Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The "Back In ____ " Sign

So the publishing industry is officially on vacation.

I say officially because last week we were "not in the office" the way Victorian Londoners were "not at home" when they didn't want to entertain visitors. In other words, we generally shut off our phones and spent the week getting around to the stuff that piled up. My boss called up some editors and fellow agents she needed to catch up with (contacts make an agency), now that she had the excuse of the publishing houses being closed to not be busy with them. It was also a week for reading and responding to partials, and cleaning out of the office. This included a couple of embarassing finds ("Uh, I think this requested manuscript arrived in 2005. Yeah, it did. Oops. Should we do something about this?") as we cleaned out the office - my boss is working more from home this coming year, which hopefully will not affect my job because the mail will still come to the office in Manhattan and the phone will still ring there. Many agents have offices in name only in Manhattan, because it's insanely expensive to rent office space here, and the industry has reached a point where agents can really work from home if they own a cell phone and a wireless laptop. This is why a lot of offices offer forwarding services, to make it seem like your agent has an office downtown when really they work out of their home in Brooklyn most of the time.

But this week, we're really gone. I'm only going in once, to handle the week's mail. I'm as frustrated as you guys are - I've got partials sitting at a publishing house and an agency, and I know I won't hear back until the second or third week of January at best. I feel your pain.


Dave Fragments said...

My company had a liberal leave policy and every December was like "use it or lose it" time. The place turned empty as scrooge's coal bin.

I used to go in a day or two just to clear the desk, file, finish all the little "stuff" and catch up.

I got an email from a magazine - their editorial board is reading my short story this week. I don't know if that is good or bad this week. It's like do I want them reading it in a busy time? Or do I want them reading it while hunover and stuffed to the gills with cookies? Does holiday cheer stretch to their decisions or make them hypercritical?

Nancy Beck said...

I always found the week in between Christmas and New Year's to be a week to catch up, too. And that's exactly what I'm doing - catching up on filing (bleh).

I hope you have a nice and safe New Year's!


The Rejecter said...


Any time a magazine informs you that your story made it to their editorial board, that's a great sign. The timing doesn't matter at all.

Dave Fragments said...

Thank you.
I still won't get my hopes up.

Anonymous said...

Don't you mean "The 'Back In ______' Sign"?

Back that sign up, back that sign up, back that sign up, show off what you got

If you think you've got the biggest _____, come on baby shake that ______

Dave writes:

"The place turned empty as scrooge's coal bin."

Scrooge was a wealthy man who heated his house with coal. His coal bin was not lacking in the least. And, if it were, a gift of coal would have been good and kind and Christian for that man.

And it's "Scrooge," not "scrooge." (Though I prefer "Screwage" over both.)

I'm glad your company didn't have a "liberals leave policy" (mine does, as it's moderately radical...).

If it takes their editors a whole week to read your short story, it can't be much of a short story. It's either a poem or a book (bad news!).

Anonymous said...

Hey Anon,

I think you need a thump with the cluegun (to borrow from Miss Snark).
Scrooge's coal bin was empty at his place of business because he was too cheap to provide heat for his employees.


Anonymous said...

Anonymous number two---unless you're referring to some made-for-television movie version, you're wrong:

The door of Scrooge’s counting-house was open that he might keep his eye upon his clerk, who in a dismal little cell beyond, a sort of tank, was copying letters. Scrooge had a very small fire, but the clerk’s fire was so very much smaller that it looked like one coal. But he couldn’t replenish it, for Scrooge kept the coal-box in his own room; and so surely as the clerk came in with the shovel, the master predicted that it would be necessary for them to part. Wherefore the clerk put on his white comforter, and tried to warm himself at the candle; in which effort, not being a man of a strong imagination, he failed.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it was the Muppets version...a delightful little movie. Maybe you could rent it. Either way, I got Dave's point, and that's my point.

I'm carrying on now.

Dave Fragments said...

You're arguing over nothing? Well, not entirely nothing, more like the lack of anything - fuel and heat. It's a little like describing a vacuum - nothing's there.

THE OFFICE WAS EMPTY between Christmas and New Years. That's what I meant.
You guys need to walk away from the computer, get out of the house and enjoy the holidays.


LorMarie said...

Going in only once this week may have been just what you needed. Sometimes we need the time away to clear our minds for the tough work ahead.

Dave Fragments said...

Speaking of NOTHING

It seams that James Clerk Maxwell (1831 - 1879) and other scientists were invited by Queen Victoria to explain the nature of a vacuum:
"I was sent to London, to be ready to explain to the Queen why Otto Von Guericke devoted himself to the discovery of nothing, and to show her the two hemispheres in which he kept it, and the picture of the 16 horses who could not separate the hemispheres, and how after 200 years, W. Crookes has come much nearer to nothing and has sealed it up in a glass globe for public inspection. Her Majesty however, let us off very easily and did not make much ado about nothing, as she had much heavy work cut out for her all the rest of the day."
from "Newscripts" by K.M. Reese, "Chemical and Engineering News" January 29, 1996

Kanani said...

Patience, grasshopper. Good things happen to those who wait.

Anonymous said...

My theory is that everyone in publishing is so young, they haven't gotten over having a month off over Christmas the way they did in college, and here we are as a result. Ya think?

Anonymous said...

Ouch, anonymous poster #13! That's a bit ageist, don't you think? I highly recommend the Twentysomething Essays by Twentysomething Writers anthology (Random House) if you're looking for a glimpse into the wide variety of lives us younglings live...and I'll confess, one of the essays in there is mine. :) But the anthology's still good!

Love the blog, Rejecter!
~A Twentysomething

Anonymous said...

Hey Twentysomething, I think your leg was being pulled there by the other anonymous.

Kids these days. No sense of humor.

Looking forward to your return, Rejecter!