Just cause it's fun, let's talk about SASEs again

I throw away queries without SASEs.
I've taken some heat for that.

If you think I'm being a hardass for this, so be it. But consider this: I emailed someone about five seconds ago asking for the first three chapters. Yes, I have his SASE. Yes I'll probably use it to say no after I've read the first three chapters (remember, this isn't a comment on his writing, it's a reflection of the 1% yes rate right now).

His email bounced. I can't tell why. It may be that eye and one are transposed, or there's a typo on his query letter. Who knows. I'll use the SASE t ask for chapters now, but if he had not included it, he'd never hear from me even though I tried.

This happens more than you think. When I type in an email address there are three critical chances for error: you have to make sure you don't have a typo; that you have an email address that's not subject to easy error; and that I type it correctly. If you assume that every email sent to you gets to you, you're the n1tw1t4sure@sol.com

Electronic communication isn't foolproof.
Neither is snail mail.
Putting your email address on your query letter is a very very good idea.
So is including an SASE.
Mr X has no idea how smart he was to do this.


Anonymous said...

Okay, so... name, address, phone number, e-mail address, date... as far as contact info on a query, that should cover it, right?


Miss Snark said...


Anonymous said...

I always include SASEs, and all the other information too, and believe it or not, two editors decided to phone me. That was so nice I probably sounded like a dunce since I could barely talk. "um, uh, well." Both were acceptances - with enthusiasm! But I ALWAYS include a SASE (and usually a SASP too) and then I'm assured my manuscript arrived.

Anonymous said...

Call me a nitwit, but somebody please tell me what 'sol' stands for in Miss Snark's phony e-mail address.

Anonymous said...

Here's a nice twist on email: Adelphia just got bought out by Time/Warner, and at their leisure, they will change everyone's email address.

For older queries, especially equeries, floating out there somewhere in never, never land, the writer can assume one of two things:

A. Asshole agent was never going to respond anyway so screw 'em.

B. Long-time-no-hear agent will be despondent when they discover brilliant equery, meaning writer must immediately notify agent(s) of pending email change.

Moral: Fuck if I know.

Kim said...

I don't get what's so difficult about the SASE and why people complain about sending them. Where's the problem? If you don't get it back - so what? No one ever starved because they were short by 39 cents. I'd rather lose that stamp (and envelope, I guess) and get The Call via e-mail, than NOT get any call due to a cybersnafu.

I've had e-mails travel to strange and bizarre places, never to be seen or heard from again. I've also had others ask me if I've recived an e-mail, only to reply, "your wha?" Cyberspace is a tricky place - at times it's very much like the Bermuda Triangle. Why take the chance if I don't have to?

BTW - for anonymous re sol - if I'm not mistaken, it means "shit outta luck"

Anonymous said...

sol stands for "sh-- out of luck."

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Call me a nitwit, but somebody please tell me what 'sol' stands for in Miss Snark's phony e-mail address.

Ummm, isn't that 'shit outa luck'?

Anonymous said...

Dear anonymous.
type these three words into google or yahoo or ask "internet slang sol" ...
Got it!

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure what the cannon abbreviation for "sol" is, but I've used it for "sooner or later" and also "shit out of luck."

Anonymous said...

I always include a S.A.S.E. In addition, my telephone numbers and e-addresses are in the footer of the cover letter.

And have had people insist that there was no S.A.S.E or tell me they wish I had included telephone number or e-address.

I can only conclude that:
1) they lost it, but blame me.
2) they don't read to the bottom of the letter

What's a writer to do?
It's damned if you do and damned if you don't.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous #5,
Do you really want to work with someone who can't find your name & phone number in a one-page letter?

If they blame you for a non- problem, think about what they would blame you for in the future.

Anonymous said...

At this point, I'm rooting for Mr. X. Not sure why. Just because submitting your novel is tough. Go, go , go, Mr. X.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

I always include a primary and secondary email address. I found the suggestion on a publisher's site.

My biggest SASE problem was trying to get return postage on an SASE sent to a Canadian publisher. Their web site says to buy an international reply coupon. Fine. Except no one at the post office seemed to know what the devil I was askin' for. I sent them a dollar and a quarter in Canadian change.

