Showing posts from June, 2009

Publishing Process Part 1.5: Editorial Meetings

As previously mentioned, Editorial Meetings are pretty much the pinnacle of THE INTERN's existence, right up there with opening her backpack to find that her beloved Techie Boyfriend has packed her a delightful lunch complete with See's chocolates for dessert (which happened today! graow!). There's something tense and exciting about sitting around a table with all those short-listed manuscripts piled up in front of each editor, waiting for each one to be handled and chewed over. It's like watching Olympic diving. Hot.

Editorial meetings are where manuscripts in the "maybe" pile either get voted off the island or stay on for another round. Before becoming an intern, INTERN supposed this involved a lot of vigorous debate over the deeper meaning of a given book, its cultural significance, its zeitgeist.

What really goes on in editorial meetings is a lot like what goes on when a bunch of girlfriends go out shopping for clothes.

Many acquisitions can be boil…


INTERN meant to continue Publishing Process 101 today, but she is gargleshmazzled to report that she has just taken part in her first ever Well-Oiled Publishing Lunch!!!

Actually, there was no Lunch, just Oil, which came in fancy upside-down pyramid shaped glasses—some kind of clear liquor with a spasm of fruity stuff lurking at the bottom. INTERN doesn't know what exactly what hers was, because she got befuddled by the extensive menu and had a knowledgeable Senior Editor order for her. But whatever it was, it did the trick.

Over the course of this WOPL, INTERN learned:

-that Editors are real people with real life concerns—for example, one Editor is being stalked by her creepy phone-breathing ex-boyfriend, and another (gay) Editor is stressed out about seeing his homophobic grandmother on the fourth of July, and another Editor just needs to find a good cupcake recipe.

-that certain Authors are not real people and have only psychotic concerns—for example, one Author is threatening t…

Publishing Process-o-rama: Part 1

What EXACTLY happens when you submit a book proposal to a publisher? INTERN spills all!

Step 1. Your manuscript arrives in Big Fancy Publishing Office*

Big Fancy Publishing Office is not as moneyed and luxurious as you might be imagining. We use regular whiteboards for which there are never enough or functional markers. We have the same assortment of humorous or titillating coffee mugs as any office. We do have a very nice leather couch which editors occasionally nap on, and a little altar thing with candles and incence and flowers and crystals and various voodoo contraptions.
INTERN is pretty sure this is a standard fixture, but who knows?

Step 2: The Editorial Assistant logs your manuscript.

The Editorial Assistant is a very bright, very pretty young woman who could easily be a brain surgeon or a supermodel or an astronaut, but instead she has elected to be here at the publishing house logging YOUR manuscript and either farming it out to the appropriate editor or tossing it to TH…

gut-churner #1

This morning INTERN woke up in a panic from a nightmare that she had spent her entire advance on a single trip to COSTCO.
Although the dream itself has long since faded, INTERN has been feverish all morning, and feverishly drowning her anxiety in a bottle of The Chicago Manual of Style.

Now tell me, once and for all: when you put sentences after a colon, DO YOU CAPITALIZE?


hot publishing trendz '09

Hot tips fresh from the past 5-6 editorial and pub board meetings:

-Vampires are IN.

-"me"-related books are OUT. ("it isn't all about you any more! now it's about "us"!)

-Twelve-step book are IN

-superfoods are on their way OUT.

-simplicity and simple living are IN

Do the math people. We're looking for twelve-step programs to help vampires get over their narcissism, using a diet rich in white bread and peanut butter, while living in straw-bale houses.

Also: Nemesis Intern spotted this morning on bicycle, coming from opposite direction of INTERN riding her bicycle. Nemesis Intern's bicycle is yellow, skinny tires, with a high-tech flashing red reflector thingy on the front that is probably designed to produce epileptic seizures in rival cyclists. If you see him, ruffle his hair.

fun tips on author questionnaires

Haggard night last night—Author Questionnaire for INTERN's doomed and wretched book was due today. The 15-page beast is now sitting in the inbox of a heaven-sent Publicity Lady thousands of miles away, along with a snaggle-toothed Author Photograph taken by an old friend. This was a fantastic learning experience, so collected below are THE INTERN's gleanings, in no particular order.

