Grr. Argh.

I hate it when a manuscript comes back and you can tell exactly how far the editor read. (Okay, I hate when any of them come back. Offers is what we want. Yep. But, still, this can be rather irksome.)

And looking at my last several entries, I seem to be rather cranky the last couple of weeks. I must resolve to count my blessings at some point soon.

39 responses to “Grr. Argh.

  1. eeek. How far? I’m yet to reach the point of novel-sending-out (but hopefully I’ll reach it in a month or so)

    • Oh… I don’t know if I should say, because I don’t want any client to cross-reference an email and an entry and have even more angst. Though I don’t think this is one of the clients who reads this journal. But, I’m not going to name names either.
      Based on general experience, it happens pretty often, though with the tidy readers, it is harder to tell. And it can be anything from the first chapter to half the manuscript.

      • Sorry, I didn’t really think about the whole client side of it. Won’t badger for details again 🙂
        When I read slush I often read only the beginning of a MS before rejecting it (though I’d generally give agented stuff a bit more of a chance), so I guess the would-be authors who got those may have been able to tell where I was up to as well. Rejectomancy-galore.

        • Sorry, I didn’t really think about the whole client side of it. Won’t badger for details again
          No problem… I know that I don’t always read submissions through to the end either. Sometimes you can just tell earlier, rather than later, that it’s not going to work for you. If I’m considering a full manuscript, I’ll often flip ahead just to see if the beginning is starting out unevenly – beginnings are hard, sometimes. But then, I also have a lot of clients who complain about middles and have read several books that dump the ending on its head. Heh. I understand, given volume, that expediency can sometimes dictate the time devoted to a reading. I still don’t like it — from either side of the fence, but moreso, of course, when I’m getting a project returned to me.

      • A friend of mine – former romance writer, now an agent herself – got one back from an editor. Friend knew exactly how far they’d read, from the cigarette ash trapped between the pages.
        She apparently had a compulsive chain smoker reading it. She didn’t reuse any of that ms for scrap – it reeked of ciggies.

  2. How far did he read? one wonders.

  3. Is it because all the red marks suddenly stopped happening?

    • Heh. No, not really (and lots of my editor friends have been known to use blue when editing that closely). Since this was just a reading for a potential sale, they don’t tend to do that sort of editing. So, you tell by where the dog-eared and/or wrinkled pages stop and the manuscript suddenly becomes much cleaner looking. That’s why it’s hard to tell where the neat ones do it. Because they don’t bend up the pages and they square the edges when they send it back.

      • Huh. So maybe it would just be me, but I don’t know if I could send a MS that looks like my ferrets danced all over it back to someone without considering the need to iron it back into shape.
        Of course, I bet it’s different when you read a dozen (more? eep!) manuscripts a day…

        • I don’t tend to send them back out to editors that way. I own a xerox machine. Heh. But they send ’em back to me in various states of, um, decay.

  4. There used to be agents who would turn selected pages upside down, in order to ‘tell’ how far the editor read.
    The temptation to drop the manuscript and mix all the pages up before returning the manuscript was always great. I personally never gave in to the urge… that I’m admitting to, anyway.

    • *laugh* That you’re admitting to… (and this is one reason why page numbers can be *so* useful – for when manuscripts get dropped) There may still be agents who do that, though I’m not one of them.
      I’ve gotten manuscripts with occasional upside down pages in manuscripts from authors. Or blank pages (which may or may not be the fault of the printer feed).

    • Or the other reputed classic of putting a hair between the pages. I was completely unaware of that one when I did my first round of queries ever. One rejection letter came back with a handwritten note at the bottom: “I thought the dog hairs were a nice touch.” (Me: hunh? Oh. Crap.)
      Later I found out about the hair-between-the-pages and was seriously tempted to send that agent pictures of my foxhounds, just on principle. “No, really, everything gets dog hairs around here. Please don’t feel special. You want more? How about the entire beagle?”

      • I have long hair, and it tends to end up pretty much everywhere. Often stuck in the packing tape. *wry look* If I had some in a manuscript package, it would also be an accident. It doesn’t strike me as a particularly good method because it’s too easy for it to get displaced. What I really don’t like are envelopes and manuscripts that rather too obviously come from a heavy smoker. So, you open the manuscript and a whoosh of stale nicotine-scented air enters the room.

