on the fact that you are working at a loss for a long time.