(First, legally, there is no longer any such thing as “literature” in America, but only “products” which can be taxed if housed in warehouses. Oh, the sad, sad state of American laws/culture. Yet, I still use the term literature in the way I always have, relating to writers and those in the writing field.)
A critique friend emailed us her quandary about whether or not to ask an agent general query questions about her manuscript. (e.g., The agent had the manuscript nearly a year AFTER the writer had done her requested revisions. My writing friend was asking us in the critique group if she was being rude to query the agent about where the agent was in reading it.)
An editor I met at a conference (and was her designated personal assistant for the weekend) announced to the group if she didn’t get back to a requested manuscript request in two months, to give her a nudge. She finally got back to my nudges eighteen months later to reject the story.
I totally “get” the fact of agents and editors being overwhelmed with 10,000 submissions each month. There are the unsolicited, the solicited, the requested revisions, the editorial contacts and followups the conferences and new submissions, etc. I can only imagine editors and agents sitting in a valley surrounded with mountains of work. There is also the downsizing of editors in publishing houses, along with the switch from hundreds of publishings houses to about five in America, five which have twenty or more publishing houses under each umbrella. Okay. I do “get” all that, and I haven’t any logical suggestions for change even if someone would listen to my organizational skills.
However, in today’s ever-changing pre-publication world, more and more editors and agents are saying not to send SASE, and that they will only respond if they are interested in the story. I can see how this frees up their time from even answering thousands of form “no thanks” letters. Yes, I “get” that, too. But where does that place writers? If I submit something to someone/someplace who says they only respond if interested, what do I do with the fact that some writers have had thing accepted more than a year after it was submitted?
I’ve been straining my brain, trying to think of a parallel example of manners with an acquaintance in the social world. They all fall apart. All I can settle in on is that socially acceptable manners in the field of literature is very different than reqular accepted manners in social America. Maybe it’s all about the apples and oranges bit.
I have no answers. I have no suggestions. I submit and I wait. I’m guessing that at the present rate of literary response, I ought to get something published in, oh, maybe 642 years.