        • Anything’s gotta be better than reeking of cat pee, but that could just be me. *laugh*

          • Well, I’m highly sensitive to cigarette smoke, so (in my personal opinion), cat pee is preferred. But I can’t speak for on that matter.

            • The more I hang out on Arc’s journal, the more I realize how complex life truly is. *sigh* Note to self: when you finally bribe make friends with an agent, check for all known allergies first. Make list of possibles: dog hair, cat dander; pipe, miso, nag champa. Warn agent. Include chocolate to soothe the wildly sneezing agent beast, if necessary.
              *nods firmly*
              Okay, all set on this end! ;D

              • Include chocolate to soothe the wildly sneezing agent beast, if necessary.
                This is fine, unless they happen to be allergic to the chocolate itself. . . .

                • You’re not helping! *laughs* This is where I bash my head against the keyboard. No, wait…an allergic-to-chocolate agent is just fine. Leaves more chocolate in the world for me! ;D
                  Hey, I’m trying to look on the bright side, given that today feels like an all-round ‘here to make me neurotic’ kinda day…

                  • You’re not helping!
                    Of course not. At least not in that way.
                    an all-round ‘here to make me neurotic’ kinda day…
                    Glad to be of service.

                  • It also depends on whether said agent has much of a sweet tooth. Chocolate may not have that calming influence one is seeking….

                    • Well, I suspect sending an agent “sleepytime tea” is not exactly conducive to the agent getting all hoppy and excited about the ms. More like:
                      Agent: Not bad. I think I… zzzzzzzzzz.
                      Author: Oops.

        • What I really don’t like are envelopes and manuscripts that rather too obviously come from a heavy smoker. So, you open the manuscript and a whoosh of stale nicotine-scented air enters the room.
          Oh, the copyedits for CI. The manuscript reeked–it took days for it to air out.
          Not to steer the subject, but we see it, too. I still recall the cat hair-infused ms I got back from my editor. It was enough to trigger my allergies.

          • Cat hair infects all manuscripts. Even if the cat and manuscript are never in the same room. It’s an editorial Law.
            (even editors who don’t have cats somehow find strands of feline DNA left behind in their wake…)

            • Once upon a time I discovered that my cat liked to sleep in my manuscript boxes. Any hairs arising from that were purely unintentional. Albeit fluffy.

          • Once I knew about the Hair-in-MS sneakiness, that did occur to me. Cat dander gets in everything and it will never come out. You could move into a house that hasn’t had a cat in seven years, and there’ll still be dander that will catch a more sensitive allergy. Short of wrapping up queries and mss in a sterile environment, I suppose judicious wiping is at least a start.
            I’m still boggling over ‘airing out’ a manuscript. I’m having visions of you and your cohorts putting up clotheslines on the roof of the building and pinning every sheet to the line…!

          • Back when I lived in Allergy Centrale, I swore that if I mailed out any manuscripts, I would shell out the cash for a nice clean printout from Kinko’s (or possibly my office’s copier, ahem) rather than the perfume-and-cat-infested house printer and paper supply.
            Although if I went to Kinko’s I could have them shrink-wrap the manuscript, and add a little “Sanitized For Your Protection” sticker. I always thought that would make a good book title.

  5. On my very first submission, I got the ms back from the publisher with the reader’s notes included. They were written on the back of a real estate listing for an apartment in Manhattan.
    I ask you – how can someone possibly give anything a fair read when they’re househunting in NYC???? It may have been the best romance EVAH…
    we shall never know.
    PS when submitting a ms to the WW contest, including chocolate will give you 20 extra points…

  6. I had this happen to me!
    My very first manuscript submission, even. My query letter was well handled, even smudged in a few places. My synopsis, somewhat messy. My sample chapters?
    Clean as a whistle.
    I figured the synop was the stopping point, even more so when someone pointed out to me: “Uh, you do know that a 10-page, single spaced synopsis is probably going overboard, right?”
    Now I know. *g* I’m curious to see how my next submission package returns to me.

  7. I’ve tended to see a dark cloud with every silver lining I encounter lately, myself. It’s the time of year, I think: not yet spring, but just cruddy enough to still have some of winter’s bite. It’s enough to bring anyone down.

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