SASE-itis

…which sounds like Sassy-itis, doesn’t it? Of course, it means Self Addressed Stamped Envelope. Agents and editors who still accept hard copy partials and fulls always request the author include one of these little puppies along as well so they can send you a reply.

For those who want their pages/manuscript returned, the author needs to include a large enough envelope that’s stamped with enough postage for its return trip.

And here is where my post begins. Back when I still accepted hard copy partials and fulls, almost all of them included the large stamped mailer that indicated the author wanted his pages back.

Erm. Do you REALLY want them back?

Hey, this costs money, yanno!

Yah, I know. Copying partials and fulls can eat into one’s ink and paper budget, or make Kinkos even richer. But there are some things that just don’t recycle well, and manuscripts fit that category. And think about it. You don’t recycle your gum, do you [yeech]? Once it’s chewed, you spit that out, where I will invariably step in it and play glued-sole-to-the-sidewalk and looking quite brain-addled.

Even though printing off numerous copies of your partials and fulls costs money, you really don’t want your pages back because agents and editors tend to beat them up. We stuff them in our bags and read them on the plane or train. Errant beagles nibble the corners just to be ornery. They have smudges all over. I remember the time I spilled red wine over half the manuscript and was horrified that the author wanted it back. Ohdearohdear. Then there was the time I made all kinds of comments in the margins only to find a large envelope indicating its return trip. Whoopsie.

First impressions are the most important

And what’s the point of returning them? It’s not like you can reuse them. Or rather, it’s not like you should reuse them.  I remember receiving a well-traveled first three chapters – complete with notes made by another agent or editor! Now really, what am I supposed to think?

It’s like when I go to writer’s conferences. At the office, I dress like a bag lady. I’ve been known to make some important deals in my pj’s. And my teeth weren’t brushed. Gross, I know. But when I go to conferences, I’m dressed to the nines – though I wear comfortable shoes, unlike that Morgan woman, who will suffer back trouble by the time she’s fifty.

I dress nicely as a show of respect for the event organizers, who paid my transportation, food, and hotel bill, and the authors, who paid big bucks to be there. I want to create a good impression with those who don’t know me. Besides, my mother would slice and dice me if I dared show up looking like a bum.

Well guess what? Your fresh, crisp manuscript conveys the same message. If you don’t care, why should I?

Cheap is as cheap does

There are times when you need to suck it up. Printing costs are part of the query process  Back in the day, if I got an ABU [Already Been Used] manuscript, I wondered whether the author was being green or was financially under the weather. Yah, sure, I appreciate the green thing just as much as the next guy, but there’s a time and place for everything. Do you want to make a political statement or sell your book?

I suppose I’m making a big deal about all this, but it’s only because I see this as a continuing problem. Really, just let it go. Let the editor or agent recycle your work and include a stampted #10 envelope, and be done with it.

4 Responses to SASE-itis

  1. catwoods says:

    Good point. Presentation is everything–especially when we’re hard up for representation. A hard copy is like a first date. If it looks schleppy, follow-ups are hard to come by.

  2. E. A. Brass says:

    I would never want one back to use it again, but if I thought you lot might indeed margin-note the heck out of it, you’d better believe I’d be interested in the detailed notes of a publishing profressional! It would be the best personalized rejection ever.

    But, no, I really can’t understand turning around and sending that copy back out there. I’d feel pretty embarrassed sending out something that wasn’t pristine, especially if it had someone else’s notes (or wine, or smudginess) all over it. “Here’s my manuscript covered in all the reasons you might reject it, too. It’s also now an enhanced book manuscript, because there are food stains on page 34, which features a feast scene. There is an animal attack on page 48, which I sprinkled with margarita mix; could you get your beagle to chew it for my next submisson? Thanks so much!”

  3. Pelotard says:

    Hey, the guidelines say a SASE large enough for the MS, this is what I send. When I get it back (and mind you, trans-Atlantic flights seem to be populated by relatives of the Beagle who aren’t properly fed) I invariably bin it. If the guidelines say it’s OK with just a small SASE for a reply, this is what they get. And my fave, of course, is the email submission. But I’m not going to send anything they don’t ask for 🙂

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