Lost in the Mail: Going Postal in Scammer Land

A quick addendum to my previous post about “Why I Can’t Sell Your Book…”

The first and foremost line of excuse for any scammer is usually the poor, oft-blamed, and benighted US Postal Service. My husband, a retired postal worker, and s.f. writer, reminded me that I left this one out.

I’ve seen emails from Kelly O’Donnell/Martha Ivery where she strung some poor scammed writer along for weeks with repetitions of “Well, I can’t understand this, I mailed your (galley proofs, check, release from contract, manuscript, artwork, you name it) six days ago! The post office must have lost it!” I’ve seen her claim that the post office lost no less than six attempts to get the writer their *whatever* in a row before the poor writer twigged that they had been “had” and wrote to Writer Beware to complain.


I’ve actually had a check from my agent get lost in the mail. Once. In twenty + years in the writing business.

So, if the agent or publisher you are dealing with winds up blaming the Post Office repeatedly for losing mailings, it’s time to take a look at the agent/publisher with a jaundiced eye.

On a personal note, we’re snowed in here. Good thing I stocked up on foodstuffs and cat litter. Tonight I’m going to cook spanish, mini-meatballs in saffron-vegetable sauce, over saffron rice.

Hope all of you East Coast readers are snug and cozy warm. Have a great Sunday.

Next post, I’ll explode another Writer’s Myth. “You have to know someone in the business…you’ve got to have connections to get published.”

See you soon.

-Ann C. Crispin
Writer Beware


  1. Grat advice and I’m sorry you got all the snow. We upstaters didn’t even get a snowflake…It was sunny all day Sunday! ~sigh~ I love a good blizzard!!!

  2. Hi Ann,

    I average about three items a year that go astray in the USPS system. The US postal system is great.

    Things I mail to Canada take forever, but they usually get there.

    I had one submission go astray. I had delivery confirmation on it. It fell off the face of the earth in Manhattan. They never found it. But, with the amount of mail that passes through the hands of the USPS, their service is amazing.


  3. Right, mail thieves watch in particular for manuscripts since they know those are worth millions.

    Truth is, most mail thieves want only checks, money, and clearly discernable valuables they can use immediately or convert into cash at a pawn shop. Like scam agents, most mail thieves wouldn’t know how to convert a manuscript into anything other than scratch notepads by using the backs.

  4. Yep, The good ol’ USPS is often made into the scapegoat. Remember that more than 98% of all first class letters eventually reach their destination or are returned to sender. It may happen once that a properly addressed missive goes missing, but if it happens more than once, look out.

    Lost e-mails can happen, too. They can be improperly addressed or caught in a spam trap, but if you’ve successfully e-mailed an agent before and now you try and don’t get a bounce message, the odds are pretty good that they got it within a few hours at most.

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