True, within the bowels of my mailbox was most likely a form letter addressed to Dear Author. Still, what excitement there was in seeing my SASE returned. It proved to me that the submission process worked. There was an amazing slush-pile warrior who had received my manuscript sample and had read it. She had taken my SASE into her hands, placed a rejection letter into it, and had mailed it back to me.
Happy dances always ensued.
And sometimes, a glorious thing occurred--out of that SASE popped a personal, rejection letter! One that told me that not only had the slush-pile warrior read what I had sent, she had sent it "upstairs" to an editor's desk! It meant a real, live editor had read my manuscript sample and had taken the time to write me back. How amazed I was at seeing an editor's name in the form of a real-ink signature at the bottom of those letters.
Those letters often contained words of encouragement like "Enjoyed your writing very much" or "Loved your voice"!! There were reasons for my turn-downs like "We published a similar title last year" or "Your word-count is too low." But what I loved the most about those personal rejection letters is that they often concluded with super-sweetness--"I'd love to see more of your work!"
Happy Irish jigs always ensued.
But now, years later, some of those editors are not in publishing. Some of their houses no longer accept unsolicited manuscripts. And, for the most part, those that do accept unsolicited manuscripts have submission policies that state they will respond only if interested. They tell us, please do not include a SASE.
Where, oh where, have the slush-pile warriors gone? Does anyone know? Will someone tell them they are sorely missed? Will the warriors please, pretty please, return to manning slush-pile SASE's?
Until then, it is what it is, a once-in-awhile personal email. Well, at least I have these gorgeous autographed letters to re-read. Maybe I'll re-mail them to myself. There's an SASE idea to get me dancing and Irish jig again, if only I can kick that high.