Did Ebay run out of Clues?

I swear, anyone this low on clues needs to be on auto-reorder:

Today, my slush pile coughs up a true cluefree querier who managed to send his query letter and pages postage due. And not cause he missed it by half an ounce. He stuck ONE first class stamp on an envelope with five pages and an SASE. THAT is clue free.

When you start the query process you don't have to weigh every single envelope but you should weigh ONE to get an idea. And if you don't have a postage scale, your local supermarket does. They keep it in the deli department. The post office will even tell you the amount of postage to put on various weights via their website.

As for clues, well, I keep mine in a jar by the door just to make sure I never leave home without one.


Elektra said...


Admission? I've been doing this. Didn't know it came postage due.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

ebay out of clues! Heaven forbid! ebay.co.uk returns about 11,000 search results for "clues." US ebay returns over 20,000 results for "clues."

Are they the right sort of clues? Umm, well .... I haven't a clue.

pjd said...

So this means that postage-due queries actually MAKE IT to your slush pile and aren't refused at the door? Woo hoo! Now I can save some money on postage.

Berry said...

Postage due? You refused it, I assume?

Chiffonista said...

Per the USPS web site, "One ounce is approximately equal to four sheets of paper plus a standard envelope."

Postage for 1 oz = 39 cents
Postage for 2 oz = 63 cents

I can't remember if I ever stuck one stamp on five pages plus SASE. I don't think so, but... hrm. I'll have to watch out for that one.

Writerious said...

Maybe the writer needs a better postal scale. I know the one I have at home is very iffy when it gets to that little line between 1 and 2 ounces -- "Hrm, is that one ounce, or two? Um... erm... jeez, better just take it to the post office and be sure!"

kis said...

I just go to the post office and get them to weigh it and put on proper postage right there. Course, I'm from a zit-sized town in Canada, and we don't tend to have long line-ups at the counter.

Bothering staff at a busy, big-city post office over something so trivial might cause them to, well, go postal on you.


Get it? Go postal?
Oh, never mind.

Guh said...

Oh, dammit. I'm never gonna get this right.

M. G. Tarquini said...

Thing is, if you're mailing it all in a #10 envelope, you can probably get away with it, but it you're mailing it flat in a 9 by 12, so Miss Snark doesn't have to unfold everything and put her Coney Island coffee mug on one corner and her jar of KY Doggie Delectibles on the other to keep it open, the post office is likely to get snippy.

A snippy postal carrier is not a good way for Miss Snark to start her day.

Making Miss Snark struggle to keep your writing open on her desk is not a good way for the aspiring author to start his career.

Cudd said...

When in doubt, add an extra stamp?

Bernita said...

Size matters.

Heather said...

I sent eight queries out about two weeks ago from here in Canada to New York agents. All were bearing what I thought were sufficient stamps. All returned to me.

While this does mean that at least the agents didn't get my work 'postage due', it has given my friends and family ample fodder to joke about my work being so bad that the post office rejected it. Urgh. :)

SandyO said...

When in doubt, add a stamp or two.

Anonymous said...

This is why email queries are the way to go. No worries about extra costs.

I can't figure out why any agent would want to spend time dealing with all that heavy paper when it's so much easier to keep everything organized in a nice, clean, and orderly electronic inbox.

For those who query by email but don't follow directions, simply click on DELETE.

For those whose work you decide to pass on, simply click on the signature block with previously pasted standard rejection letter.

For those queries that intrigue you enough to want to see more, simply click on the signature block with previously pasted standard "you've made it to the next round" letter with detailed instructions on how to submit your full proposal.

They call it e-mail because it's e-z.

Jim Winter said...

I work two blocks from a post office (The same post office George Clooney's dad used to use when he was Channel 5's anchor. Uh-oh. Should I not have mentioned that?) Amazing, but yes, they will in fact weigh your package for you.

OK, I'm a lazy bastard who uses that as an excuse to ditch work and go for a walk.

Anonymous said...

Well, it got your attention, didn't it?

Feta said...

Ebay ran out of clues? Maybe people should try going to the nearest Costco - buy your clues in bulk!

Anonymous said...

Well, it got your attention, didn't it?

So does a swift boot to the head, but that's no way to start a business relationship either.

2readornot said...

Yep, size makes a big difference! I've mailed many things with six sheets of paper in #10 envelopes and only a first class stamp...nothing's ever come back...but the big manila envelopes? Well, I have to be a bit more careful there.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it got attention. There is, however, a difference between 'good' attention and 'bad' attention. I'm betting this one falls in the second category.

Verification word was "exvasm". Sounds vaguely suggestive to me.

Saundra Mitchell said...

Kicking Killer Yapp* would get Miss Snark's attention, too, but I wouldn't recommend it.

*No Tam-bedecked pooches were harmed in the making of this analogy.

Steorling said...

I did this once with a resume packet. The secretary sent me a "billing" for the postage. EEEK! Needless to say, it's never happened again. I compulsively weigh envelopes now...Mr. Monk gone postal, that's me. ; )

kis said...


That would just burn my butt, to have eight queries returned. I recently sent eight out (from Canada as well) and it cost me nearly twenty bucks. What a waste! And then having to wait ANOTHER week or two to find out from the agents themselves just how bad you stink.

And after all the trouble you probably went to getting US stamps for your SASEs. (At least for me--no credit card, no online orders from USPS.)

