Monday, June 4, 2007

Beyond the Valley of Good and Managing Editors

If nothing happens in certain months because editors are busy, and nothing happens in certain other months (e.g. August and December) because everyone's on vacation, when the heck does anything ever happen?
Please don't confuse "nothing" with "nothing that affects you". I simply cannot tell you how much there is to do in every one of my days (and weekends) that is not (1) editing, (2) replying to authors and agents, or (3) reading new submissions.

Remember the kitchen full of slush that you kindly imagined for me a while back? This time, imagine that same kitchen, but where all the slush is, imagine paperwork that needs filling out, internal emails that need sending, sales materials that need building, flapcopy that needs writing, schedules, p&ls, etc, etc, etc. And now imagine a black-leather-and-stud-clad Managing Editor standing on top of those piles with a fiery whip.

We're getting stuff done, I swear. During those times of year when there are pressing distractions and time out of the office, we're getting a bit less done, and that means that projects that are not yet officially ours and thus have no schedule get shorter shrift. And you'd offer them shorter shrift too, if the person managing the schedules was going to flay you alive if you missed one more deadline.


Anonymous said...

Hmm -- this has to be the stuff of great story -- a pointy-shoed whip cracker, anxious author, a calculator weilding agent and semi-sober, exhausted editor climbing over a kitchen of slush desperate to find the last of the dry vermouth. She can't get to it because the stacks of paper won't allow the door to open. She cries, is whipped, the calculator is thrown at her and the author stands back, wringing her hands, saying, "But me. What about me?"

Thank you, thank you for persisting in playing out your role in this tragic tale.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Your posts always confirm my suspicions about the "glamourous" world of publishing:

That it's like working in an administrative office at a university, only MUCH MUCH WORSE.

Which is why, whenever my SASE is returned unstuffed, or something gets lost, or someone takes to long to reply, I think of all those times that I made those EXACT SAME MISTAKES with malice towards none.....

(Actually, I've recently decided I don't mind the "No SASE. don't call us, we'll call you" rules...

It saves me time, money and worry..... If I don't hear back in the time stated, I just assume my submission never made it out of the slush, fill in the appropriate box on my spreadsheet, and send it somewhere else!

It's a lot easier than follow-up calls and paying return postage to get a dull (though often nicely watermarked) rejection slip that will just end up in my kids' scrap paper pile anyway.....

(Though the three-year-old is upset about the decrease in interesting bits of scrap paper....)

Anonymous said...

Well, I kind of feel the same way (about not needing to include a SASE) EXCEPT some of those editors at those publishing houses are still responding if you include one. And sometimes they say interesting/helpful things, so I still include one anyway.

CJ Omololu said...

The image of the leather clad Managing Editor standing atop the kitchen slush pile has completely distracted me for most likely the rest of the day. Thanks for the visual ear worm.

angelarene said...

Is the leather clad managing editor with a whip...cute?

Editorial Anonymous said...

She has red hair, a nice figure, and the face of ultimate despair. "Cute" doesn't enter into it.

"...semi-sober, exhausted editor climbing over a kitchen of slush desperate to find the last of the dry vermouth...(etc)"
God, I love you guys.

Stephanie J. Blake said...

So, This is a stupid question and yes, I have queried the piece to death, but I still can't sleep at night.

A full of my MG has been with 5 different editors at 5 different houses (and 1 agent has a full) for several months with NO RESPONSE.

I am not hallucinating as I still have all of the requests in writing. Yes, my email is working, but at this point, the postage rates have changed on the SASE.


Is my manuscript in a corner somewhere? Has it been riding around in the trunk of a car. Is it holding up a desk? Has it even been opened? Is an assistant using it as a coaster? Did the editor post my book on the bulletin board as an example of what not to do? Did it go to acquisition, editorial or whatever they call the meetings? Are they working on a P&L and talking it over?

What is taking so long?


And, I must say, you are taking over the void left by Miss Snark! Thank you.

rilla jaggia said...

No, no, no, don't give editors the wrong idea. The land of the missing SASE is a lonely landscape of phantoms and maybe's...Maybe my manuscript never arrived there in the first place, maybe it got misplaced in the kitchen slush, maybe it got washed down the garbage disposal BY MISTAKE.
There is something worse than a rejection -- the rejection that never was. At least when the SASE arrives back at the SA, you have closure. You know it's time to stop checking the mailbox everyday for that particular MS. And there's nothing better to soften the blow of rejection than a nice note -- we like your writing style but this is not what we're looking for right now. Or -- We really liked a) b) and c) but d) needed work.
No please don't give editors the wrong idea about doing away with the SASE. A large number of us writers LOVE them. Life as a writer is lonely enough without that little bit of communication from the LAND OF THE EDITOR.

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