by Ramona Richards
It’s clichéd but true: One of the greatest joys for an editor is to find that new voice, that special talent that leads to a long career. We love discovering new writers, which is why we slug through hundreds of proposals every year and travel to dozens of writers conferences. The old bromide about romance is just as true about publishing: There are a lot of frogs on the path to that prince (or princess).
But editors are human as well, and we all make a lot of missteps on the journey. We reject bestsellers and overlook genius. A book gets through all the proofing steps with an unbearable error in it. Covers go to press with three-armed heroines. We get behind with submissions . . . .
Yeah…that one resonates. I’m so far behind now I’m sure some folks have even forgotten they submitted to me. For instance, last year about this same time, I opened up the query letter door to readers of the Seekerville blog, intending to handle the queries quickly. I had set aside a full week to do so. That first day, I received 50 queries and turned them around right away. So far, so good.
The next morning, my world dissolved in a spiraling haze of nausea and vertigo. Not a pretty sight. I thought I’d had a stroke. So did the docs. But no…just vertigo, a loathsome problem that left me unable to work for more than a month. Fully functioning (doing more than the basics) took another month.
I recovered from the vertigo, but publishing, including submissions, did NOT stop for those two months. Because of the way projects accumulate in production, I soon found myself six months behind. Those delightful Seekerville queries fell even farther behind. I still haven’t answered some of them a year later. I know it made some folks angry and frustrated. Me, too.
Finally, I got so far behind that, after discussing it with my supervisor, we closed submissions until June 1, 2013. We have already filled our 2014 list, and are working on 2015, so I have time. Plus, this will let me catch up on the production side. I hope to be finished with that by mid-January.
Then, I will focus on those 350 or so submissions. Some that I like may be sold by now. If so, I’ll cheer for the author. If not, I may find a prince (or princess) in that queue.
I hope so. It’s every editor’s dream.
Ramona Richards, Senior Acquisitions Editor for Fiction at Abingdon Press, is an award-winning writer, editor, and speaker. She’s the author of 9 books and frequent contributor to devotional collections. An avid live music fan, Ramona loves her adopted hometown of Nashville, Tennessee.
I was so sorry to hear of your illness and had no idea you were going through so much suffering. It is not easy to get derailed by sickness when we face commitments with tight deadlines.
May our Lord continue to strengthen you and grant you a total recovery. May He redeem the time you lost and help you to accomplish twice as much in half the time!
Oh, Ramona, I had no idea. So sorry you and vertigo tangled. Even a mild case is a nasty thing and yours sounds positively terrible. But thanks for a behind-the-scenes look at an editor’s schedule.