Should I Send Queries Via Certified Mail? No!

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Hi, Angela:

I sent a story (to a magazine) via the post office, certified mail, to make sure it got there, and no one claimed it. It was sent back. I sent an email asking for their mailing address and it was where I had mailed it to. I sent another email asking about it, and in the email I got back, I was told that certified mail is not accepted, and to send the story via email. The guidelines specifically state that emailed stories are not accepted. I sent another email stating that, and never heard back.

Yours,
JM


Sending query letters via certified mail is unnecessary, and creates an instant feeling of distrust (meaning it’s clear the writer does not trust the publisher). A writer who sends a query or unsolicited manuscript by certified mail is saying, “I don’t trust you to respond to me in a timely manner so I’m forcing you to accept delivery of my submission whether you want it or not.” Or, the writer might be saying, “I bet you’re going to later claim you didn’t receive my submission so I’m sending it certified so you can never deny it.” In this case, the writer also does not trust the publisher. This type of instant friction is a huge turnoff for editors and publishers.

Magazines see this type of writer as high-maintenance and, of course, distrustful. These individuals tend to make more demands than others, and have unrealistic expectations about the writer/editor relationship (i.e. expects instant responses to emails, wants a word-by-word list of edits that were made, and demands to approve them, will email the editor if the check is only one day late, wants to editor to email them the exact day the story is published, etc., etc.).

It is, quite frankly, a real pain to receive certified mail. The mail person leaves you a green slip, you must sometimes go to the post office to pick it up, sign for it, etc. Again, it’s completely unnecessary when submitting a piece for consideration. So, I’m not surprised that magazine has a policy against accepting certified mail.

If you feel the magazine isn’t responding appropriately to you, you should submit your piece elsewhere. I suspect, for the reasons above, they may not be responding to you because you used certified mail in the first place.

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