manuscripts, manuscripts everywhere and not a drop to drink

Okay…. no one panic, but I’m feeling overwhelmed. Yesterday I went to the post office and picked up a client manuscript that is a few weeks overdue to the publisher. And they want me to read it before I send it on. At the point where this occurred, I was about 150pp or so into another manuscript that has already been delivered to its publisher, but the editor is notoriously slow in responding and the writer is freaking about needing feedback, so I really need to finish it sooner than yesterday. Plus — also in the same mail run, a full manuscript from someone with a deal on the table. I’d read the first 15pp in an email, but long ago made a policy not to take anything on (even if there was an instant commission, just add water) without being familiar with the writer’s work (based on a situation where I did the opposite and really ended up regretting it). Since this is a previously unpubbed author, I can’t fall back on my experience with their backlist. They want an answer from me by Monday. And, then, there’s this other manuscript from a client that I *really* want to read. There’s no particular pressure on this one other than my own need to respond, and the author’s theoretical interest in said response, which eventually will become a noticeable thing. I can’t offer it to the publisher until the current contract is fulfilled, so naturally it’s the one I’m the most intrigued to read for myself. I’m trying really hard to not even think about the backlogged requested submissions — those dates received stickers I use to organize them are starting to burn a whole through me. They are getting *way* too old.

Now, if only I could take the whole week off and read…. Stupid paperwork. We hates it. I spent 3 hours last night on reading with the realization that the current workload (which as of an hour ago increased by an additional 13 pounds of mail – mostly queries probably) likely means all of this reading has to occur outside of the so-called regular work hours of 9am-5pm. Hmm…. maybe if I sleep less…. because I can’t figure out how to read four manuscripts simultaneously….

This message brought to you by the need to let off a little steam. We now return you to the more recognizable publishing world where agents are inscrutable and mysterious. Heh.

13 responses to “manuscripts, manuscripts everywhere and not a drop to drink

  1. Hi 🙂
    You don’t know me but you’re a friend of a friend so I occasionally glance at the posts.
    I have a question. And this is coming from a person that’s in no way involved in the writing world. I’m a programmer so I type a lot…that’s about the only similarity…
    How in the WORLD can you read so much! And not just read it but pay attention so you can give feed back and edit and stuff??? I mean…I’m sure it’s just another job to you and it comes naturally but man…that’s just amazing to me.
    I can code for hours but it’s something I’m writing…and when I have to debug someone else’s code, if it’s boring code then it’s really really hard to concentrate. Same with a book. I can read a good book for hours and plow through it pretty quickly retaining most…but if the first few chapters doesn’t grab me…well….needless to say, it’s hard to finish. I’d think it’ll be the same for you too.
    Well, in anycase, I just thought I’d post since I was curious and impressed at the same time. Good luck with plowing through all that. If it means anythign to you, you have my deepest sympathies and I know how you feel….got a whole bunch of coding work piling up and up and up in my queue every day myself….9-5? HA!!!

    • Well…. I’ve always been a reader. A rather ravenous one actually. Though I have to admit that reading at the critical level required for client feedback is just not the same as curling up by the fireplace with a good book exactly. Part of that is speed — reading for pleasure, I can usually sink about 150pp an hour these days (depending on the book — I just finished Ken MacLeod’s STONE CANAL, and I was *not* reading it that fast; same deal with anything by China Mieville). That’s faster than I used to read — when I was younger it was about 100pp an hour and I once tested with an 80-something percent retention (which is not photographic by any stretch but means I’m likely to remember all the basic concepts and story). I’m probably more in the 40pp/hour when I need to critique.
      Oh, and it’s not “just another job.” I’m glad you said that so I could hear myself make that affirmation. I needed to hear it. Sometimes it gets tough. But I love reading. And I love books. And I love watching the creative process.

      • That’s still alot of reading. Impressive really. I’ve always wondered about you guys in this industry. I mean, you must have gotten some manuscripts where it was a chore just to get through. 🙂
        Oh, and I didn’t mean “just another job” as in “ho hum…another day another buck” type thing. Just that you probably don’t consciously go “wow…I’m reading alot!” since it’s your job and that’s just what you do. I love my work too. Programming is an integral part of my life and my day to day activity. But sometimes when I talk to other people, they’re amazed that I can code something that, to them is very complex, very quickly and efficiently. But to me, it’s just my job to do so and I never thought of it as anything special.
        So I guess my wording was bad. It’s not “just another job”. More like “just what you do every day”. Kinda like habit 🙂
        In anycase, thanks for the insight. It’s a world that I’m not familiar with at all but was always kinda fascinated by it in that romantic sort of way 🙂

  2. Cheer up.
    You’re only one person. You’ll get everything done that needs doing. Anything that doesn’t get done didn’t need doing.

  3. If manuscript #4 is the one I think it might be, feel free to bury it under the pile for a while. The author’s current desire on that one is to send it off to military school and only see it on holidays.
    *g*

  4. I’d feel guiltier, except I’m only adding to the stress levels about money, no reading involved.
    Seriously, love, breathe. Long deep breaths. I do think you may need a minion to do your bidding, or something.

    • Eventually I’m sure you’ll have some reading for me. *g* In the meantime, you’re entitled. All 40-something of you (the clients) are entitled. But sometimes I just get a bit boggled by what I haven’t managed to accomplish yet.
      Anyway — I’m feeling a little better today. Even though I still have lots of that reading to do. And I think it actually snowed about an hour ago again. Or it wasn’t exactly rain anyway. Feh on the weather.

  5. agents are inscrutable and mysterious.
    Don’t worry, you’re still all that to me.

  6. “Speed-reading Experts? This is a blog-reader of JJ. We’d like her to be happy and stress-free. How do you feel about the concept of mind-meld?”
    While we’re waiting for them to get here, have some Sacher Torte, dear. I find it calms the nerves…

  7. *offers up half-price-after-Easter chocolate bunny ears (the rest already got chewed on, sorry)*
    And hey, at least one client is Otherwise Occupied for a few more weeks, so you don’t have to worry about her…. Right now, anyway. *grin*

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