8.30.2006

Miss Snark is in the Slush

1. I'm honest to dog not sure why you spend $4.05 to send queries by priority mail. It doesn't get them read any faster. They (16 of them today) sat here for a week, just like the guy who sent his in a manila envelope and paid 87 cents. You're gonna query 100 agents? Here's the comparison.

$405 vs $87

Do the math.
Buy a clue.
Oh wait...you spent your money at the PO buying postage.

Even if you sent everything FOUR times cause you never heard back, you'd STILL spend less.


2. You don't "peak" my interest if you use the wrong words cause they sound alike.


3. three hole punch AND brads? Staples are bad enough. This is stupid. What the HELL is so hard to read about "sheets of paper, unbound". If you just can't stand the thought of unclasped paper, use a paperclip. NO staples. No binder clips. And naked is best.

4. Asking for sample pages is NOT 'expressing interest'. It's giving you a second shot at following the damn directions.

5. Telling me an editor requested your work is ok. Getting the name of the publisher where the editor works wrong makes me wonder what else you got wrong.

6. Dear Sir. Please respond via email. No.

7. Telling me what my web page says. Amazingly enough, I know what the submission guidelines are for my agency.

8. Italic font. Does anyone really need to hear that again? well...yes. Cause here it is.

9. As I told you on the phone. Oh good, this is an excellent reminder that you're an automatic no. NO PHONE QUERIES. I can't think of a single agent who takes phone queries. If you phone an agent, you'd damn well better ONLY ask factual questions: "is Miss Snark alive". "Is this the correct mailing address" (if it's from the website, assume it's correct. ONLY if the PO returns something as undeliverable should you call to ask this).

10. I've enclosed a #10 SASE. Pages are recyclable. No duh.

11. I invite you to represent my novel. Gee. Invitation only. Fun. How about you invite me to read it first.


Here's the thing about looking stupid in your query letter. It makes me doubt you're someone I want to work with. The query process is just the start, and it's the easiest part. Push gets right to shove when your book is on deadline for final draft, and you can't seem to get things spelled right. We're gonna be in this project together and I want to work with people who are good writers of course, but also people who won't make my life miserable cause they are disorganized, careless, arrogant, stupid, or all of the above. Do yourself a favor. Don't look like an idiot before I even have a chance to read your stuff.

85 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh dear. I've committed #10 many times. Thanks for the clue.

Stephanie Blake, Colorado Writer said...

Well, great. There I go again shooting beer out my nose while reading the snarkiness on your blog. OMG, you are freakin' hilarious. I almost shot myself in the toe by putting "Thank you for your interest" on my sample pages cover letter. Whew! Can I just say, "I'm delighted to send you a sample of my work?"

Anonymous said...

The submission guidelines of several other agents specify that you should let them know if you want your manuscript recycled, so while perhaps it's a duh! moment for you, it's apparently something that needs elucidating for some of your colleagues.

Snarkfodder said...

Poor Miss Snark. :(

Here, I'll make you feel better. Give me your mailing address and I'll let you read my brilliant piece of wrGRKK.

How rude. I can still type with my head bit off, you know! Oh... but apparently not for lonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn

Anonymous said...

What's wrong with "I've enclosed a #10 SASE. Pages are recyclable." except that it's boilerplate/obvious?

snarkymous said...

As I recently discovered, the post office will only do delivery confirmation for priority mail or thick first class, so that could be why some people send it that way. Or, in the case of my husband, I didn't give him clear enough mailing instructions when he went to the post office in his office building to send my requested partial.

What's this about italics, though? Some agents say they're preferred, others say always underline. What about italics for your list of previously published books?

Anonymous said...

Does Ms. Snark hate writers?

Miss Snark said...

Yo Snarkymous, italics are fine for that stuff. Don't write your cover letter/query letter using an italicized font.

got it?

Anonymous Coward said...

No binder clips. And naked is best.

This surprises me. Binding/stapes I understand because you can't easily pull out pages, but putting loose manuscripts into an envelope seems like an invitation to drop them all over the floor. Or at least it would be for someone like me, the Inspector Clouseau of writers.

Chumplet said...

Jeez, you're scaring me again. Just when the hot flashes were starting to recede.

