The dissection of the human body is typically performed for one of two reasons: 1) to educate a student of medicine or forensic studies about the anatomical facts and nuances of the body, or 2) to determine someone’s cause of death.
My intent behind “My Rant; Dissected” is to offer those of us within the publishing industry additional perspectives to cogitate. This portion of my blog is not intended to perpetuate the industry whining, but to assist in slowing the publishing kingdom’s trajectory for an autopsy. A firm believer in prevention, I prefer that the publishing world reflect on its shortcoming before reaching post-mortem status.
With that, my rant begins…
Prefacing caveat: To all of the hundreds of editors that have tirelessly responded to me and who currently engage with me; who have stood by me through my fledgling days and go with me into the foreseeable future, I thank you. This rant is not about you.
As another holiday season approaches, I begin experiencing anxiety in knowing the publishing world will soon be turning a deaf ear until after the new year is in full force. I get it. It’s the time of year that allows us to slow down and regroup, and even to catch up to that proverbial eight ball we’ve been stuck behind all year.
The holiday sabbatical wouldn’t be such an issue if I wasn’t hearing so many frustrating accounts of editors simply not responding to my colleagues’ queries or submissions. I can throw my own hat into the ring, too. I’m astonished that after years of creating value for publishing houses by offering treasures of compelling manuscripts and book concepts, I am occasionally snubbed by discourteous non-replies.
I recognize that the industry is in a state of flux, that houses and imprints are dancing the acquisition/loss waltz, and that editors are very busy people. How long does it take to type, “Thanks, Agent X. I appreciate you submitting Work X, but it is simply not right for my list at this time.” About 15 seconds if you type with any level of skill. About 40 seconds if your typing skills fall to pecking the message with your index finger.
In an era where we must consider things like whether a SPAM filter’s greylisting function actually works properly, or worry whether the post office has intermittently treated a media rate package like junk mail, the originator of the communication is often left to wonder where their well-crafted words have ultimately landed. Out of sheer courtesy in recognizing this, why doesn’t the receiver just respond with, “Got it. I’ll let you know.” We can all read between the lines at that point… you may or may not read it, but at least we know it arrived at its destination. Now we can leave you to discern which of the hundreds of manuscripts or proposals you will actually open and consider.
I don’t expect a lengthy phone call (even if I call you, I leave my email address so you don’t have to be inconvenienced by risking some long diatribe from a salivating agent who has finally won your ear), I simply expect a response of any sort. In every correspondence with a new publishing editor with whom I’ve yet to make a deal, I leave permission and the necessary information to text me, email me, write on my agency Facebook wall, or tweet/DM something to me on Twitter. Sorry that I’m not yet proficient enough to deem telepathy as a relevant mode of response.
Ultimately, I am your ally. I am the filter between the barrage of authors desperate to get their life’s work into print. I am the skilled communicator whose emails actually entail nuggets of relevant information (I do my homework and know to whom I should be sending the thriller manuscript versus the next best self-help idea). I am the agent who may hold within her grip the next bestseller. That potential bestseller is within your grasp… if you would stop ignoring me.
Basic Dissection Procedure:
Step 1. Agent phones, mails or emails new editor requesting permission to send work for review
Step 2. Editor receives inquiry
Step 3. Editor either A) responds with enthusiasm and a green light, or B) replies with regret and a declination
(Note: Neither the mode nor length of communication is important within this part of the procedure; the important thing is to continue the momentum, lest unnecessary frustration ensue)
Step 4. Scenario A: Agent expeditiously completes all editor’s requests and waits patiently during the editorial and acquisition review process
Scenario B: Agent thanks editor for their time, and moves on to another relevant house that may welcome the work
Step 5. Start back at Step 1. and continue.
In summary, let’s respect one another. For my part, I vow to demonstrate brevity, relevance and value in my communication with editors. By the very nature of our industry, and certainly as it revolutionizes itself, editors and agents need each other.
In the spirit of my newest author, Melanie Spencer, I propose that we all simply follow the Golden Rule. Where decorum (one of Melanie’s favorite words) and cooperation exist, anything is possible.
Thanks for your time and attention. I welcome your comments.
To find out more about Melanie Spencer, visit http://charmfinder.wordpress.com/