Saturday, January 10, 2009

If You Receive an Airborne Contaminant in the Mail... Is It Potpourri?

Regarding envelopes and address labels, does it really matter if we tri-fold our query and/or short manuscript versus sending flat in a larger envelope?
No. As long as we're talking about no more than about five pages. Past that, it takes such force to fold them that they will not unfold fully on our desks.
Does it really matter if we very neatly hand write the addresses on the envelope versus using printed labels?
No. As long as "very neatly" does not mean "give it your best shot". If you sometimes write things down quickly and later cannot read your own handwriting, that means you have terrible handwriting all around, and should use a computer for all your business correspondence.
As long as what's inside is neatly typed and professional-looking, do editors care what the envelope looks like or if there is a fold or two in the pages?
No. As long as an SASE is reasonably tidy, fits the manuscript, and is easy to use, nobody cares what else it is.

What editors are trying to avoid are:

1. Envelopes of any size folded so many times that they refuse to unfold fully, so that stuffing them becomes a job for three hands.

2. The manuscript and/or SASE that have been stapled together (extra irritation points for stapling them through the stamps). I should not need a special tool to separate your ms from the envelope, nor have to spend time repairing your envelope where the staple tore it.

3. The two-hundred-page manuscript with the leeetle envelope clearly meant for a greeting card. If I need origami skills to figure out how to put my A4 letterhead into your envelope, we're both out of luck.

4. The SAS box-within-a-box to hold your treasured oversize archival scrapbook presentation, plus ribbons and glitter. I know your picture book proposal is special to you. But if it isn't special enough on plain paper, it's never going to be special enough to publish.

5. The manuscript and/or SASE that is dirty. Why is it dirty? Who knows? All I know is: the only way to disinfect paper is to recycle it.

6. The manuscript and/or SASE that smells. I don't care what it smells of.
(a) If you are a chain smoker or have one in your home, make a copy of your manuscript at Kinkos and ship that copy from the same Kinkos. Paper absorbs scents. You can't smell it, but your manuscript reeks.
(b) If you have a penchant for incense, ditto. If I never get another sandalwood-scented pile of paper, it'll be too soon.
(c) Do not spray your favorite perfume on your manuscript. Have you noticed how your favorite perfume is not everyone's favorite perfume? There's a reason.
(d) And for god's sake, don't pack your manuscript in potpourri. This is the slush equivalent of hazardous waste. I will personally hold the fire door open so that the intern doesn't have to break stride as she runs it down to the dumpster.

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

When I was shoveling the driveway this week, a car drove past on the far side of the road. As it did, a cigarette stench wafted along behind it. I felt like I was standing in an ashtray.
I don't know how much that person smokes, but I wouldn't want to be invited into his/her home.
I guess it's just common sense that scent would affect perception, but haven't notice anyone comment on it before.

acpaul said...

I will try to remember never to write, print or envelope from work. Few things can top an ICU for stench.

Oh, wait... I only query by email.

Verification: suptack. It's, you know, a super tack kinda thingie.

Clare K. R. Miller said...

"But if it isn't special enough on plain paper, it's never going to be special enough to publish."

Ah, I like the way you put that. I've heard suggestions both to put it on special paper so it sticks in editors' memories and to keep it as plain and professional as possible. The latter always made more sense to me. Now I know why.

BuffySquirrel said...

Secondhand books sometimes arrive here with the strangest smells. Usually a short period in isolation solves the problem!

Dana said...

Dangit- *packs away glitter and potpourri*

Seriously... I don't think I would have hair if I were an editor.

Jena said...

A proofreader I worked with once (emphasis on "once") was a heavy smoker. He only did one issue -- I still gag remembering the ashtray stink wafting out of the envelope. Gah.

trax said...

I made a trip to the library recently and came home with a stack of YA books. Each book reeked in its own 'special' way, one so badly that I had to wash my hands every time I put it down. Ick.

trax said...

