Lest you believe that I spend significant portions of my time in the ladies' room at work, crying over spilled milk, I felt that I should follow up on yesterday's post.
After getting a grip in the restroom, I returned to my desk and got through what became a rather productive day otherwise. In fact, I graded some excellent papers -- none plagiarized! -- from my African American history class, which boosted my spirits (as did encouraging comments and some wild-assed suggestions from my real-world friends -- most of which involved the word "fuck" and some of which involved the types of pranks people think are very wise when they are six sheets to the wind). Then, I checked my calendar to see what else was on the schedule.
That's when I got pissed.
I tend to lose track of time very easily, especially if I'm busy. As I result, I hadn't noticed that a month had passed since I had submitted the completed manuscript. These guys have had my manuscript for a whole month. They failed to acknowledge its receipt until last week, at which time they told me to eliminate the equivalent of an extra long chapter (most clock in at around 5,000 words or close to twenty double-spaced pages). They haven't read a single word of the damn thing, they haven't done any copyediting; and -- as Big D reminded me -- if they were actual editors, they would have suggested where I could make some effective cuts. So, essentially, they sat on the manuscript for three weeks before they simply ran a word count on it. Then, they gave me attitude because I couldn't cut 6,000 words in one weekend.
Which then reminded me of the whole index kerfluffle. Again, they already had a good-sized chunk of my manuscript when they told me that my formatting was wrong, that I had not indicated where my images should go, and that I didn't have an index. Well, as it turned out, my formatting was wrong because they had failed to send me the instructions for authors that included the technical information for submitting the manuscript (although I did receive several catalogs and advertising brochures for their other publications). Their instructions for the placement of images were written so vaguely as to be open for interpretation, and, of course, I interpreted them wrongly. Then, I had assumed from past experience that I wouldn't be creating an index until I had the page proofs. Well, I assumed wrong there, as well, since I now know that they skip the whole copy editing and page proof process. Finally, the index request came on a Thursday with a deadline for the following Monday. Have you ever created an index? It's pretty labor intensive. Three and a half days is just not enough time.
At which point, I remembered the situation wherein I thought that they were bringing in an outside reader, after the fact and without forewarning. Not only did this seem to be changing the rules, not only did it seem rather unorthodox to tell the name of the person who would be doing the supposed vetting, but when I asked about the exact role of this person and the "editor" set up a phone conference with me to explain the situation, she failed to actually hold the conference. She also failed to apologize. Two weeks later, when I asked again about the role of this outside reader, she set up another conference, which she again forgot and for which she again failed to apologize. When they passed my book on to its third "editor," I asked her about the outside guy. She gave me a two sentence answer in e-mail: The guy was just going to blurb the book. This couldn't have been explained two months earlier?
Along the way, they have lost the marketing survey that I sent them in December. On several occasions, I will send information X to "Editor A," then receive a call from "Editor B" the next week saying that she needs that very same information X, in order to pass it along to that very same "Editor A." They call to ask for files that they have already received. They have sent me back to archives to get images re-scanned for the proper width (see the failure to send me the instructions for the authors), when it turns out that the whole process can be done simply through PhotoShop. They have, as of today, failed to acknowledge receipt of the improved images. Although, back in November, I had told them specifically that I was moving and gave them my new address, they continued to send things to my old address. When I pointed this out, they became "concerned" and had to "talk" with one another about me moving away from the town. Now, they have forgotten that I no longer live there.*
I don't deny that I have required several extensions to complete this book. That kind of a situation inconveniences all involved; but that's what happens when you move, change jobs, take on a second job and get sick for a month and a half in the middle of writing. I admit that I have been a pain-in-the-ass author when it comes to needing extensions. That is my issue, connected to some other crap in my head, and I am taking responsibility and dealing with it; but, just as their behavior does not excuse mine, mine does not excuse theirs.
I've refrained from telling them that, if we want to get brutally honest, this book is actually about third or fourth on my list given that it is doing nothing for my intellectual or literary career. I have two jobs, each with a paycheck, that take priority. I don't say to them that this is simply a hobby with no promise of pecuniary return (in fact, I am taking a loss), so that I am not willing to drop everything to meet their last minute deadlines. I don't observe to them that, the way their system is set up, they are only going to attract hobbyists as authors. Saying those things wouldn't be very nice or professional or productive in any way. That would just be my riled up inner bitch talking.
Instead, I'm waiting for their call about cancelling my contract while also working on the 6,000 word cut (among the grading and the class preparation and the writing of the article-that-will-not-die but which will enhance my career). Given their track record, they will probably call me in two weeks, and I will have already sent the edited manuscript back to them.
If they do decide to cancel the contract, I have alternate game plans. First, I could take the maunscript, expand its scope, and turn it into a more academic book, although I'm not sure that I want to commit to that big of a project. Second, I could take the last two chapters on tourism, expand their scope, and turn them in to a more academic book. This is a very appealing plan, despite the commitment, because...well, that's a whole other blog post of another time. Third, I could send it the local author mill in the town, as is and with such oddities as endnotes, and see if they want it. I've met two people who have published through that house, and the editors there at least take some interest in the actual quality of the content of their publications.
Or fourth, I could just get over it and move on.
In parting, I leave you today with this version (because the Gloria Gayor video has been yanked for copyright violations) of a "two tears in a bucket" song that I have loved since age 12. Feel free to get your groove on and sing along.:
* "We really like our authors to live in the location of the book," they told me. "Well," I said. "I lived there when I started the book, but I couldn't afford groceries, so things had to change. Now, I make twice as much as I did there and can pay my rent." "Well," they said, "we are a little concerned about that. We will have to confer on it." Really, what did they expect me to do? Move back?