Do you think an editor/agent would get upset if I said in my query letter something to the effect of: "Please respond via SASE if you would like to see more, otherwise no reply is needed."? I've come to the conclusion recently that I'm tired of lame form letters/emails. Why waste your time and mine and the letter carrier's? After 2-3 months I just assume it's a no anyway and gradually forget about it. Forgetting about it feels a lot better than actually being rejected.
Evil Editor had the same attitude after his colonoscopy. I told the doctor not to bother sending me the results unless it was good news. Two weeks later I was on the phone, begging him to tell me the results got lost in the mail. He said I was fine, he just wanted to see how long I could hold out without calling. We had a good laugh over that.
Don't worry that agents/editors will be upset by your note. In most cases your rejection slip will be safely sealed inside your SASE long before they reach your instructions to withhold it.
Perhaps the best solution to your problem, one that eliminates the anxiety of worrying that your acceptance letter has been lost in the mail, is to send two SASE's. Label the rose-colored envelope "Acceptance Letter," and the black envelope "Form Rejection Slip." Enclose a smiley face sticker, with instructions to the editor to affix it to the black envelope if he has scribbled a personal note of encouragement or advice in the margin of the rejection slip. Your instructions should be at the beginning of the query, to ensure the editor sees them. The query would read:
Enclosed are two color-coded stamped envelopes and a smiley face sticker. Should you care to request my manuscript, please contact me using the rose-colored envelope. Use of the smiley face sticker is optional on this envelope. If you don't care to see my manuscript, please advise of same using the black envelope. In this circumstance, use the smiley face sticker only if you've written a note on the rejection slip to the effect of, "Not quite for me, but try me again."
Also, if you wouldn't mind, please return the envelope you don't use inside the envelope you do use so that I can reuse the envelope you don't use. Oh, and I'll be discarding the black envelopes with no smiley face sticker, without opening them, so be extra careful not to put an acceptance letter into the black envelope.
One more thing: should you decide to contact me by email, please use the subject line "Good News from Luxor Publishing" or "Bad News from Luxor Publishing," depending on which it is, so that I may delete the latter without opening it. And should you decide to contact me by phone, let it ring once, hang up, and dial again if it's good news. Two rings, hang up, dial again will be bad news, in which case you'll get my machine, on which I've recorded instructions on what to do if it's really bad
news, or mildly bad news.
The book is available upon request. May I send a partial or the complete manuscript? Thank you.