2.06.2006

Those Pesky Postage Questions

I've searching for an agent since well before I found out about the postal rate increase. I've got several SASEs out still there with . . . gasp . . . insufficient postage. I'm finding conflicting information online about whether these letters would be delivered postage due, or returned back to the agent/sender. You don't have any in your slush pile, do you? What do you do with them?


Of course I don't have any in my slush pile. I answer query letters within about five days of receipt, and that's way up from my normal 24 hour turn around time.

Miss Snark harumphs mightily at the idea that a standard query letter has been out for more than a month, but not everyone is as brutally efficient as Killer Yapp the Query Letter Organizer.

For letters that are dated before 1/8 (ie when the postage went up) I put on the 2 cent stamp. Letters after that are cast to the munificence of the post office. Mostly I think the PO will process the mail but this is just a reminder to put your OWN return address on the envelope in both the TO and FROM positions.

28 comments:

Elektra said...

Remind me to query Miss Snark next--I just got an answer back from September. One line in the (form) letter is "the agency handles so many letter of query and, wishing to provide a timely response that any author needs and deserves, we have had to depart from the practice of respndin personally to letter of query".

McKoala said...

Nice to see an agent with such an awesome command of the language

Elektra said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Elektra said...

The typos are mine--should be "letters of query" and "responding". That's what you get for typing while looking at a Dear Author letter at the same time.

December Quinn said...

Is the ohrrible syntax yours, too? Somehow I doubt it.

Blah. What a stupid letter.

December Quinn said...

Now I made a stupid typo. Is the letter a voodoo typo curse? We read it and it makes our fingers clumsy and inaccurate?

Jodi Davis said...

It isn't advisable to put the same return address as your mailing address. Especially in the case of inadequate postage, this can be construed as mail fraud. ESPECIALLY on partial/full manuscript return packages.

Yeah, the post office doesn't usually notice, but it can become a problem for you.

KaguraShinra said...

I mailed a query just before the increase and didn't even know anything about the increase until a while later. However, I recived my reply. The agent had placed a 2 cent stamp on it. I guess, it really just depents on who the agent is.

Anonymous said...

I asked this in another comments trail, but got a lot of different answers. Miss Snark, would you mind giving your opinion?
I sent a requested full a few days ago, but forgot to write "requested materials" on the envelope. Is it OK to email the agent to say the ms is on its way, or is that being too bothersome?

Elektra said...

The letter goes on to say "Please be assured, however, that we continue to consider each query individually, including yours."

sex scenes at starbucks said...

I had to find out why there were ten comments about the two cent stamp increase, and I wasn't disapponted.

The operative phrase, taken out of context because it wouldn't be fun if it weren't, is "response that any author deserves." I've yet to read an author that deserves a form letter, have you?

Ok, we play this game on another site where you give a definition for your verification word, and this one is too precious to pass up:

"hokope": hokey pokey with the Pope.

Anonymous said...

Excuse me, Jodi Davis, but exactly what addresses ought you to use?

The advice to use your own address as sender and recipient is pretty universal. What should you do? Send it back to the agent? What would be the point of that, other than to annoy the agent?

I sincerely can't imagine the Post Office pursuing this as mail fraud--especially not when there's just been a recent rate increase. BUt if you know of cases, and have ideas for what addresses to use instead, please explain.

Jennette said...

One of the agencies I'm querying specifically says in their guidelines to put their address as the return. But lacking any instruction to do otherwise, I'm planning to put mine as the return for the rest.

Sarah said...

Oh, now I am worried I've been doing the wrong thing. I just address my SASE to me and leave the return address blank. Generally the magazine (this is short stories, not queries) just stamps it with their address stamp in the empty spot and sends it back to me. Should I be putting myself and myself?

Nora McCrea said...

I think maybe Miss Snark meant to put your own address in the sender corner when sending to the agent and in the recipient space on the SASE. In otherwords, always have your own address on all envelopes in the appropriate place.

randy said...

