Dear Who?

Oh, do I need some Snarky help on this one!

I read a book. A particular book, in which the main character reminded me of my own hero. Since the author had been kind enough to thank his agent, I dropped her an e-mail and pitched my book to her.

She replied she'd love to read the first 50 pages. Oh, and could I include a #10 envelope for reply; she'd recycle my pages if she didn't like them. (which we all know she will, 'cause she liked the other guy's book)

I mailed the pages. I mailed the #10 envelope. I've heard through the grapevine that she can be slow to respond, so I was shocked when I found my envelope in my mailbox this morning.

Inside, was a rejection letter... written to another person.

Their letter, my envelope.

So. The agent apparently hasn't made any decision about my manuscript -- or maybe she sent it to the guy whose letter I got -- but she also has no way to mail me a rejection, should it be necessary (which it won't be, 'cause she repped the book I read).

Obviously, the kind thing to do is send the letter to its rightful owner. But what do I tell the agent? Do I offer to check my pocket lint for the change to send another SASE? Do I forget her entirely because even though this error fits with the sensibility of my character -- not to mention the book I liked so much that she repped -- if she can't be more careful, she's not the agent for me?


First, this kind of stuff happens. It's not a sign of disorganization or cluelessness. It just happens. You do NOT mail the letter to the author. You call the editor. You say "a letter to so and so was sent to me by mistake. Shall I mail it back to you?" If her assistant answers the phone (and don't assume the person who answers the phone IS her assistant) ask the assistant cause chances are it's her mistake and giving her a chance to fix it without the agent actually knowing is a good deed.

If you call and leave a message and you don't hear back in a week, mail the letter back with a letter of your own saying "this was sent to me by mistake".

You don't need to send a new SASE. At this point, she owes you a stamp...at least.


Anonymous said...

This happened to me--well, kind of this. I received somebody else's complete manuscript and rejection letter. The other person's book was gay erotica...a whole lot of gay erotica. I emailed the author. He wrote back to thank me and to tell me that he'd be happy to have me read the book and tell him what I thought.

Anonymous said...

I received another author's royalty statement once. Unfortunately, not her money.

ryan field said...

Ah, well, Bonnie. You almost ruined my keyboard today.

Anonymous said...

Yep, happened to me. I found out a publishing house that had been considering my full for over a year had sent it (plus a rejection) to another author. She e-mailed to ask if I wanted it back and oh, by the way, did I happen to get hers?

And no, it wasn't gay erotica. :)

Unknown said...

I once received a script from Fox sent to me in Malibu from their studio in Century City. They wanted to know if I would do a quick ghost rewrite for them - but it arrived three months late.

The envelope had meanwhile been torn, shredded and then re-taped with a huge rubber stamp in red ink across it saying - Fund Unbound in Altadena - which is on the other side of LA County, nowhere near Malibu or Century City.

So I didn't know what worried me more; that my mail was suddenly being routed though... Altadena... or that they needed to have a rubber stamp in Altadena saying - Found Unbound in Altadena.

Mindy Tarquini said...

I once got audited for somebody else's tax return...

least, that's what I kept telling the judge.

Anonymous said...

Must be the water. I read of a similar situation on one of the writer's email lists and then the following week it happened to me. First I got a rejection letter and not my partial. When I contacted the agent asking for my material back, I was told they had shredded it already, so sorry. The next week my SASE showed with someone else's rejection/partial inside. Emailed the agent again: what do you want done with this? Answer: so sorry, what a mess, I'll post a prepaid addressed pouch. It came yesterday and I mailed the material back to the city where they were.

I know agents are busy creatures, Miss Snark, but my confidence in this one was shaken. Made me really question if they were up to the job of repping any of my work.

Not happy, Jan in Australia.

Anonymous said...

ha ha yeah MISS snark- i'll go to the yellow pages and get that editors number.

get real- in the real world these people make a serious effort to HIDE their numbers from the psycho masses.

your answer is from a school textbook that is oh so proper but not based in reality-

MAIL THE LETTER BACK directly to the editor and ask about YOUR manuscript= the end

you are so clueless sometimes snark that im SURE you are not a real new yorker

Miss Snark said...

The New York phone book, in fact, does list the telephone number of publishing companies. When you call, and ask to be connected to an editor by name, you get connected.

You don't need the direct number to make the call.

If you mail the letter back they won't have a clue why.

Anonymous said...

And yet, at conferences, I've heard agents and editors say things like, "If the query packet is not pristine, why should I trust the writer's capability? It's an obvious sign of trouble, and would result in an instant rejection."

I wish "these things happen" swung both ways.

I also wish for world peace and to win the lottery -- good luck, right?

ORION said...

Did someone say LOTTERY?

Anonymous said...

Well done Miss S for bothering to reply to rude anonymous. And better yet, advising the poster to get in touch with the possible assistant so she/he can clean up the mess without getting into trouble. A 10/10 result.