I recently made a trip to the library and came home with a stack of YA books. Each book reeked in its own 'special' way, one so badly that I had to wash my hands every time I put it down. Ick.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for answering my questions, EA. You are, as usual, generous, informative, and evil. And thanks for making me feel somewhat less neurotic about my choice not to use printed labels or expensive large envelopes for a two page PB submission. Now to cancel that shipment of sandalwood pot potpourri...

A faithful Anonymati

B. Nagel said...

That clinging ashtray stench isn't just foul, it could be harmful. I've seen a few articles in recent journals about what is being called "Third hand smoke." Basically, a thin layer of crap settles on everything. So if you lick your thumb to turn a page or eat a sandwich with out washing your hands, you are ingesting cigarette smoke. Gross.
I know it proves nothing, but the top google result points to the New York Times.

Word Verification: dersitra
At first glance I thought it was Desiderata

Ebony McKenna. said...

I feel your pain.

Ebony McKenna. said...

On the subject of slush, the other day I had an inkling of how you might feel ...
I was in one of those warehouses, where published books go to die. I found some good reads in there, amongst the teetering towers of unsold stock.

After an hour and a half of walking through the forest of books, I lost the will to go on. There were several aisles I hadn't even walked down, but my arms were full.

Those unwalked aisles might have had the best reads in the world, but I just couldn't face looking at any more books.

Graham said...

Just a point of clarification: shouldn't the singular of Anonymati be Anonymatus?

Anonymous said...

Or would it be, a faithful Anonymata?

Yes, I think that's right.

Deirdre Mundy said...

I'm still somewhat dubious about the EA as evil thing.

"Please don't send me things that stink. They give us all headaches and we're REALLY hate to throw out your precious manuscript."

Yeah. Real evil. What's next?

"Please don't cut me off in traffic! You know, it really kind of almost irritates me when people do that!"

Editorial Anonymous said...

I said I'd take suggestions about evil, but so far there haven't been many.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Trying to be more like another, unnamed, anonymous editor means being less of the wonderfully snarky and polite anonymous editor that you are. And you attracted your faithful anonymati being EA.

I can't stand perfumed magazines, walking into an elevator or stairwell right after a smoker or heavy perfume wearer. Just like burnt popcorn and fish in the microwave, smells travel and not in a good way.

Anonymous said...

Ah, how I remember those days of innocence, when my biggest worry was how to send a ms or query.

Good times, huh?

Now my worries are much more depressing. Like I'll probably never get published. Why oh, why do I constantly read about editors that sign someone up for a glorious two book deal the day after that same editor has rejected my ms?

That's cruel and evil. Have you done THAT lately, EA? You probably have. It's better that you remain an anon. Less hatred directed at you that way.

I'm not having fun anymore. Can I quit writing and still come to this site for the snark?

Joe Iriarte said...

Ooh, as long as you're answering picayune questions . . . I prefer to send my submissions by priority mail. It probably costs more than sending it first class, but I don't have to buy envelopes, everything fits easily, and I can take care of everything at the post office--it just saves me time and trouble, which are more precious than money. And it's my money anyway.

Unlike, say, Express Mail, nobody has to sign to accept Priority Mail.

So how much of a goober do I come off as? Is it terribly uncommon to receive submissions this way?

Editorial Anonymous said...

A little bit of a goober. ;)

Joe Iriarte said...

:angst:

;)

Anonymous said...

What about hand-written thank-yous on a nice card? I mean, I like to send them out if someone looked over my portfolio in person, or gave me a critique at a conference or something. But I've often wondered if industry people prefer everything typed, even thank-yous.

Editorial Anonymous said...

As long as it's legible, handwritten cards are fine.
Just remember that the editor may have completely forgotten your name, so the context of your meeting out to be in the card.

bootsandbibles said...

This post reminded me of one of the odours that fantasy/sci-fi fans have to put up with regularly:

http://www.nationmaster.com/encyclopedia/Cat-piss-man

Unfortunately, the website where the term found its origins has disappeared.

Still, it could be worse for you EA - you could be a fantasy/sci-fi editor and have to deal with that!

Deirdre Mundy said...

I can't even walk down the detergent aisle at the store without getting a massive sinus headache......

And we found out on Christmas that my daughter has a MAJOR incense allergy.