Letter envelopes are one thing, but I learned when sending priority packages (for contest entries or partials/fulls that you want returned) you can't necessarily assume the postage is the same coming and going. Don't know why. (Unless I've just got some lame postal workers, but I've been told this on two different occasions.) So I decided it was a good rule of thumb to put the return address of where the mail is truly coming from. Maybe that's been a mistake.

Megan the Librarian said...

A tip for avoiding the perils of postage rate increases: buy Breast Cancer stamps. They cost a little more, but the money goes to breast cancer research. They aren't marked with an amount; they just say "First Class", so even if the rate goes up, they're still good.

Crisi said...

Megan - Intersting note about the breast cancer stamps, never knew that.

As for SASE addresses. As someone working as a paper sorter at a national literary contest, I hate it when people put their own address. I'm required to put our address on there, and have to stamp around the current one if needed. We are located at a university, and the mail system there won't let it out without our address and all the digits of our zip-code.

Of course I have nothing to do with how the manuscript places, but towards then end, I might start hiding the ones that piss me off... (just kidding. Mostly.)

Crisi said...

Oh, and another thing to make my life easier. Manuscript boxes are heavy and I have to carry everything. Stop sending them!!!!! ^_^ Or those envelopes that contain recycled something as padding. They get my clothes dirty when I try to open them.

Poloman9 said...

I've found that if there's a problem with the address on the return line, the post office will usually just send it on anyway. At worst you'll get a little COD ticket.

Anonymous said...

I hope you don't mind that I make a comment here. I am a Canadian agent, but I get a lot of enquiries from US writers. And many of them enclose stamped addressed envelopes for my reply. Except that US stamps are valueless in Canada. It's a small thing, but it's annoying!

Carmen said...

Anonymous Canadian -- it's the thought that counts, right? :)

David Baker said...

In the early 80s I received the SASE from a query I'd sent out for my second novel. By that time I'd moved four times, the postage scale had changed twice and the book in question was in its third printing. For kicks, I sent the agent a signed copy and he offered to represent me! The upshot was that my actual agent at the time, Doloros (incidentally, Doloros is Spanish for 'pain'...coincidence Ms. Snark?) grew livid after a misunderstanding at a cocktail party and nearly fired me for infidelity. I bought her roses had her over for coq au vin and a bottle of Vouvray to make up. I suppose the moral is that your SASE may very well find you, but then it also may not.

Anonymous said...

Has Miss Snark been abducted by aliens or something?

Anonymous said...

I was told that, post-9/11, putting the same address in both the sender and recipient areas would get your letter or package bumped for inspection. Does anyone know if that's accurate?

Elektra said...

I shouldn't think so...who would be sending anthrax to themselves?

Sal said...

Much of this (all of this?) was covered a while back. Check out both the original post and comments.

Miss Snark does not want her address in the return-address spot of the SASE. If there's a problem with your address, she doesn't want to deal with it.

If you don't know one way or another how your SASE-requiring recipient wants the SASE return address space filled, leave the return-address space blank. If your recipient wants to stamp their own return address there, the blank space is waiting. If Miss Snark would rather leave it blank, well, Bob's your uncle.

The post-911 fear of matching return- and to- addresses was not a concern for the post office but a concern for people in the recipients' mail rooms trying to identify suspect mail. If it's your mail, you'll know why the "to" and "from" match.

[Dear Blogger, I would dearly love to know how word verification works. When those upsy doozy fake words get too long, I start mistyping. abbpzhey? wot's that?]

Jodi Davis said...

Clarification:

When sending an SASE - you should put the return address of who is returning it. Putting the same address in the return AND the primary addressing area - is technically against postal/federal regulations. It used to be universal advice - but it's used by people to get out of paying postage and after 9/11 was scrutinized even more closely. So it's not universal advice that the postal service condines NOR accepts if they catch it.

FYI - Mileage May Vary