Wednesday, December 27, 2006

a little holiday sass from your favorite editorial ass

I hate some of our authors. First, there's Dr. Ben. Dr. Ben's book went into production last Thursday, before I left for vacation. I kicked my ass and stayed late to get all those materials done because, as it was pointed out to me, it would reflect poorly on myself and both my bosses if this project wasn't finished. Whatever. But I spent hours coordinating Dr. Ben's disorganized art program and formatting his manuscript correctly, all the while intercepting his neurotic emails and assuring him everything was fine. I got to go through page by page and hand-number the illustration callouts and the endnote citations.

When I got back into the office today, I see an email from him--on which he hasn't carboned my boss--saying that he found some egregious errors in the previous manuscript (wait...didn't HE write that manuscript?! Why find the errors now?!) and that it was absolutely essential that this new copy of the manuscript has to go into copyediting, instead. Since none of my supervisors are here, I can't tell them how stupid this is and ask for them to tell the author no (which is not an appropriate author communication for me). In the meantime, I must remember my imperative--that is, it will reflect poorly on me yadda yadda if I don't yadda. So I re-format, re-load, re-save, re-number, re-photocopy, re-log the illustrations, and re-sneak into the production director's office and sub in all the new materials for all the old ones. There goes two and a half hours of my day.

As a side note--Dr. Ben emailed me the new draft on Christmas. It's Christmas, for fuck's sake--why rewrite your stupid book NOW?

The second author I think is just being sneaky. My boss asked me to make up 25 copies of a bound manuscript to send out for endorsements before the holidays. Dr. Pete was late in getting his endorsement letter to me--he too sent it on Christmas Day and wanted everything turned around by close of business (alas, I wasn't in until today. Poor Dr. Pete. Christians triumph and oppress yet again.). But anyway he has sent me not 20 (as promised) but 51 endorser addresses (with a hint of more to come). He knows that my boss isn't in to tell him this is an unreasonable number of endorser copies (which cost about $15 a pop, plus postage fees, plus my time in addressing and fake-signing all those letters). Furthermore, he has asked me to use a DIFFERENT verion of the manuscript--one small tweak in the cover wording--so I have to have all the old ones printed all over again anyway. And for a final indignity, he has asked me to personally hand-write notes (disguised as being from my boss) on the title pages of each of the manuscripts so the endorsers will know whom to contact in the event that they lose their letter. I think if they lose their letter a) they're too stupid to deserve publicity from us, and b) they can all rot in hell.

Meanwhile, I have about 16 big projects to do during my "quiet" (ha) "week" (can we say 2 DAYS?!) off. Among which are a large reader's report and an "extremely important" comp title research project that I should have started last Saturday if I were ever going to finish it.

Folks, if you ever write a book, be advised that it's going to be the editorial assistant who's going to clean up all your shit for you during the week between Christmas and New Year when all the more important people are off galavanting in the Hamptons. Be advised that she is getting paid around $14 an hour (that's right) to do a purportedly high-level job that she probably had to obtain some form of Ivy League degree in order to secure (and she probably speaks at least 3 languages she never gets to use because she can't afford to travel to places where those languages are spoken anymore). She probably came to work today wearing raggedy used clothes because she can't afford to pay for her rent AND her student loans AND to buy new clothes and she's probably panicking about how she's going to cover her credit card payments--you know, the credit cards she used to buy her groceries this month--until her last freelance check, which was lost in the mail, is redrafted and resent. Be advised she has no choice but to sit alone in her little cube until she's done with all the shitwork you decided to redo over Christmas and that she has no means of modifying her work flow because she knows (and is repeatedly reminded) that hundreds of snappy young pups are barking at the door and dying to take over her job if she slows down even a little bit. Because of the...glamour of the job. Yay glamour.

What does Lizzy's aunt say? "Be careful, my dear. That savours strongly of bitterness." But then if I recall correctly they ride by Pemberley manor and Mr. Darcy scoops Lizzy up and installs her as Missus and she never has to take down another pink message for as long as she lives. A reasonable end to an unreasonable story. All right, Mr. D. I've decided I'm at peace with the idea of being a kept woman, after all. Any day now...

1 comment:

Bluenana said...

Oh, fuck that shit! Whenever authors come to me with that, I tell them that the manuscript's not in my hands anymore and that they can make their changes at the copyediting stage. Sorry you wasted so much of your time and sorry for pains in the asses like these.