Anonymous said...

I second anonymous's questions about #10 for three reasons:
1) Envelopes get lost. Isn't it better for the writer to be on the safe side and indicate he/she enclosed an envelope, rather than risk the annoyance of said agent?

2) I see no problem with signalling to the agent that I'm fully aware they'll be recycling my manuscript and that I don't have an issue with that. One would *think* this would say to the agent "Thank God. I can safely recycle this without worrying about the nut calling me three weeks later and demanding it back." Since you do get people like that, right? Why not put Agent X's mind at ease?

2B) I don't want Agent X thinking I'm sloppy, want my manuscript back, but forgot to include enough postage to get it back.

3) Given your concerns about people following directions, one would think you'd be glad people were aware of the directions and are making sure you're aware they're following them.

I have a friend who's a widely produced, professional playwright (makes his living, gets commissions); he always encloses "the script need not be returned and may be destroyed" on his cover letters. Please explain why this is a bad thing.

Either one or both of us is cranky.

delilah said...

"Don't write your cover letter using an italicized font."

But I take it, 40 pt., cerulean blue is okay?

Snork.

Speaking of stooopid: Did anyone, besides me, not know that today was opening day for Drive-Like-An-Asshole week?

Boy they were out in force! One of 'em had actually managed to get both of his rear wheels up on the cement divider. How do you do that?!!

Miss Snark said...

When you include a #10 SASE I know you didn't forget an envelope for your manuscript pages. You and I both know I'm not going to frame them (despite the agony of regret I will feel years from now when those pages are worth a mint).

Saying "I've enclosed an SASE" is also obvious but I don't yap about that cause there are times when the envelope gets put between pages and I do want to know you've sent it before I throw the whole mess out.

Telling me I can recycle the pages is like saying I have your permision to say no: it's a given.

Don't waste your precious 250 words in a cover letter telling me what I already know. Use it to give me your Amex Card # and pin code.

The gin man needs a BIG tip today.

Anonymous said...

Well, that makes sense, then. I didn't register the #10. Good to know about the recycling mentality.

HawkOwl said...

Anonymous coward - I think people who have cause to receive manuscripts in the mail come to expect to get manuscripts in the mail, so they probably open every thick envelope as if it contained 500 lose pages. Just in case it's a manuscript.

Personally I send everything priority, I don't care where to, simply because the ratio of lost regular mail to actually delivered regular mail is too high enough for my taste. If it's important enough for me to mail, it's important enough for me to mail with a tracking number.

Kim said...

Yikes! The lousy, soggy weather's really gettin' to those of us in the northeast, no?

Gin man's gonna be busy over the next few days if it doesn't dry out here soon. I just sent out a query and think I may have shot myself... hopefully it's only in the foot :)

Sarabande said...

Reading about the things people innocently do wrong (and by that I mean the stuff that's not obviously wrong and annoying) reminds me of the time I called to apply for a job listed in the newspaper... and when I was hanging up I realized I hadn't left my number for them to call me back.

I figured I'd look like an even bigger idiot if I called back, so I just laughed and tried the next ad.

I got the job :) I'm hoping that I'll get another book published as well as an agent, thanks to Miss Snark's info. I really HATE it when I do everything right except that one little thing...

Thanks for the info, as always.

B. Dagger Lee said...

'How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is / To have a thankless commenter! Away, away!'

Short form: If you want to be a professional writer, act, write and present as one.

There's an old-fashioned, formal, businesslike way of indicating you've enclosed something. Way down under your signature, left-justified, put "Encl." That's it.

Save the OCD for the writing details. Save the grandiosity for puncturing the glass ceiling limiting the imagination in the mind. Kicking against boundaries set by professionals is just infantile.

NYC is full of very busy professionals like Miss S. And crazy people. Which do you want to come off as?


yrs, B. Dagger Lee

Anonymous said...

What does the fab Miss Snark suggest regarding return address on the SASE? Do we leave it blank or fill in the agency's address. It seems like a niggling detail, but one I've debated.
I'm guilty of describing enclosed pages as recyclable. I'll drop it from future queries.
Thank you Miss Snark.
You're great.

Sharon Lee said...