They'll either laugh themselves silly, think I'm an idiot, or find me incredibly inventive. I'm bettin' on "idiot."

"Hey, Martha! Look at this one. An American writer with a UK email, and they sent quarters! Here, take her quarters and get me a Coke!"

"What do we do with her submission?"

"Have you lined the bird cage yet?"


"Good. Recycle it."

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm not sure it's a good idea to put your contact information at the bottom of the letter when the professional standard is to have it on the top. If more than one person has missed your contact information, I would quit putting it at the bottom of the letter and put it at the top.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

From Miss Anna G.'s blog come these comments on not receiving an SASE:

"The big problem is, actually, that those people then call up and demand to know where their submission is, and send annoying faxes, and post letters (also lacking sase) asking when they will hear back, and sometimes post in my livejournal asking about it, and it's just irritating in general. i would much rather just be able to send them a form rejection letter and be freaking done with it, you know?"


Anonymous said...

Not only do I always include an SASE, but I use those ones with the pull tab that self-glues so there's not need for moisture of any kind...ain't I sweet!?

Although, once I received my SASE back and realized I'd mailed myself the envelope to the agent instead of the other way around. Made me wonder just how many times I've screwed up, unknowlingly (like deciding to take out 8,000 words from my ms, and querying, and then sending requested pages, and then realizing I left typos in a previously almost pristine ms...*sob*)

One thing I "get" from coming here is: quitcher whining. I still whine sometimes-the vodka tonic on the sofa (with lotsochocolate), but heck, I'm human. That sh and the it happens, suck it up, and face forward. That "good writing" has different definitions in the publishing world, suck it up. That with 1% being 1% the odds will only make me sob into my pillow, so I can't think about that...mustn't...think...about *sob* ...that...

Finally, instead of sitting around wah wahing - I'm writing. I'm writing a lot. Ultimately, that's what I (we?) want to do, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

If you use e-mail to talk with anyone important to you, you should explicitly add their address to your e-mail filter to be sure it doesn't wind up deleted as junk. Filters can be fooled both ways. You don't want the leter deleted because the agent commented on your excellent sex scean.

Anonymous said...

I set up my email so any messages that contain 'query', 'submission', 'proposal', etc. automatically go to a folder in my inbox labeled 'Writing'. Then I don't have to scan through the junk mail subject lines, which are very icky (but I do, anyway, just in case).

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why a SASE is necessary.

Miss Snark, do you use SASEs to say "yes, please send more" to submitters?

If SASEs are only for rejections, why not just assume if the agent doesn't get back to you, they are saying "no?"

I don't see the point of sending a SASE if only to get confirmation the agent isn't interested. If they are, they'll call you. If not, you won't hear anything.

Elektra said...

To the first anonymous...

I'm not positive if this is correct, but I always add my phone number and mailing address at the bottom of the E-mail. That should sort out any problems were the E-mail, for some reason, to bounce.

Anonymous said...

mcswilligans, read the post before you comment already. sheesh.

Anonymous said...

I got a request for a full by email. The agent followed up saying that she had requested it a couple weeks ago-just checking to make sure I got the email. I hadn't.
Include everything.

B. Dagger Lee said...

My dear mcswiggans (et al):

Let “SASE” EQUAL “Clearly stated boundary and rule for communicating with me for reasons stated over and over again (and having to do with the factors for organizing paper, time, and reading comprehension that work best for me).”

Let “That SASE requirement is slow, is stupid, I don’t do it, move into the info age, is inefficient, or any variation thereof,” EQUAL “I will not respect your clearly stated boundary.”

What’s the conclusion?

yrs, B. Dagger Lee

Anonymous said...

I think that is the point MS is trying to make. He sent an SASE...and he will get a request for more pages via the SASE. If he hadn't sent anything, relying on email to hear a positive response, he would have never gotten the positive response.

Anonymous said...

Did you read Miss Snark's post? She's using this SASE to request chapters...

Anonymous said...

