Postage Due…

This week, I could continue to rant about the nasty emails we sometimes get in response to rejection letters, like the one yesterday that suggested the author should put a part of his anatomy up a part of mine because I failed to see his genius (I wish I was making this up). Instead I want to rant about something else: the Post Office. Our submissions guidelines state that we only accept electronic submissions, but a few times a week we receive queries to the P.O. Box. Because I understand that authors do not always get our contact information from our website, I do try to answer queries we receive via the mail. That is, unless they come postage due…

Truth be told, I suspect this is usually not an author’s fault. The woman at our post office weighs every package that comes in, even the ones where the postage has been printed by another branch. If the package is even slightly overweight, I get a yellow slip telling me I can rescue the package for a small fee. I once asked, given the postage had been printed by another branch (and thus the package must have been weighed), whether the package was really overweight. I watched the package as the woman dropped it on the scale from eight inches in the air. It bounced twice before settling on the scale, which promptly displayed the package was two-tenths of an ounce overweight. Busted…

It has gotten to the point that I receive so much mail postage due to the P.O. Box that I have taken to having it returned to the sender. I’m hoping that enough people will complain that there was, in fact, enough postage on the envelope that eventually the Post Master will do something about it.

This is one of the reasons we recommend electronic submissions. Think for a moment what needs to happen if a query is sent using the US Mail. First, you need to make sure there is enough postage on the envelope so that it won’t come postage due. Let’s say that, for an average query, the cost is around $3.00 for postage (I’ve had some full manuscripts come with as much as $8.00 of postage on them). I often send queries to anywhere between 2-5 people for review. Thus, I need to have 2-5 copies of the query photocopied and then incur the additional $3.00 per package to send them out for review. Thus, just for me to review your query is going to cost all parties concerned $10-$20. I suppose I could scan the query and create a PDF to mail out for review, but that takes time which could be spent on other things.

I often get asked what authors can do to stand out during the query process. This is unfortunately one place where authors stand out in the wrong way. When I receive a query that requires a large amount of handling to send it out for review, the truth is that I’m much more critical of that query because of the cost both in time and money. When I receive a query that is a scanned PDF of a typewritten manuscript, the first thought that goes through my head is “transcription costs.” The best way to make a good first impression is to follow our submissions guidelines and send your query electronically as an RTF file. If nothing else, you’ll be assured it won’t be returned postage due…

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2 Comments

Filed under For Authors

2 responses to “Postage Due…

  1. Margaret Seymour

    I sent a query and never received any reply at all. It made me wonder if I should send again, thinking perhaps it was lost, or give up. It was quite a while ago, so I don’t remember details, but I usually follow directions. Please advise.

  2. Hi Margaret – As much as I try to ensure that this doesn’t happen, if you didn’t get a reply it means either your query might have gotten lost in the daily shuffle or that our reply went to your spam folder. I always suggest that if you haven’t heard from us within two months of a query you should feel free to contact us and inquire about the status (we try to process queries within a month of receiving them, although we are a bit behind right now). If you are still interested in submitting your query you should send it again to my attention (Ken Tupper).

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