1. I'm honest to dog not sure why you spend $4.05 to send queries by priority mail. It doesn't get them read any faster. They (16 of them today) sat here for a week, just like the guy who sent his in a manila envelope and paid 87 cents. You're gonna query 100 agents? Here's the comparison.

Well, I send letters (and manuscripts) Priority Mail because then I can track them on the USPS site and find out when/if they've been delivered. That way, I know to an inch when to start obsessing over how long it will be until I Hear Something (tm).

A little efficiency is worth a couple bucks.

Jessica said...

My favs are #4 and #6. I laughed out loud at both of them.
As for what Anonymous Coward said... said, I totally understand the naked pages thing. I work with insurance claims, and we recieve about 300-400 a day in all kinds of envelopes. When I get ones that are stapled or paper clipped, I wish I had the power of an agent to just say "not right for me" and toss it in the garbage. Unfortunatly, that would probably get me fired.

Talia Mana said...

My understanding is that full manuscripts should have a loose rubber band around them. loose enough so the pages don't curl but firm enough to keep them together. other than that yeah nekkid is what i like too :-) oh sorry we're talking about pages. hmmm shouldn't have lifted my head out of the gin pail

i always assume that if i haven't included an envelope (and if it's international the cost is prohibitive) that it will go to KY's dirt box and that's fine by me. i can't see any point in telling the agent/publisher what to do with it. most of them say any work submitted without sase will be destroyed. fine by me.

anyway i ENJOYED that so lovely to see you in fine form. i wish i had an eager audience to vent all my frustrations to. doh! that was what i was meant to do in my blog... but where are the adoring fans waiting for me to spit out pearls of wisdom

sigh. guess i will have to keep living vicariously. miss snark is the judge judy of publishing and i love her for it

Anonymous said...

But wait--no binder clips? For a partial?

Anonymous Coward said...

I think people who have cause to receive manuscripts in the mail come to expect to get manuscripts in the mail

Ah, but you see though I've come to expect a staircase between my bedroom and the living room, that doesn't prevent me from trippng on it at least once a month. It's a good thing I'm not handling 500 page loose manuscripts on a regular basis.

Termagant 2 said...

Okay, I think by now we've decided the $4.05 postage (so we can be sure the USPS is doing what they say they will do when we pay them lesser amounts) is not for you agents & editors: it's for US.

So when 6-12 months have passed and we haven't heard "yes, please", "not in my lifetime", or "don't quit your day job", we'll at least know you GOT the ding-dang thing.

Snork, indeed.

T2

overdog said...

Anonymous, Miss Snark does not hate writers. Miss Snark has spent a day with her slush pile. If her experience is anything like mine, she has to dig through a lot of crap to find the good stuff (like what *you* send her), and it makes her crabby.

If she didn't love professional writers she wouldn't be an agent. It's the amateurs that frustrate her.

BuffySquirrel said...

Sometimes the pages do fall all over the floor. That's why you numbered them...right?

Robin said...

I send priority mail mostly because I don't send many queries (especially via the postal service) and with prepaid priority mail envelopes, I don't have to stand in line at the post office, and I don't have to endure the small town post office women, whom I fear will remember me as 'the writer' who keeps sending off packages to New York, but who never becomes famous.

Not that they don't think I'm cute for trying.

Stuff, peel, stick, drop. Well worth three bucks.

r louis scott said...

So what you are saying is, I will have a better chance of being asked by you for a partial if I mail the query whilst naked? Shall I tell you I have done this in the query or does Miss Snark simply know these things?

Sundae Best said...

"...don't have to endure the small town post office women, whom I fear will remember me as 'the writer' who keeps sending off packages to New York, but who never becomes famous."

Robin, we must live in the same gossipy town. Those old PO broads will be the cause of a new shade of "postal" someday!

Anonymous said...

Why don't you just go sell cars if writers annoy you so much? Granted it doesn't have the same cachet as "literary agent" but you can still hold your potential customers in contempt and make good money to boot.

Susan Boyer said...