Oddly enough, I often get my SASE back inside a publisher's envelope (with the rejection, or even a sale). I still keep sending them though...

Anonymous said...

The SASE is HOLY! And should never be treated lightly.

Jean said...

I actually had a post office employee tell me there was no such thing as an IRC. This was the main PO of a large town with about 8 workers at the windows at the time.

My podunk PO knew what they were but didn't have any in stock.

I actually had to print out the webpage explaining IRCs and take it to the larger PO and show them. Needless to say, they weren't happy but did find them right where they were supposed to be.


Anonymous said...

McSwilligans, I've gotten a number of "Yes, send more" responses in SASEs from agents I've snail-mailed. From a variety of agencies. Even though I included my email addie.

Don't assume it's always bad news.

Anonymous said...

Dear Miss Snark,

I never send SASE's when making requests.
I just send my houseboy, Brad. He usually brings them back over.
By the way, the housekeeper found your left shoe hanging from the chandelier. I've got it. Come get it.


Anonymous said...

"Except no one at the post office seemed to know what the devil I was askin' for."

This irks me to no end. I'm a U.S. small press editor, and everytime I try to trade an IRC for postage, I have to explain it to the postal people. Every time. Often to the same guy. And then the postal person disapears to "make a phone call" for ten minutes before returning and doing what I told him to do with the IRC in the first place. Anyhoo, this is why
I now accept e-mail submissions from non-U.S. residents or ask them to enclose a $1 bill for return postage. They're more likely to come by US currency than an IRC anyway...

Elektra said...

Skylar, I have the same problem with lottery tickets.
(I hand over ticket thingee)

Clerk: You've only shaded in three numbers at the top.

Me: But you can do it that way. See? It says so in the brochure. Right here.

Clerk: But you need five numbers at the top.

Me: Not if you do it this way. See the brochure?

Clerk: But you don't have enough numbers at the top.

Me: Can you just try to run it through the machine?

Clerk; (handing me perfectly valid, correct number-ed ticket) Hey, I guess it does work. Learn something new every day.

Four days later...

Exact Same Clerk: You don't have enough numbers at the top.

Anonymous said...

What's so difficult about getting your hands on foreign postage? As writers, readers, or even just Rabid Fans of George, we all belong to at least one e-list. Ask a friendly list member in your country of choice to get your postage for you.

Anonymous said...

You also need that m/s back for the wallpaper.

Anonymous said...

I thought sol was both a typo of "aol" and a nod to the shit outta luck phrase at the same time.

And I'm well acquainted with sol in this particular industry, thank you.

Peter L. Winkler said...

Having taken my fiercly principled position tht SASEs are superflous, I sent out a few queries in July. Some went to managing editors at magazines for an article. About six went to agents.

I enclosed SASEs for the agents because I was hoping one or to might scribble a note with feedback on my query and send that back.

Three agents replied with form rejections. Despite the SASEs, the rest never came through with so much as the form-R.

By enclosing SASEs, I actually worsened the percentage of replies I customarily receive.

Anonymous said...

"I don't understand why a SASE is necessary."

I have to agree with this.

We keep hearing that you should only have a agent who loves your work. If an agent loves something, are they going to send one email and forget about it?

Miss Snark is using the SASE to request a partial. She is not googling the author, trying to find a different email. She is not using the phone. In other words, she's not actually that excited about the SASE. So sending in his partial is probably just a waste of postage.

Here's what I have decided:

If the agent likes your work, you can do no wrong.

If the agent doesn't like your work, nothing you do matters.

Elektra said...

Yahzi, that's asking someone on a date and then refusing to give the person your number, saying, "If you really liked me you'd look it up in the white pages."

Anonymous said...

The First Rule of Email:

Use your ISP email address only for contact with your ISP.

Use independent, portable addresses for anything important. Businesses should own their own domain names, and it's not a bad idea for an author. I pay $8/year for my domain, and the registrar will forward my mail to wherever I say.

Google and Yahoo have decent email solutions, too. You can use a web interface, standard email clients, or forward to your ISP's email.

It's OK to forward to your ISP address. Only the forwarding service sees it. Your contacts should only see an address that you fully control.