As a service to an author who isn't in it for the money and who can afford my rates, I'm putting together queries for a nonfiction book I edited (his secretary will do the printing and mailing; he will sign the letters himself--big of him, I know). I'm dutifully checking the submission guidelines for each and every agent on the list I've assembled so far, with every intention of following the instructions to the letter.
Then I come to this one:
"SASE – Due to new postal regulations, all self-addressed envelopes must follow these guidelines. Use postal stamps only. No metered mail. Envelopes must be addressed and include our address as the return address in the top left corner of the envelope. Use self-sealing envelopes."
How anal can an agent get? Yeah, sure, if I were the author, I'd probably just go out and buy special envelopes and do the return address thing, too. But geez, don't you people even have rubber stamps you can use for the return address? And you can't wet a gummed envelope with a sponge? Gimme a break!
Bottom of the list, dude. Plonk!
OK, I know you think it's anal, but its only cause I'd burst into flame from your enraged glare that I don't have this on MY site too. I LOVE it when people send self sealing envelopes, the ones with the pull strips.
The meter mail thing IS a rule at the post office. I drop SASEs in the box with meter stamps all the time, but I have NO idea if they get back to the querier. The thing about meters is they have dates. You meter an SASE and it says I mailed it the same day you mailed your query to me. You'll need to be writing more than science fiction to make that happen.
The only thing I think is weird is having the agent's name for the return address. I'd rather you put your own, but again, I've read in the comments column from people that the post office does require that.
And for a general comment on the overall obsessive nature of agents, trust me on this, this is a quality you WANT in an agent. You want someone who researches what works, tells you about it up front and makes it easy to understand what they need. Careless, slipshod, and "it'll all work out" are not things you want to say about the person negotiating your contract.