Mea culpa, mea culpa...
I have commited the first and tenth deadly sins...on numerous occasions. The first because, as T2 said, I needed to know that each of my precious children reached their destinations safely, and, alas, they could not call when they got there. Now I just drop them in the box and figure, hey, if they get lost, they'll find their way home eventually--and I enclose a SAS postcard on partials/fulls. (I hope this isn't another faux pas.) Sin # 10 was committed because I wanted to be sure that the agents opening my queries did not think me a nitwit for enclosing an envelope too small for them to return all of my materials. I promise never to do it again. Thanks for the insight to the other end of the mail route!

Dave said...

A friend of mine who snail mails a newsletter says that people don't even know how to write their names on cheques let alone address an envelop.

Sad, ain't it.

litagent said...

I actually do appreciate being told that I can recycle pages, particularly if the author hasn't included a SASE (many authors specify that I can respond by email, which I do). What I don't appreciate are the authors who ask me to "destroy" the manuscripts -- do they really think that the guy who picks up the recycling is going to appropriate their work?

Stephanie Blake, Colorado Writer said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Maybe I can help a little with the Priority Mail question...though my answer may not apply to others.

I live in Alaska. If I'm sending more than a few sample pages, I might as well pay for Priority Mail 'cause it doesn't cost much more. And, yes, delivery confirmation is nice. Mostly our mail works fine, but on several occasions I've received mail with postmarks more than six weeks old. So I worry about what I send, when I care whether it arrives.

Once I even sent some requested material via FedEx...because I was in Vegas, I'd be traveling for the next couple of months, and the quickest way to deal with the request was to go to FedEx Kinko's. And who would want to go find a post office after paying 50 cents per page to print 80 pages? Didn't seem worth the hassle. I grabbed an envelope and sent it.

And finally...come on. For some people, $4 (or $400) doesn't mean much. I send all sorts of mail out in the course of a business day, and counting postage won't make much of a difference to my bottom line. Not all writers are struggling financially.

Worse yet, I pay a guy $15/hour to handle things like mail for me.

Stephanie Blake, Colorado Writer said...

I am still laughing because of this post and the comments which keep popping up.

I sent a partial out this afternoon and had a serious panic attack on the way to the car because I couldn't remember if I put "Please find the enclosed SASE for your response," when I know damn well there is no SASE in the packet because the agent doesn't need one. She uses email to respond.

Every so often this evening I start laughing for no reason. Thank you Miss Snark.

Talia Mana said...

one option i've read about is to do a sase envelope or postcard with boxes on it for the agent to tick
1. not right for my list
2. please send partial
3. please send full

or something along those lines. then the agent ticks the box and sends it back to you... can't remember where i read this little gem

oh and include on it the name of the agent so when it comes back you know which agent it comes from

Anonymous said...

falling down is common as the rain

Dave Kuzminski said...

Here is a suggestion I'm made before, though I don't recall if I mentioned it here.

When you mail your manuscript or sample chapters, enclose those in a large resealable plastic bag. One of the brands makes one large enough to hold about 200-pages of manuscript in it without tearing and ripping to get it out. I also put the SASE in it to protect it from moisture as well.

Advantages?

1. Well, I've had manuscripts returned before they were even delivered by the postal service because the envelope got drenched and came apart.

2. I've received some back that the humidity caused to stick together.

3. The agent doesn't have to worry about any of the pages slipping out to scatter onto the floor, into the walkway of a subway car, into the pool, or into the gin bucket while the manuscript is merely being carried. The pages remain together in the right order and there are no clips or staples to deal with.

4. When finished, the agent has a handy bag to keep a purse dry or prevent the gin from being diluted the next time it rains. Agent's choice as to which is more important at the moment. ;)

YA author said...

RE the Priority Mail snark:

I promised a signed copy of one of my books to a young reader (her grandfather helped me with some research and I listed his name in the acknowlegements). When the book was released in early 2005 and I received my author copies, I put one in the mail to this child right away. THIRTEEN MONTHS LATER, I received the empty envelope marked "Contents missing; return to sender." I was mortified. I emailed and discovered the young reader had not received the book. I immediately put another signed copy plus one of my latest release in the mail--Priority mail--because even if you don't pay extra for tracking, Priority mail is rarely ever lost.

I got a request a couple of weeks ago from the Agent of My Dreams. You bet your sweet bippy that I sent her the material Priority mail.

