Monday, February 13, 2006

Worried about your book?

Are you one of those people who worry about who is reading your manuscript when you send it in to an agent or a publisher? Do you sometimes suspect that it may not be accorded quite the careful consideration that it deserves? If so, you'd better not read this bit.

If, on the other hand, you've never had any illusions whatever about the slush-pile procedure, and have always assumed that unsolicited submissions are read, if at all, by gum-chewing college kids, moonlighting for a dollar or two per hour (if that), giving your ms all of 30 seconds' attention before pinning a standard rejection slip on to it and sliding it back into the SAE which you thoughtfully provided (they, meanwhile, watching a past episode of Friends on the office telly), then this story may give you a bit of a tee-hee-hee. Or not, as the case may be.

The story comes from Galleycat, who got it by an amazingly circuitous route, far too complicated to go into here. Anyway, the story is that, back in June 2005, a 19-year-old intern was put to work (it seems) on the slush-pile at a respectable US publisher. He wrote a blog about his experiences.

Not everything that our young reader came across met with his undiluted approval. One ms amused him greatly, because it was written by an eighteen-year-old who clearly had no understanding of human sexuality. Whereas our guy, of course, being a whole year older.... He decided to keep that submission, with a view to reading it out to his friends, who would doubtless be convulsed by it all.

Galleycat says that 'it's almost worth going through this guy's entire June 2005 archive just for the spectacle of a 19-year-old kid lecturing people on how to submit manuscripts, and to hear about how he straightened the place out.'

Well yes. No doubt. Maybe some other time, when I'm not quite so busy.

I have anonymised the details, by the way, because I am inclined to forgive the young their foolishness. The reason being that I have noticed, over the years, that foolishness is a condition which tends to persist for several years -- yea, even into one's sixties.

Galleycat, by the way, is part of mediabistro, and, as I have mentioned before, is a highly professional and authoritative sort of blog with excellent connections. The writers are Ron Hogan, long-time head of, and Sarah Weinman. Now if they gave you a verdict on your ms it might mean something.

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