Sunday, June 14, 2009

Oh, I Am Newly In Love

With this blog. Seriously. Go read.

And it makes me think perhaps there should be a touch of balance after the post The Intern Thinks She's Found Something below.

It's true that as authors, you shouldn't count on interns having any power.

Let us be sure to remember, though, that interns are not worthless. (Indeed, my office would quickly be awash in a backlog of work none of the editors have time to do without the (forever blessed) intervention of interns.)

And while some interns will not go on in publishing, I would need my fingers and toes to count the number of fully-grown publishing professionals who I happen to know worked their way up from internships. Me included. (No doubt there are many more among the people I know; I just don't know it.)

And as authors, you should always, always be nice to interns and editorial assistants. They're low on the totem pole now, but give them a few years and they will be in a position to kick your butt for being a jerk to the interns and assistants beneath them. Fyi.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hmmm... At first it was amusing and then I kept scrolling down.

If this is what you feel like as an intern in publishing, good God, why be in it? How can you be that burnt out already when you haven't even been down the driveway of your career, much less around the block?

That's the difference between writers and interns/soon-to-be-editors -- writers have to be earnest and incredibly willing to be stomped on while they make something as shiny and publishable as possible, and then, if they do get an agent (or God forbid a book deal), have to kiss ass constantly and jump through hoops so they're not labeled difficult to work with. From this example it seems that interns and those with paying jobs at publishers get to walk in already feeling superior and hating every fucking writer alive, and it's somehow cute and understandable.

Editorial Anonymous said...

Oh, I didn't take it that way. Both hopeful writers and hopeful editors have to do a lot of work--and suffer a lot of powerlessness-- to get to where they want to be.
__________________________
I didn't get the sense from the blog that this intern hates writers.

But I can speak from experience that it's easier to have bad feelings about writers when you're an intern-- because most of the writers you're exposed to at that point are from the slush. As I've pointed out, those of my readers who are in the slush are the cream of that crop-- because a lot of the slush is DREADFUL.

Once you get promoted out of the lower ranks, you'll have the joy and privilege of working with some sweet, sane, and very talented writers who will utterly redeem your sense of who writers are. I get regular phone calls from an author who makes my day every time we talk. By god, how lucky am I?

Being an intern is supposed to be an inoculation against how hard publishing can be. Because it can be damn hard.

If this intern is working through some of her perfectly natural stress on her blog, that's ok. It's only important that she work through it so that she can keep it under control until she has the writers who will make her life easier rather than harder.

Colorado Writer said...

Thanks for passing this blog addy along. Very interesting stuff.

Nancy Coffelt said...

I didn't take it that way either. One of the reasons I like to read editor and agent blogs is that I get a view from the other side of the fence.

I've been doing this writing thing long enough that I've had ALL sorts of feelings about the process and even about some of people I've worked with or more commonly, about people that chose not to work with me. Fools. :)

But since I don't blog anonymously, I don't rant in public. But if I WAS anonymous, would I be tempted to vent, spew, and try to be half as funny as this gal sometimes? Why yes, I believe I would.

All parts of this business have their frustrations, right?

INTERN said...

INTERN not burnt out!

INTERN a ball of smouldering writerlove! No hate lovely write-creatures!

Pedal is to the floor in super highway of Publishing Career!

In carport of life, INTERN is bicycle pump!

peace to earthlings. alphabet useful :)

Anonymous said...

Quote: "...If this intern is working through some of her perfectly natural stress on her blog, that's ok..."

Of course, the blogger is free to do whatever she wants. But I do find it interesting that writers are always taught from day one not to take anything personally. Ever. Or the business itself will kill you. Form reject on a full? Don't take it personally. Do a huge rewrite at an editor's request, which they keep for four months only to reject without feedback? Don't take it personally. Your own agent doesn't answer your emails/send anything out on time/follow up on subs/but does give up on your ms after one inadequately small round of subs? That's just business, don't take it personally. Etc, etc... yet an intern gets to take nameless, faceless SLUSH personally? As if someone is actually insulting her? THAT'S the part I don't get.

It's probably just me, though. It usually is.

writer said...

Why does everybody in publishing want to be Miss Snark when they haven't even been IN publishing?

It's like signing yourself up to be a playboy centerfold when you're not even out of your training bra yet. Bad comparision, but still...

Bonnie A said...

Clever style--yes, indeed. But this jab left me feeling more wounded than amused:

"Publishers frequently make up a fake 'acquisitions editor' so they can tell which submissions are solicited or come from informed sources and which are coming from people who've found them in Writer's Market . . . it's an instant tip-off that whoever sent it is not in the know. Bing! Into the slush pile, where your intrepid unpaid intern will skim it, send you a signed rejection letter and forget you exist."

I'd heard stories (yours?) about the fake editor made up to deflect stalker types. But this just floored my naive little heart. Say it ain't so--or that it's just in the bad ol' adult market!

Sigh.

I know this has been addressed before, that it's unnecessary to attach a name, and certainly no guarantee of special handling. I've just always thought it common courtesy to acknowledge the person behind the title.

If true, the entrapment angle to this practice seems so agressively cruel.

ggwritespoetry said...

I actually enjoyed reading THE INTERN's blog... she is hilarious... and I felt the love.

Jane said...

I was an editorial assistant at Random House UK. The very bottom of the rung. I got the calls nobody else wanted, waded through the letters and submissions complete with pictures of cats and smiley faces in the margin ('my children loved my story of Casper Carrot and his Carroty Friends') and several times a day, a large beeping reversing truck would dump about 3000lbs MORE of unsolicited manuscripts on my desk. About once a year I showed my then boss Tom Maschler a manuscript. He was probably the only person in publishing who could steam roller a children's book into publication if he liked it enough. I got a lot of angry phone calls from writers who didn't understand why their illustrated book on organic vegetables (who come to life!) wasn't being rushed into print.

Then I moved up to Junior Editor. Then Editor. And began to work closely with published writers. EA is right. Publishing is hard and working in publishing is a long hard slog. My time as an EA didn't sour my attitude to writers but I did think that it wouldn't hurt if a few of them visited a publishing house and just got to see what we did all day. I totally understand how upsetting and frustrating it is for writers. But it's not about making a book 'shiny and publishable' - it's about being good enough and original enough. And 98% of the stuff I saw just wasn't good enough. When I was an editorial assistant I didn't feel superior to writers or hate them. My heart would lift when I saw something that had potential. But as EA says the vast amount of stuff on the slush pile is appalling - really really bad. A smaller amount is ok but just not great. I did end up thinking that if writers spent less time worrying about how to get their writing out there and more time writing they might stand more chance of getting published.

Haste yee back ;-) said...

I've fallen bald-head over backpassage fer the INTERN...

Love the sense of humor and hope she keeps tellin' it straight outta da pig pen, er, (slush pile)/editorial back-slappin,' window gazin,' thumb twirlin' meetins...

Why, I even took the nekkid-lady outta cousin's Leroy's nekkid-lady pen cuz of respect fer her!

Made Leroy honk his two boards missin' flat-bed truck horn, too!

Careful now, don't let them big city ways turn ya inta somethin' ya ain't! And remember, raw fish is bait.

Gitty up, girl!

Haste yee back ;-)