I think you're the berries, Miss Snark, and because of you my nitwit quotient is decreasing. But I've had several bad experiences with media mail. When it comes to the occasional important item, I'll shell out the extra money for Priority postage and sacrifice my daily cheeseburger to pay for it.

Elektra said...

I've had responses not get back to me because the agent tried to mail back the five sample pages, and I only put a single stamp on the SASE (two stamps on the outside envelope because of weight). Sometimes you have to spell things out.

Anonymous said...

To the anonymous person who suggested car sales: your mistaken assumption here is that the writer is a "customer". The agent-writer relationship is a partnership. If it goes well, you both make money. And until there are more agents looking for writers than there are writers looking for agents, the writer will always be more pressed in the beginning to demonstrate why he or she would be an ideal partner.

I have a fantastic agent and an equally fantastic publisher, the former of which contacted me after I published something she liked. Had I responded with the attitude that the agency was lucky to have me - no. 11 on Miss Snark's list - my agent would have politely told me where I could stick my manuscript. All Miss Snark is asking is that people do their research and follow the rules.

Wanting to be published and wanting to be a writer are not the same thing. Publishing is a business and if you want a publishing house to pay you for your work, then you should be willing to meet its requirements as you would for any paid work, whether you officially consider it a job or not. You wouldn't show up for an interview at an accounting firm badly dressed and claiming that you didn't bother to get your resume in shape or think about how to answer the expected interview questions because you're a really good accountant and the firm should just look past these superficial formalities and hire you because you're so darn talented. You're an accountant, not a job interviewer! You should just be able to do your number crunching and not worry about presentation! Think it's not analogous?

The only people Miss Snark is holding in contempt are people who won't follow basic instructions, thereby demonstrating that they hold in contempt well-established publishing standards as well as the agent's time and effort.

M. Takhallus. said...

I use FedEx. Why? Because they come to my house and pick it up and I don't have to cram a big envelope into my mail box and hope it reaches its destination.

All due respect, Miss Snark, I don't FedEx so you (or my agent or publishers) will be impressed, I FedEx because it works for me. I like knowing my mail will get where it's going.

Miss Snark said...

you FedEx QUERY LETTERS? You spend $11 a pop on queries?

Please I beg of you tell me that is not so.

I'm not talking about manuscripts, gifts to devoted fans, and certainly not my payment to Gin of the Month club.

I'm talking SOLELY about query letters.

Spending more than 87 cents for them doesn't make any sense. Even if you want to know it arrived.

Remind me to get in the snake oil business and offer you return receipts for your deliveries.

sheesh

julie said...

One of my clients lives a 20 minute drive down the road. Once in a while a check *really* gets lost in the mail and it takes six weeks to get to me. We have a hoot reading all of the postmarks, but I have to write them and ask where the check is, they have to go look at their records, and so on. It costs money. If it's important, I use Priority Mail with confirmation so I can track it.

Delilah: It's ALWAYS Drive-Like-An-Asshole week where I live. Perhaps that explains the lost mail issue. ;-)

Anonymous said...

I too wonder about the return address on the SASE, just as the earlier anonymous mentioned. Could Miss Snark elucidate on that?

Anonymous said...

I too wonder about the return address on the SASE, just as the earlier anonymous mentioned. Could Miss Snark elucidate on that?

Miss Snark has before, although it's likely buried in Snarkives where even Miss Adventure would have trouble finding it.

Put your OWN address as the return address, so that if anyone gets dinged for the letter being postage-due, it will be you, not Miss Snark.

Miss Snark is not willing to spend her gin money making sure your form rejection letter gets to you.

Anonymous said...

Isn't a #10 envelope a business envelope, and not large enough for more than about six sheets of paper?

Do people actually use italicized fonts in correspondence? Bizarre. I'd be peeved too.

M. Takhallus. said...

Money is all relative, Miss Snark.

If I'll spend $12 on a cigar, $50 on a bottle of Scotch and $300 on a lovely meal, it would seem almost insulting to communicate with your no doubt lovely person by means of a mere 87 cents' worth of postage.

Of course email's good too.

Anonymous said...

Me, I hand-deliver everything. And the "SASE" just says I'm waiting outside...

I don't trust those post office folks, they can go a little mad...

