This morning (a Monday) I pushed a set of dev edit notes back into an author’s court. I’d e-mailed him a heads-up on Friday, telling him I was about to finish the notes and would have them to him on Monday morning. His response was, in its entirety, “Thanks!” This morning, after I sent the notes and manuscript and track-changes tutorial, I got a bounceback that read, “I am out of the office and will respond to your e-mail after July 5.”
That sound you hear is me, pounding my head against the wall. In fairness, this is the gentleman’s first book; he doesn’t totally understand working with an editor (although I did meet with him in person—which rarely happens—and discussed in detail how the process works). But wouldn’t it have made sense, three days ago in that thank-you e-mail, to say, maybe, “Oh, and btw, I’m going to be on vacation for a week, so no rush on that”? I’m just sayin’. :)
This isn’t the first time something like this has happened. There was the author who delivered a manuscript to me on 1 November, then a week before Thanksgiving, responding to my heads-up e-mail, announced that she was taking the month of December off to spend with family. Oh, and that she needed six weeks for the rewrite. (So much for that 1 February deadline.) I could go on and on. It always astounds me to find out about that vacation or mission trip or family wedding, even though the first thing I ask an author is whether or not he or she has any commitments scheduled during the ninety days we’ll be working together. (Sigh.)
I do understand: the author is over it by the time I get my hands on the manuscript. She’s already thinking about her next novel (or, possibly, just a nice long soak in the tub). But editorial work is a collaborative process. I need you, dear author, to be present for me. So don’t schedule that vacation, please, until we turn the manuscript in to your publisher. Really, I mean it.
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