Late last week I received a peevish email from an agent asking why I hadn’t responded on a certain novel he’d sent a few weeks previously. Puzzled, I checked my file of electronic submissions and my trusty Sony eReader. I remembered receiving the title in question, but couldn’t find it in either location. Then I checked the manila folder where we keep printouts of cover letters as a record of every submission. Yep, the novel had come in—as a hard copy. And there it was, in plain sight on my reading shelf.
My apologies, Mr. Agent in Question! These days I receive so few submissions in actual paper form that (obviously) I sometimes forget to check the shelf. Two years ago, this was absolutely not the case. The major agents used to send manuscripts in sturdy, distinctively colored boxes, the better to remind the editors that there was an Important Submission on the shelf waiting to be read. My to-read pile used to take up three or four shelves in my office bookcase. A George R.R. Martin-length manuscript became a labor of Hercules.
Since that time I have lost the hardened calluses that used to adorn my shoulders, souvenirs of lugging those heavy manuscripts back and forth from home in a shoulder bag. (What, you think we read submissions in the office???) Well, all right, the calluses weren’t hardened. But I did get a sore neck and back fairly frequently from transporting all that weight.
These days I rarely plunk anything onto my reading shelf: the occasional self-published book comes in via agent; some graphic novels, some foreign books, the odd manuscript here and there. I’m delighted not to have all those dead trees on my conscience any longer. I have enough on my conscience as it is, with an average of 45 submissions at any given time loaded onto my Sony. Back to work, before the next peevish phone call comes in….
Read what my colleagues have written about their work days here at Del Rey Spectra, in The Cubicle at the End of the Universe!