Mark said...

And yet the majority present themselves in this negative light. One would think it would make the job of selling project easier, but it doesn't.

Anonymous said...

Three chapters, a synopsis, and query from California to NY is over $2 of regular postage. A manilla envelope is another $1 or so, so the difference between that and Priority for 100 queries isn't even the cost of a single dinner out. And for that dollar, the postperson brings the prepaid envelopes right to my door and then takes them away again. Totally worth it.

Anonymous said...

Regarding No. 10--That may be a "No duh" for you, but it's definitely not a "No duh" across the board. I can't tell you how many times I've had postage due on #10 envelopes because some schlub crammed 10 pages into the SASE.

AND, I had a very popular agent tell me in a decidedly condescending manner that he couldn't return my materials unless I sent an appropriate SASE with appropriate postage. And that was after I had written in my query, "There is no need to return the manuscript pages. I am enclosing a SASE for your response."

Du-uh, Dude.

Anonymous said...

Regarding putting one's own address in the From area on the SASE:

What happens when one does this, then gets a unidentifiable rejection? Say, a little note on the first page of the mss signed illegibly?

One size is never gonna fit all.

theraspberrycordial said...

Maybe we're all just being a tad anally retentive here... I read somewhere that some children's writer, who was living in the bush, sent her first manuscript in all grotty with coffee cup stains on it and it was so badly presented that it made the publishers laugh BUT it also caught their attention and it got published and did really well.

I'm priming my query letter with some toast crumbs and OJ as I type... biscuit anyone?

Dragonet2 said...

It's always 'drive-like-an-asshole-week' in Johnson County KS. My recent drive to Los Angeles and back for the World Science Fiction Convention was a piece of cake compared to driving daily to my work office out in Johnson County.

On leaving the pages loose.... That's why a slugline including name and title and page is a Good Thing. And in Word it's damn easy, if anyone needs to know how, ask me via email. dragonet (at) kc dot rr dot com. Don't know about anything other than Word or Claris Works (Mac 'office' suite), but it should be similar.

jude calvert-toulmin said...

jessica:

> When I get ones that are stapled or paper clipped, I wish I had the power of an agent to just say "not right for me" and toss it in the garbage. Unfortunatly, that would probably get me fired.

HA HA HA HA HA! :) Nice one :)

one of the many anonymouses: (why oh why do posters not at least use a unique posting name!)

>.....The only people Miss Snark is holding in contempt are people who won't follow basic instructions, thereby demonstrating that they hold in contempt well-established publishing standards as well as the agent's time and effort.

Bloody hell, what a fantastic riposte to anonymous's rather acidic post! (one of the other anonymouses) :) You've summed it up beautifully and eloquently. You should be a writer ;)

Anonymous said...

By the way, should we put our ages on the query letter? You said some people are too old to be good long term investments.

Anonymous said...

Return address for SASE: After the anthrax mailings, I believe the post office will not deliver letters which have the same address for destination and return. That may have changed.

Anonymous said...

What happens when one does this, then gets a unidentifiable rejection? Say, a little note on the first page of the mss signed illegibly?

Then you learn to start writing the agent's name neatly on the back of the SASE.

T. Q. Mnos said...

7. Telling me what my web page says. Amazingly enough, I know what the submission guidelines are for my agency.

Er, in what way is this annoying? I often say something like, "Per your Web site, I have enclosed a short synopsis and the first five pages." At the very least, I figured it sez I did some research.

I always do this when I find conflicting submission guidelines. It's not exactly unusual to find guidelines on an agent's personal website conflicting with her agency's site. Or (when an agent doesn't have a web site: not exactly unusual, either) AgentQuery conflicting with Jeff Herman's guide or whatever.

Jessica said...

Priority mail is for when I really really want to make sure my local post office hasn't neglected to handle the package. And I don't even live in Alaska.The extra few bucks are worth it for me to know that my outgoing mail isn't aging in the back of a delivery van under a drift of McDonald's wrappers.

lauri@nomadpress.net said...

Dearest Miss Snark,
You are crabby today. Want to come over for a visit?
Nomad

Anonymous said...

Stop picking on us anonymouses. It's bad enough obsessing over every little detail without having to think up a cool name.

