4/20/06

Please Include a SASE

Got an unsolicited manuscript. (Our website clearly states query first.)

It's not a genre I publish. (Website also states what we're looking for--again, very clearly.)

No e-mail address in the query. (Ok, not everyone is connected. I'm not in the Writers Market so if the author doesn't have Internet, I can overlook those first two errors.)


And no SASE.


Can I just say that including a SASE says to me that you're professional and respectful?

Not including a SASE does not kill your chances with me (as it does with some others in the business), but I do wonder why it's not there. Are you uninformed? Are you being rebellious? Do you have poor short-term memory? Or are you just cheap?

Or maybe you intended to include a SASE and were mortified to find it still on your desk the day after you mailed your submission.

Because the latter has happened to me, I will respond to your submission sans SASE in a polite and professional manner. But for those of you who may be thinking a #10 SASE is not necessary, please, think again.

4 comments:

Jeff Savage said...

Great BLOG. You make some excellent points and provide some much needed information. Just wanted to add my two cents to a couple of your recent posts.


SASEs

How did the concept of paying for the opportunity to be rejected find its way into the publishing market and nowhere else?

I've interviewed and hired hundreds of high-tech professionals over the years and not once did someone leave me a prepaid envelope to notify them they hadn’t been hired. They didn’t even drop fifty cents on the desk to cover the cost of a lousy phone call.

My daughter was recently asked to the prom and nowhere in sight was a prepaid envelope just in case she wanted to tell the guy no thanks. (Which, fortunately she didn’t.)

I don’t even get a prepaid return envelope with my utility bill. I have to pay the bill AND postage.

So why would I want to pay someone to reject my manuscript. Do I expect you to pay for every rejection you send out? No, that wouldn’t be fair to you or me. But, see the thing is, if I don’t hear back from you, I can feel pretty darn confident that you didn’t want to publish me. And the sight of the envelope I addressed and paid for showing up back in my mailbox with your form rejection does not make my day. “Oh thank goodness, I was afraid they might not reject me.”

I’ve published three LDS novels and currently have a national ms. being shopped around by a very successful literary agency. And the only SASEs I sent out were the ones I received rejections in. Somehow, my agent and publisher were able to look past the lack of a SASE and call me on the telephone to tell me that DID want to accept my manuscript.

Why don’t the authors and the publishers/agents strike a little bargain? If I don’t send a SASE, you don’t have to send me a rejection. And if you DO want to publish me, my phone number, e-mail, and snail mail address are right there at the bottom of my letter?

It’s already happening, more and more publishers and agents are accepting e-mail requests, and some publishers are actually requesting that no SASE be included. They will contact you if they are interested. It works for me.


Magic and Mormonism

I think you and I agree on this, but just wanted to clarify. Some people seem to think that Mormons should not be writing fantasy at all. And that anything magic must be of Satan.

Mormonism and Magic should not be included in the same novel, because the two elements can not remain side by side without the one confronting the other. “Hmm, do I pray for this or should I just wave my wand? Maybe I could just pray my spell will work effectively?” I tend to feel the same way about true hard boiled mysteries and Mormonism. I really don’t want my sleuth figuring out the mystery through divine inspiration.

On the other hand, we believe in worlds without number. Who’s to say that what we view as magic is not perfectly normal on another world. I believe Mormons should feel free to write fantasy, SciFi, mystery, romance, and even—heaven forbid—horror. Our belief of good vs. evil and opposition in all things, along with our understanding of the eternal nature of mankind almost begs us to write novels that explore the vast universe.

LDS Publisher said...

I don't know who made up the SASE rule. And if everyone were like you and just assumed no reply meant "not interested" I'd vote to drop SASEs altogether. But in my experience, most people think no reply means I didn't get the query.

And if there's no SASE, I always send the rejection on my nickel because I did the math once. It costs 50 cents to send the letter. If they call me to see if I got their submission, it takes 5-10 minutes of the secretary's time to answer the phone, look them up in the log, tell them they were rejected, then forward the call to me because the author insists there must have been some mistake, I couldn't really have intended to reject them, then another 10+ minutes for me to politely say, yes, I really did reject you...

And because I'm a penny-pincher, and I'd rather put my pennies toward publishing and promoting the authors I do accept, I'm still going to do all I can to convince authors that they really NEED to include a SASE.

(Personally, I think we should drag all writers and publishers and editors and agents--kicking and screaming, if need be--into the 21st century and do it all via e-mail.)

Jeff Savage said...

(Personally, I think we should drag all writers and publishers and editors and agents--kicking and screaming, if need be--into the 21st century and do it all via e-mail.)

I'll grab their feet if you take their hands.

Sariah S. Wilson said...

I just had this conversation with some nationally published writing friends of mine, and several of them conveyed that they got important documents from publishers or agents in their SASEs, like Heather Grothaus who received her agent's contract in the SASE (and was convinced she had been rejected yet again).

If an agent or publisher say they want SASEs, I don't understand why anyone would shoot themselves in the foot by not sending it. I don't consider it an invitation for rejection. I consider it a sign of professionalism - that I researched and understand the publisher's guidelines and wants.

There's so many things that editors and agents have pet peeves about that I want to avoid getting on their nerves if I can.