Saturday, April 16, 2011

Your SASE Is Wrong

Today while querying an agency via snail mail, I prepared my SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope for those of you who have only done e-queries). Normally I print them—the regular envelope and then the SASE. But my printer was semi-inkless, and having half-printed addresses on there isn’t exactly professional—or smart as the post office might lose them due to part of the address being illegible.

So I carefully wrote out my address and the agency’s address in nice, printed pen. I got my query together, popped it into the first envelope, and then started to put in the SASE. Then I realized something—the addresses were upside-down. Sure, they look fine on the front, but when you turn the envelope over you realize the opening is facing down.


I debated for a bit. It’s an honest mistake, and anyone has likely done this before. Most of the time we think, “Whatever” and send it out anyway. I mean, Aunt Em isn’t really going to care, is she? She’ll just be happy to get a letter from you. Or your best friend will just laugh at you when she gets it and then open it up and think nothing more of it.

But…an agent?

I’m running out of envelopes so it annoyed me that I’d pretty much wasted one. Was I going to shove an upside-down SASE in with my query? Okay, sure, there’s a darn good chance the agent wouldn’t care at all. They might think I hadn’t noticed my goof, or just think, “Big deal” and get on with life like Aunt Em and the best friend.

And yet, I didn’t shove it in there. No way. To me, it just smacks of being unprofessional…or just plain incompetent. Like having a typo on your first few pages (which I discovered I had a while ago—well after sending out a handful of samples to agents. Yes, by the way, I’d read it, I had three people read it, I read it again, and it still got missed). I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. It’s an honest mistake, but I want to make the right impression the first time. I’m not sure which agent might spot that and wonder about the person on the other end. It does seem kind of judgmental in a way, but I refuse to take any risks with agents.

So I got a new envelope, double-checked it, and wrote a new SASE and put it in. I’d wasted an envelope (well, maybe I’ll find some use for it…), but hey, at least now I don’t look like a goof to the agent I queried.

What would you do? Use the upside-down envelope or say, “No way José” and grab a new one like I did?


Charlotte Jane Ivory said...

At first I thought What? Of course I'd send it - no sensible agent would be so fussy as to care about THAT. But then you used the "p" word - or, rather, the "u-p" word: unprofessional. The query IS a business letter, and we only have one chance to make a first impression.

On the other hand, I was thinking that the agent would only see the SASE if s/he were returning your work, in which case you've already used up your first impression...

So, tough call to make! I'd probably err on the side of being anal-retentive, and fix them all.

Nicole said...

Yeah, that was pretty much my thought process. "No one's going to care, that's silly..........................I need a new envelope."

Rachel McClellan said...

I think you made a wise choice, however silly it may seem. In the "normal" world, no one would care, but you never on what grounds an agent may feel "offended". Don't you just HATE the querying process. Ugh.

Nicole said...

Yeah. It's one of those things where you pay such close attention to all the little details, you inevitably screw up on something else. (oh the irony)