Conveying fulls and partials to Snark Central

Dear Miss Snark:

Certainly I would never waste an agent's time or my own money by sending a routine query letter using any method other than regular snail mail. But what if an agent requests a partial or (Thank you Jesus!) a full? Given the problems I have occasionally had in the past with the USPS, I am extremely reluctant to entrust them with something this vital to my fledgling career as a writer. Especially when a busy agent may take several weeks--or longer--to respond to the submission, I feel that the cost of sending the material FedEx is well worth it, simply for the comfort of being able to track the package and know that it actually arrived at the agent's office.

I hafta tell ya that this writing business is about to drive me totally effing crazy as it is. Please, please don't tell me that, in addition to all of the other things I have to be concerned about, I now also have to worry that I will antagonize an agent and perhaps prejudice her against my submission simply because I chose to use a reliable carrier to deliver material that the agent had requested.

You can send your prose by Pony Express or liveried footman. You can send it accompanied by flemenco dancers and the Vienna Boys Choir covering "It's Hard Out Here For a Pimp". You can send it in a box of LiverSnaps hackeysacked by a pack of poodles if you so desire.

The objection is not in the method (although I find sending queries by FedEx to be indicative of nitwittery as we all know) and I certainly won't think more or less of you for your chosen conveyance. In fact, by the time I actually read it, I won't even remember how it arrived**.

The problem with FedEx is that it seems to alter the expectation of queriers that their work will be read faster or with a more favorable eye. It won't. As long as YOU know that, fire the manuscript off in a cannonball and we're fine.

The only thing you can't do is make me go to the post office to fetch it.

**this reminds me of one of my favorite stories. A man is herding his five children in Central Park. All five are approximately the same age, and of clearly varied racial and ethnic backgrounds. A tightly coiffed and furred matron stops to view the children playing. She says "what darling children, are they all yours?"

"yes, they are" replies the father.

"Which ones are adopted?" inquires the helmet head

"I'm don't really remember anymore," replies the dad "Once they're yours you kind of forget how they got here".


Cathy in AK said...

I've sent partials and fulls through the USPS using their green "Delivery Confirmation" tags. It doesn't cost much, can be tracked via telephone or online, and the agent doesn't have to sign anything.

Bill Peschel said...

If it's a matter of ensuring that the manuscript arrives there, send it with Delivery Confirmation. It costs about sixty cents and the post office puts a bar-code scanner on the package. The postman scans it upon delivery, and you can track it online.

The beauty of this is that it doesn't require the recipient to sign for it (which keeps you from irritating the agent), while letting you know that the manuscript got as far as the agent's office. What happens after that is up to God and the agent.

If USPS doesn't work for you at all, have you thought of UPS? I think that their basic delivery service doesn't including signing for it, but check that out first before you try it.

Anonymous said...

I recommend going with USPS for two reasons:

1. It's the standard.
2. Your timely is someone else's never arrives.

What I mean is this: Where I live, FedEx is crap. The delivery folk are rude, if you even get to see them, and careless. They leave valuable packages on apartment doorsteps, without knocking, without notification. Said packages often get stolen. Trust me. I know firsthand. Often, delivery is late.

USPS are always prompt here and never lose my packages, shipping or receiving. The same for UPS, adding that those folks are really friendly.

But I have friends in other places whose experiences are directly opposite to mine!

These things vary by region and sometimes sheer luck. Don't overthink it. Just use the standard.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

When one of our children was six weeks old I felt the need to get out of the house, breathe some air and get a bite.

The waitress drops off our menu and says, "Oh, my, what a pretty baby."

I say, "Thank you." She leaves, returning in a few minutes with coffee and water.

"She really is a pretty baby," the waitress repeats, to which we again say thanks.

She gives us a few minutes to decide. We give her our order. I've decided on a later afternoon breakfast. I like breakfast food.

She nods and takes it all down. Then our waitress says, "She (meaning our baby) doesn't look much like you."

I say, "Well, no. She's adopted. She was born in India."

"Oh!" our waitress exclaims. Her eyebrows rise, and you see the light in her attic come on. "Oh, I was wondering how two people like you could have a pretty baby like that!

Then there was the nice present from a friend. He and his wife drove in clear from Seattle. It's a long way, and we enjoyed the visit. He is a photographer. He brought his camera and shot five rolls of film and gave it to us as their present.

We took the film to a photo developer at the mall. The clerk coos at the baby. We hand over the film. Understand that this person saw our baby. She commented how pretty she was and remarked as many did how very black her eyes were. They are a deep brown now, but when she was a baby they were black.

We pick up the photos. In the photos dark blue pants are grey, a reddish area carpet has turned an indecipherable, washed-out colour ... and my baby is white!

So, we return the photos. I'm still carrying our daughter. I say, "The colours are all wrong. This carpet should be reddish, these pants are dark blue ...."

"Well," the clerk says, "If I fix the colours, your baby will be dark."

You do remember that this woman has already seen my daughter, and my daughter is now kicking her feet and smiling and cooing at the clerk? Okay. So, I say, "Well, look at her. She is dark! I want her to look just like this."

"Oh, Oh. I can do that!"

So she did. ...

Okay, one more story. We eat out. Babies are in high chairs. Adults are talking. Waitress puts hot coffee in front of baby who promptly pulls it over on self. I'm feeling as if I were a neglectful parent, even though this happened while I'm shouting at the waitress, "NO! no! don't do that."

