I think the stages of a writer’s career can be measured by envelopes. Or rather, what you write on the outside of the envelope. When you start out querying agents and editors – you first use the good, heavy envelopes. I mean, you want to make a good impression, right? And those envelopes match the high quality paper you’ve printed you query on.
Then…you start using the cheaper envelopes. I mean, they just get tossed in the trash, right? And while the guy at Office Depot clicks his heels together like a leprechaun when he sees you coming, the wench at the post office growls at you, sniping that this is exactly why businesses have their own postage meters. Like what are you thinking, bringing mail to the POST OFFICE? Geez.
Then, you get that first request. Someone wants to read more than your letter. And you’re supposed to write, “Requested Materials” on the envelope! Yay. Requested. (Still does not impress the lady at the Post Office, however.) These simple words prevent your book from ending up in the slush pile – that dreaded unsolicited, toppling stack of papers hopefully some intern will soon read. Your stuff ends up in a different pile, the requested pile. I’m not sure what other writers do, but I wrote those words in big, red block letters. Just so there was no mistake.
Then… you get an agent. And believe it or not, you still might send a hard copy of your book through the mail. And now you get to write, “Client Manuscript.” And you don’t want to be too obvious, this time you use a blue marker. (And not just because your kid stuck the red one in his jean’s pocket and put it through the wash, making the tans a very pretty pink.) So what’s next?
Rumor has it that the envelope containing the huge contract from the publisher is something to see. I’ll let you know – mine should be here within the next couple of weeks. If the lady at the post office doesn’t burn it first.