Signed: Anonymice

vqmlw - Anonymouses will vanquish the literary world.

Miss Snark said...

Yo, Nomad!
Do you have cookies?
Gin?

Never mind about the gin actually, I have my travelling flask/barrel.

Where is that Vermont place again?

Anonymous said...

Regarding #1, if you're sending a full manuscript, it's only a few cents more for priority mail, because there's a flat rate. It's worth it to me to know I'm sending a highly visible package - it makes me think the post office will be slightly less likely to lose it. I don't care how long it sits on YOUR desk, as long as I can feel relatively sure it actually arrived there. I don't get the opportunity to send many full manuscripts out, so I can afford a few pennies more for postage. Also, it keeps me from phoning you to see if the package arrived.

By the way, all that nitwit priority mail tape that encases the package? That, I regret. Seems the postal clerk is afraid my thriller will escape its confines and wreck havoc on unsuspecting postal workers.

Miss Snark said...

all these comments about manuscripts, gifts, checks, whatever.

Do you not get that this is the SLUSH pile I'm talking about?

The slush pile is queries only. You can hand deliver your finished manuscript with a uniformed footman in a burnt umber Prism and it's ok with me.

It's the queries coming in priority packaging that my thrifty heart finds...weird.

lizzie26 said...

The problem is, is that the ones who submit queries in italics,"invite" you to request their ms., etc, probably don't read your blog. Or any agent's blog.

Interesting about what you (Miss Snark) said about not needing to mention the # 10 SASE and not returning ms. I have had several editors (and a few agents) stuff as many of my pages as they can into my #10 SASE and I end up paying the extra postage. So now I put "Response Only" under the flap of the SASE.

AngieG said...

Oh geez, it's obvious Miss Snark hasn't tried to schlep a couple of kids through Target on a quest for manila envelopes. If I don't have any in the house, you can bet I'll use priority mail envelopes to send the 1 or 2 (out of 10) queries that require samples.

I chalk it up as a mental health expense, kind of like the occasional night where we'll spend $40 to take the family out to eat when I just can't face cooking dinner after a long day at work.

Emil Michelle said...

Oh my! Deliver us, Lord, for the Philistines are upon us. I read this rule of thumb somewhere: we usually accuse others of that which we most despise about ourselves.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Well, I confess to now telling editors and agents to recycle my pages. I do this because one publisher who looked at two full versions of something I wrote ignored my number ten SASE and mailed back both sets of pages at their expense. It was a nice thought, but the pages were no longer needed. ... So, obvious or not, I always say the eqivalent of:

Hey, I don't know if your mind is in the on or off position today, but don't send back the pages. Just send the rejection slip.

Me, da Pixie with 'tude!

Miss Snark said...

It's quite true Miss Snark does not schlepp small humans anywhere. Small dogs yes. Miss Snark is not licensed to board humans.

golfpoor said...

I would think Mz. Snark would welcome a tracking number on envelopes, which you can only get with priority...no one calling up to confirm their gem got to her. 30 pages sent first class isn't much more than priority, or so my postal clerk tells me, after careful weighing. Media mail? Some agents specifically say "No media mail" in their sub requirements.

Unique Posting Name said...

Here's another way to look at the priority mail debate. Going the standard first class route gives you a bit more time in that period of unwarranted optimism that occurs between identifying a new potential agent to query and receiving her rejection.

Word Ver: waytud

Anonymous said...

Put your OWN address as the return address, so that if anyone gets dinged for the letter being postage-due, it will be you, not Miss Snark.

Yes, exactly true.

Regarding putting one's own address in the From area on the SASE:
What happens when one does this, then gets a unidentifiable rejection? Say, a little note on the first page of the mss signed illegibly?


Write a small number or letter on the back of the envelope for your own tracking purposes. If you've kept a log (notebook, spreadsheet, etc.) of the queries you've sent, you can easily keep track of which agent matches which code. Not to be anal or anything.

And, finally:

Return address for SASE: After the anthrax mailings, I believe the post office will not deliver letters which have the same address for destination and return. That may have changed.

That's not quite true---letters without ANY return address are suspect and may not be delivered. If the to and from addresses match, it's not a red flag. Having no return address at all is.
-SK

Ryan Field said...