We run off to the hospital. The doctor fixes baby up, and says, "Come back in two weeks." He gives us an ointment. It works wonderfully, but we go back.

The nurse asks us to remove her clothes. We do. So, here's my little happy doll laying on her back and kicking her feet and laughing at her dad. Another nurse enters. She screams, "Oh my GOD! This baby has turned BLUE!"

"What?!" I exclaim.

Husband calmly says, "There's nothing wrong with her. We're only here for a follow up."

Nurse says, "OH MY GOD! But look at her! She's turned DARK!"

Husband calmly says, "It's okay. Really it is. She is dark. She was made that way."

We're blond. We're blue eyed. This daughter is a Bengali girl with black hair (reddish in the sun) and dark brown eyes.

There are more stories, but this is a very long post. Thupp! at those who don't like my baby stories!

Kimber An said...

Regardless, I loved your story, Princess. I'm baby-crazy and looking into transracial adoption too.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Dear Kimber,

We've adopted twice from India from International Mission of Hope. The last time we went through Americans for International Adoption. We think they're wonderful! They have a web site, but you will want to talk to them in person. There are many excellent agencies out there. Check out any agency ten ways though.

We also liked WACAP (they have a web site too) though their staff has changed since our first adoption, and I don't know how they are now.

We love children and would have dozens if we could take care of them. ... I think that's why I give my Pixies lots and lots of babies in my pixie stories.

I have heard good things about an agency called "Alternatives in Motion," but I have no first-hand experience with them.

Divine blessings on you and any adotion.

Dave said...

I had a similar occurence with kids and a saavy, old security guard.

Where I worked sponsoired a high school science bowl. We were all assembling in the theater area for the awards when a Coworker's kids (all three adopted - Korean, Indian and Vietnamese - sat on a on a bench-like wall, talking like kids and waiting.

An old security came over to me and said "Whose kids are those? and I pointed to their adopted father - a redheaded irish with pale white complexion and freckles.

He looked at me and smiled (I smiled back). I said, "They're all his." He laughed and smiled and never said another word. Good guy.

Jo Bourne said...

I'd go with the USPS for queries, partials, full ms and so on to an agent.

But if a requested manuscript has to get somewhere reliably and on time ... I would NOT recommend the USPS.

UPS and Fedex are likely to deliver reliably to business offices in downtown NYC.

More important, they will not deliver Priority Mail three weeks to a month later. The USPS does.

Heidi the Hick said...

How can people be so stupid????

Be proud of your brown baby.

Manic Mom said...

Oh, that is a cute story about the children, and if I remember correctly, it's true and it really happened one day when Brad Pitt was walking with his children in the park! Bahhhwaaahhahahah!

Manic Mom said...

sha'el--I love your baby stories too, and think you could write a memoir on the adoption and people's perceptions of you daughter.

Soleta said...

I love your baby stories. I'd love to read more! I'm sorry you have to deal with such ignorant people. :(

Julia said...

Not to hijack, but as the parent of an adopted (and different race) child, I loved those stories.

And, if you are interested in adoption, please check out domestic adoption.

Ok, I'm off my soapbox. Anyone who needs info can contact me through my blog.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

I can't resist one more story. We're visiting family in Seattle, and shopping. Shoes. Cute shoes. At Nordstroms.

My brother-in-law is holding one of our daughters. A clerk approaches and says, "What a pretty baby ... and she looks just like you."

My brother-in-law grins crookedly and points to Husband and says, "Well, actually, she's his."

So the clerk sizes up Husband and says, "Well, she really looks like you." Husband's eyes twinkle as he says, "Not really. She's adopted."

It was too much fun. I still laugh at that one.

Something else that happens to both of our Indian-born daughters is that Spanish-speaking people often mistake them for Hispanics and speak Spanish to them. Indians always know they are from India, however. And often they know from where in India.

Anonymous said...

I live in Chicago, where the mail is terrible. Terrible, terrible, terrible. I will not send anything important through the U.S. mail, nor do I want to receive anything important that way. I can't wait two months for my carrier to decide to deliver a check to me. Delivery confirmation is useless if the carrier forgets to leave the slip or the package. It bothers me that an agent might hold FedEx against me, when really, for those of who live here, FedEx is survival.

Ryan Field said...

I don't know if this is still done, but before e-queries it was common to enclose a self-addressed post card along with the SASE when sending a requested full or partial. When the ms arrived at the agency they would send the post card letting you know they'd received it in tact.

Demon Hunter said...

"It's hard out here for a pimp?" LOL. Miss Snark, what do you know about that? LOL.

Loved that story at the end, by the way! :*)

Anonymous said...

"I'm don't really remember anymore," replies the dad "Once they're yours you kind of forget how they got here".

Except that every mother remembers the moment she met her child. Each father, too.

Anonymous said...

"If it's a matter of ensuring that the manuscript arrives there, send it with Delivery Confirmation."

Ah, my favorite method of delivery on April 15 and at every quarter. The IRS doesn't think I'm that special either, but I don't care.

Leanne said...

When the ms arrived at the agency they would send the post card letting you know they'd received it in tact.

Ha, I knew something was wrong with the world, that must be it, we no longer have tact...

the dude said...

is that joke supposed to be funny?

Anonymous said...

I live in Spain and FedEx delivery here is shite. It's took one parcel 3 MONTHS to get here last year from the USofA. I also have a parcel on its way from Hong Kong. It sat in FedEx's office for around 10 days before I called them to move things along.

UPS and DHL work much better in Spain.