Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Reply cards

Dear Rejecter:

I'm about to start sending query letters out and found examples of good and bad query letters on the underdown web site. One of the good examples mentioned "I have enclosed a reply card for your convenience." I've never heard of reply cards. What comes to mind is a postcard-like thing, self-addressed and stamped, with something like this:

Dear [Author]: we have read your manuscript and

___ you are a god. Please send us your MS immediately. P.S. We want to have your baby.

___ it might be right for somebody but please god, not us.

___ never submit anything else to us. The Hazmat teams totally trashed the place.

___ please settle a bet: which end of the pig did you pull your MS out of?

___ we have turned it over to the FBI, kiddie porn division.

But seriously: are these common in publishing? Can you buy them at stationery stores or should I make them up myself? Do I just leave them blank and let the agent supply the rejection text? Should I include only the positive response ("Please send us a copy of your MS.") or some negative ones too? Most importantly, are they a good idea or will they be seen in some mystical, inaccessible-to-industry-outsiders way as "unprofessional" (even without the humour)?

So I'm going to go neutral on this one. Comment cards don't generally annoy us, but sometimes they do, but not in a major way. And yes, we do get them from time to time.

Some agencies like to put a form rejection in the return envelope, and are annoyed when one isn't provided and they have to write their rejection instead (some people literally send a blank, SAS postcard). Some people don't find the humor funny (it usually isn't). On the other hand, yes, it is wicked convenient.

What is annoying is when an author provides various check marks, and somewhat literally, none of them offer us a rejection option. Then I have to write in a little "__x__ Thank you, but not for us" thingy. Don't be a dork.


Rick Bylina said...

Why didn't I think of postcards. I could have saved almost $70 on my 430 rejections!!

Anonymous said...

You got 430 rejections? Wow! You got guts.

Dennis said...

Rejector is right. I've received mixed reviews from my repsonse cards, but much, much better feedback when I put together a "response letter" in addition to the SASE. That way the agent could simply check off a box or write something in, place the rejection letter (it was always a rejection letter back then) directly in the envelope, and mail it away.

They usually ARE NOT funny, though God knows I definitely thought so. I found this out when I was in the position of Editor and on the receiving end of some extemely creative (I'm being nice) queries.

I think writers simply wish to display even more creativity, and see this as the perfect opportunity. For the last comment on one letter I put: "Pew! Pew, pew, pew...and peeeee u! This idea really stinks, Dennis. Even the envelope smells bad. When the mail got here, I asked myself, 'What the heck is that awful smell?' I had to check the bottom of my shoes."

I thought it was great. The agents were not amused. One told me that if I spent as much time on my query as the response letter, I would have a better shot.

- Dennis

Kidlitjunkie said...

I’m going to step in here and disagree. I hate comment cards. I really hate when the “no, we don’t want it” line reads “I am not interested because ____________”

I always have the urge to write “you suck!” on that line. (Don’t worry, I never actually have, and never will.) It feels like it’s fishing for a personal rejection letter. I’m not interested because your query/submission didn’t catch my interest. If it caught my interest enough to tell you why I don’t want it, you’re getting a real personal rejection on stationary.

I also hate it when there’s a section on the comment card that reads “I am not interested, but I think _____________________ would be.” I am not going to tell you who else in my house to submit to. Do your damn homework.

We have a form rejection for a reason. It’s so I don’t have to write on comment cards.

Oh, and never, ever omit the SASE because you have a stamped postcarded comment card in there. Personally, I've never really seen the point of the status postcards when enclosed with the original query ("This MS was recieved on ____") 99% of the time, I will mail back my response to you--be it rejection or request for more--within the same hour that I mail back that silly little postcard.

Anonymous said...

I currently have a query out to an agency whose website says if they don't want to look at any pages, you'll never hear from them. If they weren't such a good agency, I never would have sent it...I hate this mode of doing business. I'm not worth a simple, "No, we're not interested" form letter?

Sheesh. Never again will I sub to an agency that can't be bothered to respond if it's a "no".

Anonymous said...

Some agencies do this on their own, form rejections where they check off a box for the reason.

Anonymous said...

From what I recall when I used to query, self addressed stamped post cards were typically used when you sent a requested partial or full so the agent could let you know it arrived in tact.

Heather B. Moore said...

I've never sent a response postcard. Good to know they aren't favored.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, that card made me laugh.

writtenwyrdd said...

OMG, this is hilarious. Mind if I borrow your example for my submissions? Heh.