The most important thing to do is find out the submission guidelines of the specific agency. Period. Don't take for granted one agency has the same guidelines as another.

1. I'm honest to dog not sure why you spend $4.05 to send queries by priority mail. It doesn't get them read any faster. They (16 of them today) sat here for a week, just like the guy who sent his in a manila envelope and paid 87 cents. You're gonna query 100 agents? Here's the comparison.

That was a direct quote from Miss Snark.

Here's a direct quote, verbatim, from a highly publicized book, written by a very successful agent who teaches in a well-known university.

"...send your letter by FedEx (or some other guaranteed-signiture delivery method)instead of by regular mail. Spend $ll instead of 33 cents. If it comes by FedEx someone's forced to sign for it, and thus it usually gets opened on the spot."

Here's the killer line: "This doesn't guarantee it will get read---and the agent or editor may even get annoyed---but at least he'll be aware of it. And he just might read it with greater care because he knows you cared about it enough to spend the money."

Or, he/she might just think you're a nitwit.

Miss Snark, though I've never done this, preferring good vodka over unecessary postage, there are clearly a few mixed signals within the industry and it's probably why you're seeing $405 vs 87 cents.

Anonymous said...

You know what's more annoying than binder clips? It's when people wrap their mss in yards of bubble wrap, or use those envelopes padded with recycled newspapers and you open them up and you're just covered in the stuff.

It's a pile of papers, not a Fabrege egg.

not another anonymous! said...

Another way to distinguish the SASE that has your address in both the to and from places (besides having a number that correlates, which is a great suggestion) is writing the name of the agent either on the back of the envelope or the lower left on the front. If you're particularly worried about water stains you could write it on the inside flap, but that might be going a bit far.

So far none of my SASEs have disappeared, except where I received my rejection via email instead.

Anonymous said...

a highly publicized book, written by a very successful agent

The same book also suggests that no matter how otherwise neat, grammatical, and formally perfect your MS is, the slightest little nick in even one of the pages will get the entire MS instantly tossed as pre-read.

I don't believe anyone can read the book without experiencing an enormous sense of dispirited futility. I personally wish the author ill, and I hope he banks his professional reputation on a book that turns out to be plagiarized.

type, monkey, type said...

Just FYI, a postmaster informed me that priority mail goes at exactly the same speed as first class, and is not prioritized in any way.

Tracking is another matter, of course.

Anonymous said...

A couple of more notes on the SASE.

Non-metered (stamped) postage is required.

Some agents want their address listed as the return address, in the top left corner. Ethan Ellenberg states so on his website, for example.

He also types in bold that he wants self-sealing envelopes.

Hope this helps a fellow writer.

Christine said...

Oh, it totally amazes me how people send their stuff. I once had a guy Fed Ex his manuscript. Uh, I almost fell over when I saw how much it cost him. $40! Fortunately I had nothing else to read, other than queries, but that's ridiculous.

Hey, guys. I have Stamps.com. Even Media Mail packages come with an e-tracker. You pay a little but it's nothing compared to what Priority costs.

I always chortle when I see the Priority Mail packages come. Just cause you got it here fast has no bearing on the speed it gets read.

Anonymous said...

Christine,
You should update your profile. It was a pain to follow the links and when I finally found where you actually write the page was stretched so far that I had to use the mouse to read the script as it doesn't fit. Too much trouble to bother.

Sal said...

Return address for SASE: After the anthrax mailings, I believe the post office will not deliver letters which have the same address for destination and return. That may have changed.

The post office has always delivered such letters as far as I know. The advice from TPTB, such as it was, was directed to the mailroom or whoever was handling the incoming mail.

The advice given was that, among other suspicious characteristics, you should treat incoming packages/letters with caution if (1) there is no return address or (2) the postmark does not match the return address.

Being as your address would be in the return address field, you probably would be less likely to be suspicious of the fact that the postmark didn't match the return address.

What happens when one does this, then gets a unidentifiable rejection? Say, a little note on the first page of the mss signed illegibly?

SOLUTION: (return address or address)

Miss Snark/Sal Towse
Aerie on the Hill
San Francisco, CA 94133