Hence, there's this kind of air traffic control or triage with the reading pile. So first priority... A client turns in a manuscript that's already been sold to a publisher and that needs to land first because it's already sold, there's a delivery check waiting when the manuscript gets turned in, and often the project is already scheduled so editorial work needs to be done in a specific time-frame in order to meet the publisher's production schedule. And sometimes I'll read that manuscript a second time or sometimes not, depending on the extent of the revisions and whether or not the production schedule has any give in it for more agent revisions. Then I'll come across something like Stung that's not under contract but which is from an actual current selling agency client, so that will get slotted behind a contracted-for manuscript but ahead of most anything from a non-client. And then I'll finally have a moment to read something from a non-client like Latent. And then there will be the next drafts of a Latent or Stung. In the case of Latent and Stung, I knew both manuscripts were very very close to going to market, so those had priority over first drafts on the slush pile or some second drafts for things that I know have potential but which aren't quite as close to going to market.
With Latent and Stung off to market, I have one more third draft of something which I think is very very close which I've decided to put ahead of everything else. And then after that, for the first time in several months, it looks like I can start to tackle the February manuscripts. And because those have been here so long, I feel a need to get to some of them over manuscripts that came in May which are theoretically more important but which if I read now could turn somebody else's six-month wait into an eight-month.
And even then there are decisions to make. Since I'm going to LA this month perhaps I should read the manuscript from an author in LA before I head out, in case we'll have something to discuss. But if I can't get everything read before the trip, what does that mean for an author who may have turned in a manuscript two weeks sooner but may now wait four weeks longer for a response?
In part I'm able to get caught up because summer is often slightly slower at JABberwocky. June and July can be very slow months for publisher payments which means less time spent on processing those. Many editors in the US will go to ComicCon or on vacation, so I have fewer people to talk to. Europeans can take long summer vacations so the foreign rights business will slow up. How much reading time will I have before things get busy again?
If I really like one of these February manuscripts but need to do that revision thing, then it could be that I'll have only four or six weeks while an author revises and then have a second draft for a February manuscript that will get slotted ahead of some April manuscript.
I don't like this, but I'm trying as best as I can to do things as quickly as I can.
And FYI, as bad as things are here... Some editors have always been very slow, and I sympathize more and more. In 2009, many publishing houses have had layoffs or hiring freezes as a result of the economic situation, and so they are trying to do more with less. Which is not always possible, which is making an editor's life a little bit harder.