Thursday, April 10, 2008

Ok, I just don't get this

If you send me a query on paper, and don't include an SASE, and you want a response by email, why don't you query by email first?

If you don't have an SASE in a snail mail query, I toss it.

Why would anyone do this?

Feel free to enlighten me.


Julie Weathers said...

Well, I'm pretty good at solving puzzles, but that has me stumped.

Your query guidelines are pretty specific and easy to understand.


M. G. Tarquini said...

I dunno. Makes no sense. I used to send process servers along with a sheriff's posse, then had them hang around until they got an answer.

Kaz Augustin said...

I'd consider this the norm for writers outside the US. They can get local stamps for the letter IN, but where do they go for US stamps for the letter OUT? Everyone is saying they're sick of IRCs and refuses to take them. I'm still trying to figure out how to buy US stamps from half a world away (not that I'm anyone who would query you, btw).

It's a non-trivial issue for us foreigners.

KingM said...

Probably most of the time this happens you're simply dealing with a bonehead, but I'll bet that a non-trivial minority simply made a mistake.

I once mailed a story to myself and was quite disappointed that it seemed to come back almost immediately until I saw my own handwriting. Oddly, I ended up doing it right and selling the story.

There have been a couple of other times that I caught a mistake just as a submission was about to go out. I'll bet that there were a couple of times that I almost caught the mistake, but didn't.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

After my recent experience with a certain historian who shall be nameless because he may sneak in here and see this: Clue-less-nesssssss!

Umm Hi Bruce ... How's aunty today? Better?

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Me: Bill, your talking funny.

Bill E. Goat: I gotth a sthamp sthuck to my tunnge

Me: Huh?

Bill: (swallows hard) I sent a querry to Janet Reid. I tried to include an SASE, but the stamp stuck to my lips and then I kinda swallowed it ... She will email me, right?

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

umm pixies can't spell: you're*

jjdebenedictis said...

I'm still trying to figure out how to buy US stamps from half a world away (not that I'm anyone who would query you, btw).

The United States Postal Service sells stamps online and I believe they ship anywhere. Hit the USPS website.

Lorra said...

There are some agents that request that no SASE be included in a snail query because they only respond by email. (Yes, including to snail queries. Honest.) Maybe the poor soul was just confused.

It's a little like the myriad ways they've configured the credit card machine at the check-out: no two have the same combination of steps. Me thinks the agents might be in cahoots with the credit card machine trolls.

Kaleb - said...

they drank too much bubble bath solution that day

Twill said...

Ummm. Let me try.

I know in my case, I wouldn't want prospective clients to try to read my handwriting scribbled on the back of their query letter.

You are going to open your computer and type a response of some sort. You will type in the writer's contact information.

Then you are going to print it, get it together with the right SASE, and put it in the mail.

Is this intrinsically easier than taking that same typed response and putting on an email address rather than a mailing address on it?

Janet Reid said...

Lorra, that makes sense. Maybe I won't be so quick to toss them next time.

KingM said...

Lorra is right, every agent seems to have her own protocol and it's easy to muff things up. Problem from an agent's standpoint is the sheer volume of stuff that arrives every day.

I did a little slush reading several years ago and I know that your motivation quickly becomes to look for reasons to reject a story as quickly as possible, because there's a whole enormous stack still waiting for you and more that will arrive as soon as you get up to go to the bathroom. And frankly, your odds of getting something good that comes on onionskin or in a three ring binder are some tiny fraction of the minuscule odds that any manuscript already suffers.

B. W. Schulz said...

Dear Niece,

Your mother suggested I shake myself awake from one of my frequent naps long enough todder over to my computer and view your post.

Aunt Shirley is doing well. She's recovered from her cold and has returned to work.

Old age and cluelessness have overtaken me; I've already forgotten why I'm here. Perhaps it was only to say, "O mihi praeteritos referat si Iuppiter annos." Or perhaps it was to remind you that having changed your diapers a time or two, and having changed the diapers of your children -- Damn. I've lost my thought. Old age and cluelessness have taken their toll.

Give me a call when you read this.

And abject apologies for omitting the envelope and the stamp. I'm sure I would have forgotten to address the envelope had I included it.

J Scott Savage said...

I know this is an older post and you might not even see this comment, but I had this blog post forwarded to me since I am vocally anti-SASE. Here's my question.

You mention that you take e-mail queries, which would have been the easiest way to contact you. But
let's say you didn't take e-mail queries.

What would you think of a querie that gave you e-mail, phone, adddress, etc, but stated that it was not necessary for you to contact the author unless you were interested in seeing more of their work?

My stance is not that an agent or publisher should be required to use their own postage. But rather that, unless the author collects rejection slips for some wierd pleasure, it's easier on everyone to just say, "Call or e-mail me if you'd like more of my work." If I don't hear from you, I can assume you are not interested.

Heather B. Moore said...

Possibly a "newbie" and the writer doesn't know what a SASE is (I've been asked before at Writer's Conferences). Or the writer thinks that you'll call or email if you are interested--most of the time rejections only come in SASE. So they assume if they aren't called or emailed then the answer is no thanks. I can't remember the last time I received a request for more material in a SASE. They are usually phone calls or emails.

Janet Reid said...

Scott, that's fine if you want to do that. I don't read your pages if you do, but if you want to send stuff using your own guidelines, not mine, I'm not going to waste any time worrying about it.

To my mind not including an SASE in a written query says a couple things:

1. guidelines are for other people not me
2. none of your mail would ever dare get lost

And Heather, I've sent back all sorts of things in SASE's and in fact write "not no" on the envelope so you know to open it.

J Scott Savage said...


Thanks for the feedback. I understand your policy and that you have the right to reject anyone you want for any reason you want. I'm not definitely not encouraging people to break your rules.

I don't think I'm saying the rules don't apply to me or that my mail wouldn't get lost. What I am saying is that in a world where we are trying to save some paper now and then, and where we have easy access to e-mail, SASEs seem like an outdated concept. Publishing is the only industry I know of where the person trying to sell their product pays to hear that the buyer is NOT interested.

As you yourself, have pointed out in several recent posts, you will search high and low to track down a manuscript after a good query. Why not make it easier on you by giving you a good e-mail address to contact me if you’d like more information? And not wasting your time, money, and paper, if you’re not. I've seen several agents and publishers recently who have gone with a policy of not responding unless they are interested.

I’m sorry for ticking you off (especially on the Friday of a three-day weekend.) And ultimately this wouldn’t apply to me anyway as I have an agent and a national book deal. Thanks for the blog. It’s great.

Annette Lyon said...

I'm the one who sent Scott here to check out this post. He said he'd be willing to bet a steak dinner that you didn't even realize the query didn't have the SASE until you were looking for it to reject the thing. I say he's wrong.

Do I get a steak dinner?

Janet Reid said...

Yes, you do.
When mail comes in I open it, discard the envelope it came in, look for the SASE to use as the "holder" for the pages, then set it in a stack of incoming pages to be read.

If there is no SASE, I throw it away, unread.

I don't need to deal with people who can't be bothered to adhere to the guidelines at the VERY first stage.

Do I miss some good writers? Maybe. I'm ok with that. There are enough good writers out there who make it clear they are easy to work with.

Heather B. Moore said...

Great information! Scott and Janet, thanks for clarifying on both sides!

Annette Lyon said...

Great--thanks. I thought so.