Friday, February 22, 2008

Save Money, But Not Too Much

Encountered a bunch of these today:

(1) Do not send a post card query with your novel's website, unless it has a postcard SASE, and those don't exist. We will not check your website. We will not even like you very much for your total lack of effort. If you invest postcard SASEs and they move into general circulation as a product, we can talk.

(2) That said, there is no need to spend more than 82 cents on a query unless you live out of the US or this is an old post and the price of stamps has gone up. 41 cents for the original, 41 for the return. If you want to include a synopsis or the first 5 pages, you can get them into a regular envelope. There is no need to waste money sending the query a special speed, through a courier service (it's been done), or sending it in a nice presentation folder that cost you $5.00 to send. We only care about your manuscript and how you describe it in the query. It will go into the pile like everyone else's when it arrives, so save yourself some money and don't bother. For a letter envelope, the rates are:

Ounces and Cents Above 1 Ounce/.41c







Really, if you're going to be submitting, query widely, and don't spend a lot of money doing it if you don't have to. The rejections will not sting so badly if you're not down a hundred bucks.


Anonymous said...

With the prevalence of email queries, this whole topic almost seems to be a moot point.

I just sent 15 queries; 1 of them was by snail mail. And for that, I used a 9x11 plain white cheap envelope, which costs a bit more, but that way the paages don't have to be folded, which must make for easier reading. At 1 snai mail per 15 queries, if I end up sending 100 queries for this project, that's about six 9x11's at a coast of about $1.10 each. I can handle that.

The Rejecter said...

Yes, if the agent accepts email queries, by all means - do it.

green_Knight said...

The return postcard would have tickyboxes for 'sorry, no' 'send us a partial' and 'send us the full NOW' ?

Formulating a rejection letter is harder than it sounds...

Anonymous said...

I don't think you've ever heard the story of the agent who signed the author of "Bridges of Madison County". I know, it doesn't happen often. But sometimes it does. She was sitting at her desk one afternoon when the author called her on the phone. Yes, the phone. She could have given him a detailed account of the postal rates at that time, but she didn't.

So unless you're receiving a truck load of these post cards with web addresses from potential authors, it might be in your own best interest to check a few of them out. You never might get a big book out of this.

And no, I have never sent a post card with my web address to an agent or editor, nor have I phoned them unless they phoned me first. But if I were an agent, and I received a post card with a web address I think I'd check it out. It would probably have taken just as much time as writing a post about postal rates.

The Rejecter said...

Yeah, that's a famous anomaly story. The difference is the author still went to the agent, and didn't require the agent to go to the author. If you don't have time to summarize your novel in a paragraph or two for us, we don't have time for you.

Aimless Writer said...

I would think its in our best interest not to piss off the agent who might some day represent out books. Shes says no postcards, okay, no postcards. (If everyone linked to their websites the agent wouldn't have time to do anything else!)
In the beginning I probably did most of the stuff she discribed. Through researching agents I'm finding out that writing a good query and following the submission guidelines is probably your best way in.

Deb said...

What I wish would happen (and yes, I already realize it won't) is for a standard query to evolve. You know, like the same one-page query, two-page synopsis and first ten pages. That way all you have to do is change the name of the agent & agency, switch "Dear Mr." to "Dear Ms." and fire it away.

But no. Agent A wants a two paragraph cover letter. Agent B insists on three. Agency C needs 3 chapters but Agency D will chuck your submission immediately into the recycler if you send them more than one.

This is part of the reason some of us are so reluctant to submit--you spend inordinate amounts of time figuring out which version of the proposal for one place, and an altered version for another...all while you'd rather be writing the next book anyway.

When they elect me queen, there'll be a standard query format, and it'll all be e-mail to boot. Bleep the postal service.

Elissa M said...

The price of first class US stamps is going up a penny in May, for those who haven't heard. I've invested in a pile of Forever stamps already.

Heather said...

If you are the author of "Bridges of Madison County" or "Eragon", then by all means ignore policy and do things your way.

The fact of the matter is, you're not, so don't. You're not the exception. You're going to ruin your chances based on a one in a million anomaly that happened to a phenomenal book you didn't write, otherwise.

On second thought, you do that. Less competition for those of us who DO know how to follow directions.

Anonymous said...

I think I see the reason for this post now, so strike my original comment. Sorry, rejecter....

Colt Foutz said...

Good tips for concentrating your efforts on the text of your query and not "over-frilling" the presentation. You're right about people investing their hearts on a level equal to or approaching the money and time they spend decorating a special folder or sending it special delivery, etc. When what really grabs agents and editors is the original idea, the polished work, efficiently stated and professionally presented.

This is a business with so much volume and so long a lag time, it's useful to remember that your energy is best spent on the work. The postal service will get it where you want it to go. And if it languishes in a slush pile there, well, there are other doors to knock on.

Anonymous said...

Not into sarcasm, eh, Heather?

Anonymous said...

Heather, if one is the one who will beat Potter, then wouldn't it be interesting to see which agent inadvertently accepts the brass ring?

My personal choice is Miss Snark, though I don't have a clue how to reach her.