Monday, March 31, 2008

getting back into gear

First, let me say that everyone posted such lovely things over the last two days that I'm a little embarrassed that I briefly entertained the idea of not putting my blog back up and running away from it all. So thanks to one and all.

Unfortunately, I have approximately 10,465 emails to answer and things to catch up on, so not much exciting to say today. However, I am a sucker for a good author story and will post this one link. It's a Washington Post article on Lois Lowry, a writer who was a very big influence on me and, I believe, many others. Because, let's face it, she just rocks. It turns out she was a single mother and college dropout who literaly published her first novel "out of sheer necessity." Very interesting.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Dearly beloved

I'm sorry I took my blog offline yesterday. I came back from vacation to find my inbox filled with hate mail from people who had read my stalker post on Gawker (Gawker linked to me yesterday afternoon and drove a crazy number of readers here) and apparently took very personal offense.

I was really shocked and saddened by this response. I know that by putting up any kind of content online I'm subjecting my writing to the opinion of the world, and I do honestly believe that most of these reactions were unfair and had missed the point of my post, but it was never my hope to inspire violent negative feelings in any of my readers, and I certainly don't want anyone who hates me on such a personal level plumbing my backlist here.

I started this blog to help people and make them happy. I've met lots of wonderful people and, I think, made a lot of friends. I do not want to be the kind of blogger that makes enemies, even inadvertently. I hope that those of you who know me well (or even at all) did not take my stalker post, or any other post I have ever made, to be a personal affront to your dignity. I'm also sad that apparently it's a major crime to admit to not liking James Joyce. Which actually strikes me as a little funny.

I've put the blog back up for now, since traffic has dropped a lot lower than it was yesterday, and I've gone through and deleted posts I think might upset people or solicit further negative attention. I still feel really bad about this and I can't promise I'm not going to have to take down more or all if the hate mail keeps coming.

To my many internet friends, again, I'm really sorry to do this. I hope things will settle down shortly.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Saturday Morning Indie Rock Moment

Watch this awesome new video, A Good Cafe on George Street, from The Rosie Taylor Project, a very lovable new indie band from Leeds.

My friend and birthday twin Jonny Davies is the extremely skinny lead singer. I think he's my "friend" because he slept on my couch once for more than a week, so this seems fair. But now he's all skinny and famous. Although to be honest he was skinny before, too.

Also, can someone explain to me how I can upload an actual video instead of a link? I've tried to figure this out like 8 times now. Sigh.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Happy Weekend.

Please click here. It will make your day 600 times better.

I have a stalker.

I know I'm supposed to be on hiatus, but I had to write about this.

An unsolicited author came into our offices looking for me. I have no idea how he got my name--I'd never met him before. But he came in asking for me by name and carrying his unsolicited manuscript (which, incidentally, is a kind of book I have never acquired and my company has never published).

My savvy assistant told him I was out of the office (I wasn't) and then endured this guy for 40 minutes while he talked her ear off about how his project was going to save society. When she finally convinced him that waiting around for me wasn't going to do any good, he left. But not before asking how long it would be before someone was in touch with him.

"It's hard to say," my assistant told him. "Editors are really busy."

Apparently, he called the next day and asked to speak to me. My assistant, bless her heart, let him know I was unavailable. He wanted to know if there was any feedback on his manuscript yet; she said no (after all, only one day had gone by). He asked if agented manuscripts got priority or something.

Yes, she told him.

Now he has somehow learned my direct line. I have had 3 (three) long phone messages from him today about his book and how it's going to change the world.

I'm a little afraid, but things like this do happen. My friend Nikki, for example, told us a story about how back when she was an assistant her boss had an in-person visitor who came to see her. It turned out to be an ex con who had sent her a proposal while he was in prison. She had rejected the proposal, and now that he was out of jail he had come in person... to thank her for looking at it. But that story might, in theory, have ended differently.

Sadly, all the below advice is really only helpful to the kinds of people who don't inform themselves by doing research. If you're reading this blog, I'm sure you know all this already. But nevertheless. In case you, Mr. Crazy Slush Man, happen upon this blog, here are some general guidelines that might help you with your publication pursuit.

Rules for Not Making Editors Hate You

1) Never show up in person at a publishing company. Ever. Not unless a real person (and not an imaginary person in your head) has specifically made a date with you and asked you to come in for a meeting. Even if you are just well-meaning and happen to be in the neighborhood to drop something off, seeing an editor will make that editor feel incredibly awkward and more likely to hate you and your project. We lead crazed, frazzled existences and we don't like having to meet with people we are not expecting. Ever. None of us.

2) Don't call on the phone. Ever. Two reasons--1) The phone is bad for us, because we can't choose the timing. If you email us, we can address your issue thoughtfully and when we have time to. Plus the phone is super awkward--I always feel backed up against the wall when someone I'm not expecting to talk to is on the phone. 2) The phone is bad for you. If you get us on the phone and ask for the status and we didn't like it, we're going to have to reject it right there, on the phone with you. Also, maybe we were thinking "maybe" about your project, but now, since you've forced us to talk to you on the phone, we're suddenly thinking "no." Just. Don't. Call.

3) Do you have an agent? Then never, ever be personally in touch with me. The I start to feel double teamed, and on top of that, I begin to question the relationship you have with your agent. The only time I should have any contact with an agented author before a contract is signed is AFTER I tell the agent I like the project and the agent and I arrange a mutually agreeable meeting or phone call. The author should never be involved in this.

4) Know what I acquire. If you send me your manuscript and it has nothing to do with what I edit, why should I do you the courtesy of wasting my very precious free time responding to you? Seriously. There are literally thousands of hard-working people who want to get published and have done the footwork. You are not special. You wanna get published, you do it too.

5) Do not harrass my assistant. Ever. Her job is very hard. I've been there, honey. Just because she's as smart and savvy as she is does not mean she should have to deal with you and your mental issues.

6) Do not follow up the next day. Do not follow up the next week. You may follow up one month after you've submitted, but do so politely and in as unoffensive a way as possible. I'm softer toward the "I just wanted to make sure all my materials were in order and to see if there was any other information you might need" approach. The "Why haven't you looked at my manuscript yet? It's been over a month" approach? Yeah, not a favorite of mine, actually.

7) Do not leave me lengthy voicemails (although I suppose if you're calling at all I should just direct you back to #2). I just delete them without listening.

8) Do not make me take time out of my day to blog angrily because I'm SO STEAMED about how you've annoyed me and my assistant when I should, in fact, be finishing my catalog copy edits.

Sorry. Rant over. I know that none of the people reading this need to read it, but please direct all your crazy friends to this page.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

virginity and other silly things

SBTB posted this lovely editorial in response to an MSNBC article that talks about a new fad some women are buying into--undergoing surgery to have their hymens reconstructed so they can be "revirginized."

I just have so many obvious things to say about this that I'm not going to bother to say any of them. I just thought everyone should know the article's out there.

But I bring up a semi-related thing I've heard: A major women's magazine estimated (based on a survey) that 80% of Americans say they regret their first time (one of my authors tipped me off to this study). Question--does that mean Americans feel pressured to have sex when they're not emotionally ready for it because it's cool, or does it mean that Americans feel pressured to regret healthy sex? Or a combination of the two?