Going Postal (About Shipping & SASE’s)
Today I went to my P.O. box and found a bunch of manuscripts I’d requested. And as always, a couple of them had been sent Priority Mail or even Express.
Here’s my advice: Don’t waste your money! Only send it Priority if the agent or editor has asked you to. Otherwise, sending it Priority is not going to affect how quickly I’m able to review it. And don’t send it Priority because you want it to “stand out.” Here’s what happens: I go to my P.O. box and I get all my mail. I open all the packages, discard the packaging, then take all the proposals & manuscripts back to my office and put them in my “to be read” stack. So the fact that yours arrived in a special red-white-and-blue box doesn’t help yours look any better than the rest. My advice: a plain envelope or box, and the cheapest shipping possible. (And incidentally, I think most agents would say the same thing.)
Now about those SASE’s…
The conventional wisdom for the last several decades has been that if you want a response from an agent or editor, you need to include an SASE with your submission. But we live in a new time. In these days of electronic communication, everyone has a different way of dealing with things. Some still require SASE’s, some don’t. It’s important you check the Submission Guidelines of everyone you’re querying. For WordServe, I’d like to suggest the following:
If you send something through the mail, forget the SASE and instead, INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS. There’s no reason for us to waste trees and for you to waste stamps. Much easier for all involved—and easier for those of us who keep our records electronically—if we can communicate by email.
Only include an SASE if you want your entire submission returned: proposal, sample chapters and/or full MS. In that case, make sure you enclose an envelope large enough to hold it, and enough postage to cover it.
With any agent or editor, if they like what they see, they’re going to want to communicate with you immediately in order to see more, or discuss possible representation. So you definitely want them to be able to reach you by phone or email or both.
So, make sure your phone number and email address are clearly visible on all communication. This is important no matter who you are querying.