Monday, October 23, 2006

Losing Manuscripts

Madam Rejector,

Thank you a thousand times for your time, insight, and courageous candor in answering some of our more burning, writerly questions.

I have read stories of manuscripts being lost. Literally vanishing somewhere within the confines of an agent's office. I currently have a full manuscript out with a HUGE agent at a HUGE agency. They requested my manuscript via email and I am now, as has been a little over an entire month since I sent it off that it might have been deleted in error or printed and then lost. Any insight? Does this ever really happen?

A Quibbling Submitor

I have seen a number of agents' offices, and while I am sure there are exceptions to the rule, I have yet to see an office that was not a huge mess of manuscripts, partials, books, packaging to send out books, files on contracts, and several pieces of broken furniture or lamps that don't work. So, obviously, we lose stuff. More accurately, we put stuff somewhere to get it out of the way and then we forget about it. All white paper in stacks kind of look alike, especially when they're squeezed between two proofs for the stable author's new book and a folder of receipts from the agent's trip to the convention in Frankfurt.

In your case, I think it's very unlikely that the agency has lost it. They got it by email, and if they did print the whole thing, then they would have two copies. A month simply isn't enough time to expect an agent to review a full manuscript. Wait a couple more months and then send a brief email to ask (politely) if they have the material.


Anonymous said...

Does the phrase "stable author" mean an author who is not unstable, or a member of the agent's stable?

(I'm pretty sure it just means a trusted author/one that's been signed. I'm just wondering about the origin of the phrase)

Catja (green_knight) said...

All white paper in stacks kind of look alike

So when agents start receiving lots and lots of mss on coloured paper, they'll know whom to blame...