Two In One Day
Today I received a couple of fiction queries for Howard Publishing. In general, I try and process these queries fairly quickly. As an author, I always know I’m interested in hearing back from the editor. It’s not always possible to answer in a short amount of time but I handled the two queries fairly quickly today.
Ironically each of them were similar. Neither one contained a mechanism for the editor to respond. That’s commonly known as an SASE or Self Addressed Stamped Envelope. Instead of an SASE, many people are including an email address. Either one is fine for the editor to respond. It is the responsibility of the author to give the editor a way to respond. Why? Take our current postage then multiple it by thousands and you will see the unbudgeted and out of control expense for a publishing house.
As a writer, I’ve included a SASE or email address and not received a response. It happens for a variety of reasons. Some editors aren’t as conscientious to respond in a timely way to their email or mail—and other editors place their priorities on other areas of the work. If you include the response mechanism and don’t receive a response, what are the chances of getting a response if you don’t include anything? It’s a huge long-shot from my view.
One of these two queries came certified mail. That means instead of 37 cents (the increased first class postage), this author forked out $4.42 to get a signed receipt verifying the arrival of the query. Yet this same author didn’t include a mechanism for me to respond. The second query simply came without a response mechanism.
I had pity on these two first-time authors. I could have logged their queries and toss it. Instead, I stuck a couple of stamps—along with a postscript to my form rejection letter. For the author who sent her query certified mail, I encouraged her there was no need for that type of expense—but she did need to send a means for the editor to respond. For the second letter, I added these words, “You are missing something important—a way for the editor to respond—commonly known as a self-addressed-stamped-envelope or SASE. It is the author’s responsibility to include this means of response. If not an SASE then I suggest you give an email address for a response. You gave nothing. It is an unbudgeted expense that can add thousands of dollars. So…if you are not hearing from publishers in response to your query letters—that is the reason. Keep at it.”
The effort took me a little extra time but it felt right to help educate a would-be writer. I rarely receive these types of query letters (ones without a means to respond)—and last year I received over 500 submissions for six to eight possible spots on the fiction publishing schedule at Howard Publishing. I hope and pray each of these authors receive my help with the right attitude. I certainly gave it in the spirit of helping.