I guess I should tell her not to work in publishing. I should probably tell her than anyway, though, so she can make enough money to live!!! =)

Btw, EA-- any opinion on the news that the Carus publishing group has stopped paying their authors??? Should this cause a major freak out on our parts, or just a minor one?

shell said...

any opinion on the news that the Carus publishing group has stopped paying their authors??"
*****

Jesus, so what are they offering them? A bucket of apples? Shiny trading beads?

christine tripp said...

Jesus, so what are they offering them? A bucket of apples? Shiny trading beads?

No, just the "Opportunity" to be publshed with them, they know their magazine names hold the power over most authors and illustrators. Waiting a year for payment doesn't seem to be an issue.
I think too I have heard they are using previously published illustrations and stories etc to save money I suppose.

Deirdre Mundy said...

I have a contract with them on a poem they haven't published yet...

I'm trying to decide if it's worth the effort to try to get out of it..... (rights to a poem I'm not particularly attached to vs. trouble of writing stern sound letters when I could be working on my WIP...)

Also, how long will they keep their prestige if they're not a paying market?

Ms Baroque said...

Hi, just wandered in from somewhere and am struck by Dierdre's comment. I can't understand wny you'd want to "get out of a contract" to get your poem published! Where? Cricket?

First of all - I'm a poet - poetry doesn't pay. Most reputable poetry magazines, the ones that publish numbers of poems, don't pay. Or they pay an honorarium, which is a word indicating that they know it isn't enough to count as proper paying! More mainstream magazines like the Times Literary Supplement or the New Yorker etc will pay, but they are unlikely to publish children's poetry.

Poetry magazine in Chicago pays, but they were left a ridiculously huge bequest by a rich patron a few years ago.

However, even on that basis, you do see the names of well-known poets in these publications. Why?

1. It keeps people reading your work. If you have a book coming out it helps to publicise it.

2.If you are unpublished in book form it GETS people reading your work.

3. If you aren't well-known as a children's poet, a credit in a respected magazine is a great credit and should with luck help to pave the way to other credits.

4. I would also think a string of magazine credits would also help to persuade a potential agent that you were really serious as a writer, and that you were engaged in a task of reputation- and readership-building - which will ultimately sell your book.

5. Most poets would in any case publish individual poems in magazines as they write, and then acknowledge all the magazines in the book when it comes out.

When I was starting out, I used the acknowledgements pages of carefully chosen poets' first collections as a guide to where I should be sending.

By the way, I also write book reviews and criticism. Wherever poetry is mentioned you will most likely find incredibly erudite, well-read people working very hard indeed for the privilege of getting $100 for 5,000 words.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Ms. Baraoque---

I guess I'm spoiled, because I'm used to getting paid for my poetry AND prose... and usually on acceptance.

The Carus group also has a VERY restrictive contrat. They buy all rights forever. So I'm not crazy about giving my rights up and getting nothing in exchange.

Plus, if you sign a contract with someone promising to pay and then DON'T, that's pretty scummy. So some of it is just moral outrage on my part-- I don't like being taken advantage of.

But, on the other hand, it IS only 25 dollars, and I've really drifted out of the poetry phase of my writing career. Thus the question of whether it's even worth it, time-wise, to complain.

Mostly, I don't like signing a contract for one thing but receiving another.

And if I'd KNOWN they weren't paying, I wouldn't have subbed to them-- I'm trying to build an eventual career here (25 year plan...)

Hence the problem. Yes, Carus group is very prestigious now... but will they STILL be after they stop paying?

christine tripp said...

Plus, if you sign a contract with someone promising to pay and then DON'T, that's pretty scummy.

It's also a breach of contract but it seems they are not worried about illegal activity on their part.
I just think it's always sad that any company makes enough money to pay their overhead, themselves but tells the "sub contractor" there is just no money left for you... when there would be NOTHING without the sub.
A magazine without text and illustration would be... well, empty pieces of paper, right?

Jasmine said...

Thank GOD someone said something about smokers and their manuscripts. I've gone home with a headache many a day. Ugh.