Wednesday, April 26, 2006


I've heard from a few aspiring authors that they read my blog (OK - I admit, I'm flattered) I also admit I'm not an expert in the publishing business, although I can say, with absolute certainty, that anything you've heard of has probably happened to me (Well, not the best seller but let's remain optimistic!) I've been accepted, rejected, scammed, insulted, praised, flashed, (Yes, you read that right.) published, dumped, edited and unedited. My publishers have: folded, just started, won prizes, been maligned, have made headlines, have been obscure. I've signed over twenty contracts (not as many as some of the gals I know, and more than others.) And through it all I've tried to do one thing:
Be Professional.
What doeas that mean to a writer?
Well, it starts off right in the beginning by Reading the Guidelines.
I'm always surprised when I read blogs by publishers, editors, and agents stating that so and so didn't follow the guidelines. It's such an easy thing to do. Read instructions. Follow instructions. And one of the first things they ask for is a SASE.
In this day and age of computer networks and online submissions and e-books, it occured to me that maybe an aspiring author would not know what a SASE is. After all, when I first saw the initials I had to ask someone (I think it was my friend Eileen who is a journalist) and she said it's a Self Addressed Stamped Envelope.
It's not a Save A Second Envelope, which some writers seem to believe as they send out their submissions without it.
A SAE is a self addressed envelope, usually accompanied by an IRC, which is an international reply coupon. (for those living abroad it is often the only way we can submit material, and I submitted all my short stories with their SAE's and IRC's in order to hear back from the magazine publishers, for example.)
Bring professional is not hard to do. It starts at the very begining of a writer's career with the guidelines. It's easy. I promise!


Wynn Bexton said...

Yes it is necessary (and easy) - sending an SASE. However these days it's a lot easier for some publication who don't mind submissions (usually in the body of an email) That is for articles or short pieces, of course. Saves a lot of postage on the IRCs. But it isn't always as efficient in some ways as it's too easy for them to hit the 'delete' button and not respond whereas, if they have the hard copy in front of them with the stamped envelope, even if they don't want to accept it they usually send it back with a nice little rejection note for your collection.

Bernita said...

Not much excuse for SASE, as you say, one asks.
But deciphering terms is a problem for the newbie, particularly in terms of genre.
My main advice is research, research and then more research of websites - eventually the meaning of any arcane terms filters down.

Cheyenne McCray said...

Too true, Sam. It's often the little things!

Jona said...

Not that I've evr written to a publisher, but I've never heard of a SASE. Things are often SAE - which I take to mean Stamped Addressed Envelope. Wonder if I've been wasting stamps ;o)

Nienke said...

There's been a lot of controversy about whether or not to send SASEs on various blogs this year. Some say why send them the envelope that will only reject you? I agree with you Sam, follow the rules! Don't give them any reason to reject you. I'm sure there are many other 'guidelines' and industry standards that people don't follow.

Daisy Dexter Dobbs said...

You’ve touched on a problem with monumental proportions, Sam. I’m always flat-out amazed at how many writers fail to ask questions, do research, or read and follow guidelines prior to submitting to agents or editors. This is such a crucial part of being a writer and why so many don’t bother or are too lazy to follow instructions and do their best to present themselves professionally is beyond me. Makes the rest of us who do our homework look a whole lot better by comparison. ;-)