I received an email recently from someone freaking out because she forgot to include an SASE with her submission, and it made me think about all of the times I think authors freak out post-submission. Let me try to quell some of those fears.
SASE Problems . . . If you sent the submission to BookEnds, never fear. Simply email the agent in question around the time the response time is up and ask if they’ve gotten to it. You could also email our assistant at firstname.lastname@example.org. Assistants know all. If they have responded and you didn’t receive the SASE for some reason, the agent can simply let you know via email what her answer was. Usually if we are requesting something more we will email that request (as long as there is an email address on your letter). Some of the SASE problems we have seen include forgetting one altogether, putting our address in place of yours on the envelope, not including enough postage (even before rates go up), or not putting your address on there correctly at all.
Query/Cover Letter Problems . . . If you forgot to include crucial information on your cover letter there’s not much you can do about it right at this moment. Write it off and keep your fingers crossed. However, once you receive that response, don’t be afraid to requery with the new and improved letter. While that can be a drag for me as my queries go up and it’s the same letters over and over, it’s great news for you. Why not? What do you have to lose? That being said, I would only query the same book twice. More than that and you start to become a strong memory.
Envelope Problems . . . I’m amazed how many people panic because they forgot to put “requested materials” on the outside of the envelope. Well here’s a good piece of information: No one here cares if it’s marked “requested materials” on the envelope or not. We only care what the letter and materials inside say. So make sure your letter says that the materials were requested, but don’t worry about the envelope. I never see the envelopes myself anyway.
U.S. Postal Service Problems . . . This should come as no surprise, but if your package arrives postage due we won’t pay for that. It’s going to come back to you. The same holds true if your package requires a signature. I will sign for it if I’m here (as will everyone else), but if the mailman isn’t able to track us down or doesn’t feel like it, those packages can often be returned too. Do not require signature and make sure you have enough postage on the package you’re sending. There are plenty of ways to track a package without requiring signature.
Revision Problems . . . If your material has been sent and has arrived and you suddenly decide to do some serious revisions, it’s usually too late as far as I’m concerned. I can’t have my interns, assistant, or me spending half of our days replacing submissions. Make sure what you send is the absolute best it can be. If you receive a rejection from me and the book has been completely, entirely reworked, feel free to re-query and start the process over. In this case you will need to tell me it’s a re-query. I have to say, though, that it’s the rare case I’ll want to take a second look.
That’s all I can think of for some of the common problems I’ve seen. My best bit of advice where all of this is concerned: Don’t stress. Just the other day, in fact, when submitting to an editor, I accidentally emailed the wrong file. Oops. I sent an immediate reply with the new file. Mistakes happen, we all make them. Try not to sweat the small stuff, as they say.