I tell ya, the logistics for Canadians are daunting. E-queries are WAY easier, plus you can be rejected that same afternoon. Gotta love that.

Oops, is my bitterness showing again? ;)

Anonymous said...

Who doesn't have a precision scale? After all, how else can you be sure you are not getting ripped off when you buy your weed?

MommyWithAttitude said...

I don't have a scale, and I'm always so paranoid that I won't have enough postage that I probably pay twice as much as necessary.

Yes, I guess I'm a nitwit.

More often than not I just go to the post office and have them do it.

rucevf said...

Two disadvantages I see to email:

- Printouts are easier on the eyes. Screen type I think is still at a resolution of around 72 dpi; a manuscript will be at around 600 dpi. Huge difference in readability, even if you don't account for glare--especially for someone who reads a lot in a day.

- Email ups the number of submissions--but not the quality. Generally, someone together enough to get a snail mail query out the door--and who doesn't decide who to query based on how easy querying is, but based on researching the agents themselves--is someone more likely to be together enough to write a strong manuscript. It's a way of filtering for quality.

Anonymous said...

Kis and Heather--

I, too, am Canadian. The only US stamps I could find up here were from a vintage stamp shop in Richmond Hill, ON. They were oversized, hot pink Elvis Presley stamps.

The agent who eventually took me on accepted e-queries.


Jen said...

Definitely when in doubt, add an extra stamp (or two). Or do like I did (not on purpose, really) and get a friend who works in the post office. If I really don't know, I call her. :)

I'm honestly surprised it was delivered. Any time I don't put sufficient postage on something, it's returned to me in record time.

Anonymous said...

Bottom line for would-be writers: it's just one lousy stamp more to look professional.

Is not one's career as a writer worth a freakin' 26 cents???

I waste more than that on soft drinks and lotto tickets.

Don't penny-wise yourself out of a sale. Tack on an extra stamp.

What a maroon.

Heather said...

Kis, my butt was indeed burning. (Sorry for the TMI. :) I have US stamps from my husband's trip to the States last year so that part isn't so scary, but when they run out, I'll have to brave the USPS site, and that place scares me!

I'm still waiting to be told how badly I stink by seven of those eight agents. The first was an unsigned form letter, which definitely gave me the sense the agent had detected an aroma. :)

But hey, to tie everything together, at least I knew to send the first five pages. :)

Anonymous said...

kis baby,
"I tell ya, the logistics for Canadians are daunting..."

No they ain't. I'd imagine it's worse for those of us from places like the Caribbean, Australia and Rabbitania; we really have to jump through hoops to get those queries out.

After months of suffering through US postage increases and long waits, I tried the e-query. I got my agent that way - finally - and it came together so fast I'm still reeling.

kis said...

Rabbitania, huh? Yes, I suppose there are worse places than Zit-on-the-ass BC when it comes to getting US stamps. You can always order them off the net, but I think you need both a paypal account and a credit card. My old man--that's husband for those of you who don't speak hoser--whose computer I use for internet purposes is too paranoid for that. (He's not shuffling around with kleenex boxes on his feet muttering about germs yet, but give him five years and we'll see.)

I actually got his ex to get me stamps last year--she lives in California. But when postage went up just as I was about to send everything off, I was too chicken to ask her for more, and got my eighteen-year-old stepson to pick them up for me instead. Well, if you know anything about the average teenager...let's just say it was only three weeks ago that my snailmail queries went out.

Already got two rejects--both from Florida, oddly. I guess they're on the ball there or something. One was beautiful: a full sheet of bright yellow paper with profuse apologies printed in 16-point font. The other was the dreaded inch-wide strip in a font so small only eagles could see it.


jaywalke said...

'Exvasm' is either an outdoor or out-of-body orgasm.

Next week: ingasms and andgasms.

AstonWest said...

In some areas, they even have automated postal centers, where you can weigh the package yourself, and it will tell you how much postage you need.

Beauty is you can usually get to them after regular business hours (NO LINE)...

Chumplet said...

I had to do the same thing with the stamps. My dad was on a job in California and he sent me stamps just before postage went up, so I ended up putting two on each envelope just for good measure.

Then I emailed my brother in Buffalo, asking for a bunch of 3-cent stamps. I got them three months later.

The USPS site isn't that scary, and I didn't have to use Pay Pal, just the credit card. Got a whole buncha stamps!

E-queries are great, but many of them regard a non-response as a rejection. How do you know whether you've been rejected, or your query just got swallowed by the Spam-O-Matic Spam Chewer?

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little said...

Wait wait wait.

Please raise your hand if you have ever asked the supermarket deli worker to weigh your submission for you.

That's freakin' genius.

I wouldn't have dared ask. I've worked in food service and took the food handling test in two different States of the Union. I'd have thought they'd refuse to even let you hand them something from the wrong side of the sneeze guard, much less place it, not knowing where it's been, on the same surface that receives the next shopper's quarter pound of sliced pastrami (albeit with a leaf of waxed paper in between meat and scale).

Or is it just me?

Of course, these days most US Post Offices have that lovely automatic postage machine with the touch screen so that you can do practically anything you need without standing in line. Weighing an envelope for first class postage is easy.

Failing that, I've got the teensy postage scale I bought back when first class was $.29, and the diet scale we got for about $10 at Bed Bath & Beyond when hubby was on Weight Watchers. Both of them do ounces real good.

("gfwscri". Because enquiring minds want to know.)