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.


Mindy Tarquini said...

How long until the first minion mentions that one should just mention the SASE, but save the stamp and cost of the envelope by failing to include it, thus giving the appearance of knowing how to follow directions without incurring the expense?

Oh wait. That minion might have been me.

Anonymous said...

As an agent has pointed out, do be sure to remove that particular sentence when cutting-and-pasting into an email query. (tee hee)

Benja Fallenstein said...

Even cheaper would be inquiring by e-mail when the hell the editor is going to get off their butt and reply to your query, without ever sending it. You can mention that they've had it a month longer than their guidelines say to wait before inquiring. This way, you can give the appearance of knowing how to follow directions without incurring any postage.

Anonymous said...

I'm one of those people who's forgotten to stick the SASE in the parcel. How embarrassing! Must say, the agent was very forgiving, and gave me a detailed and very helpful critique of my full before sadly rejecting it. Sigh.

Evil Editor said...

Nice, Benja. Wish I'd said that.

Anonymous said...

So Benja:

I'm reminded of the old joke about the guy who always got on an airplane with a bomb, on the grounds that the odds of their being two people on any plane with bombs were so small it wouldn't happen.

In other words, if the odds of having an editor want to read more of one's book are tiny, why bother actually sending the query?

Of course, it's the hope that maybe, just maybe, this time will be different that keeps people buying lottery tickets.

Perhaps EE should sell query tickets? For only $1, people can submit query letters and have a chance to have their query be the one pulled from the lottery to be mocked, er, critiqued and strengthened.

Anonymous said...

Shirley, kis, you jest! For *I*, and *I* alone am fool enough to have sent a query and sample chapters out to TWO (yes, two) agents, only to realize (a full week later and during an innocent nap on the couch) that my SASE for each remained on my desk.

And though I reside a full coast away from said prospective agents, and they know me not from Adam Cartwright, I felt compelled to pull a blanket over my head and mumble incoherently to myself.

I hold little hope of being lumped in with Columbo or Einstein.

Joyce Ellen Armond said...


"Dear Evil Editor:


Best Regards,


Enc: SASE"

Anonymous said...

Hey, specrom, that's not bad! It feels a little like a holdover from the days when secretaries initialed their bosses letters (having done the typing), but it'll do.

-A, who hasn't got a secretary

Anonymous said...

Ah, midnightmuse,

I'll go one better:

There's nothing like the lurch your stomach does when you wake up at 3:00 am two days later, to realize you didn't put "requested materials" on your partial, despite the agent's clear instructions. With an SASE, at least you can send it, with a little note saying where it belongs, and with photos of you on your knees, hands clasped in the throes of desperate supplication. When you forget to write RM on your partial, you get to live with the fear that the agent is just going to toss it unopened, thinking you're an idiot cause you can't read "e-queries only, no sample pages."

And not only do I reside on the opposite side of the continent from 99% of agents, I'm marooned on the northernmost tip of an island in Canada. No writer's confernces for me.

Is it any wonder writers drink?