Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Q & A 27 Encl: SASE?
I'm troubled by the phrase, "I am enclosing a/an SASE for your convenience."
First of all, isn't it obvious, since the return envelope is stamped and self-addressed and fell out in your hand when you opened the query? Second, the sentence takes up space when every word counts. Third, it's such a stock phrase that I'll never understand how any creative person can use it without feeling that it has tainted the effort they put into the rest of the letter.
Yet many writers seem to feel obligated to close the query with those exact words, or an ever so slightly changed version thereof. Is the presence of the SASE really something that needs to be pointed out to you, and must we really tell you why it's there?
Actually, everything is obvious except your story and your credits. It's obvious that you are submitting a manuscript. It's obvious that it's for me, as the envelope was addressed to me. It's obvious that you look forward to hearing from me. Declaring what you've enclosed in an envelope is a standard business practice, however. And while Evil Editor would prefer to hear about your book, there are those who can describe their book in half a page. If they would like to add something obvious to help fill the page, it won't be a deal breaker.
It also won't be a deal maker, so if it bothers you, don't do it. But keep in mind that if you forget to enclose a(n) SASE, and there's no mention of it in your letter, the editor will think you are clueless about the protocol involved in submitting. She'll trash your letter without another thought. But if you've declared that you are enclosing the SASE that isn't there, the editor will assume you are merely absent-minded. She'll think, Hmm, G.K. Chesterton was absent-minded. Einstein was absent-minded. Columbo . . . I'd better have a look at the manuscript.