And no one told me!
I only found our last month when I went to our local post office in Normandy to send a short story to F&SF. I asked for a coupon international de reponse and was met with a glazed expression. And, for once, it was not because of my pronunciation.
"Je suis baffled," she said - I translate approximately. She knew what an IRC was. She'd sold them. In the past. But ... it had been such a long time ago and Mr. Verne hadn't been in for a while...
So, off she went and searched the shelves, the back room, her coat pockets. Then checked her computer and asked a colleague. Gallic shrugs all round. "Nous sommes tres baffled."
Perhaps Alencon might have one? Or Paris?
I drove home and toured the net, checking the web sites of the French Post Office, the Royal Mail, USPS. No mention of IRCs anywhere. And then I found someone's blog. Apparently IRCs were discontinued a year or so back as they were costly to administer and only used by authors submitting work overseas.
And yet they're still mentioned in magazine submission guidelines. I know, I looked.
Never one to give up until a hospital is involved, I tried option two: buying US stamps online. This looked a winner. For a while. There were several companies offering 'print your own US stamps' services at reasonable prices. But half an hour of screens and fine print later I found the only way I could subscribe was by pretending I lived in the US. Which is undoubtedly illegal. Of course, being extradited to the US for mail fraud would be a good opportunity to buy US stamps but...
Option three also looked a winner for a while. I could buy stamps online from USPS. If I bought at least 20. All I wanted was one 90 cent stamp! And the postage and packing for twenty 90 cent stamps was $6. So one SASE was going to cost me $24.
Now, if I intended to make a habit of sending stories to the US, fine. But I'm not. So, I plumped for option four. I emailed my nephew at Yale and explained the situation. Extradition on mail fraud imminent - send 90 cent stamp immediately.