Gleaning #1: The Author Questionnaire is not a list of cute, fun questions like "Do you have any pets? What are their names?"

"Author Questionnaire" is a polite euphemism for "Time To Rake Yourself Over The Coals of Your Own Obscurity". It's a tool for helping publicity people decide how to best market your book, taking advantage of all the exposure, contacts, and experience you already have—or don't have. They wanna know who already knows you, and who might want to know you. For an unknown author, this is surprisingly hard to come up with. Be prepared for…

envelope gum: it's what's for dinner

INTERN is thinking of writing a letter to the USDA advising them to change the food pyramid to reflect the reality of interns and other wild creatures in these troubled times.

Bottom half of pyramid: Cookie crumbs and half-eaten chocolate bunnies (seasonal) swept off table after editorial meetings.

Top half of pyramid: Lick-and-stick gum on envelopes and postage stamps. INTERN read somewhere these are 2 calories a pop. INTERN wonders if it is possible to live on envelope-licking—although a truly wise INTERN would simply eat the whole envelope.

Nutritional considerations aside, writers please harken: Every time INTERN has to lick an envelope to send you a decline or request, it takes A YEAR off her tongue's life. At the rate she's going, she will be tongueless by the time she's 25, like that sparrow in the fairy tale. INTERN's heart leaps with spasms of delight when someone's SASE is self-adhesive. Not only are they fun to stick, the INTERN uses those strips of…

Monday scamduzzlery

Let it be noted that there was no coffee in the pot when THE INTERN showed up this morning.

Kindly Editor to INTERN: "Would you mind running up to the fifth floor and borrowing a stapler from Wusiness Beek? Ours just broke and we can't find the other one."

INTERN: "No problem!"

INTERN has never actually been to the necktie-studded environs of the Wusiness Beek office, though she frequently runs into WB editors in the lobby. Putting on her most professional air, she skips up two flights of stairs, pushes through a heavy fire door and arrives in a chrome-and-mahogany receptorium with the words WUSINESS BEEK displayed prominently on the wall.

A young man, presumably an intern himself, is sitting at the desk. Although THE INTERN has never seen this young fellow before, his eyes sparkle with (menace?) (recognition?) when she appears.

INTERN: "Hello there! I come from [publisher redacted]. May we borrow a stapler?"

Nemesis Intern, smiling: "Do you …


Day NOT done with burrito.

After burrito, INTERN checks her e-mail and sees 25-question author questionnaire from her publisher's publicity department, due in a couple days.


The author questionnaire is designed to extract every last bit of news-worthiness from a writer's tortured flesh. And THE INTERN is nothing if not completely un-newsworthy. THE INTERN is not interviewable or photographable. Her looks, Valentine, are laughable. She's basically a wretch.

Feeling bleak, THE INTERN sends boyfriend out for a quart of Jack Daniels (actually, sends him out for one of those delicious Mexican popsicles, coconut flavor) and gets down to business.

Question 10: Who would you like to endorse your book?

Dear Publicity people. Here is my list:

1. Barack Obama
2. The Moon

INTERN too drunk to go on.

Day in the Life

What does an editorial intern do all day, you ask? It goes something like this. This applies to pretty much any intern at any publishing house, unless someone wants to come along and prove me wrong.

7:00 Wake up, put on clothes that are lying on floor next to bed.

7:10 Eat bowl of discount cereal with slosh of roommate's milk.

7:30 Leave house. Ride beat-ass bicycle down the street to the commuter train station, busk/panhandle/turn tricks for train fare.

8:00 Get on train, holding bicycle with one hand while holding ceiling strap with other. Dodge dirty looks from other passengers, who are afraid of getting THE INTERN's bicycle filth on their business pants.

8:45 Arrive in the city. Haul bike up the stairs from the train station, bike remaining mile to Big Ole Fancy Office Building downtown.

9:00 Arrive at Big Ole Fancy Office Building. Tip proverbial hat to doorman on way in. Haul bicycle up three flights of stairs to avoid embarassing anyone in the elevator.

9:15 Tidy up in …

the edge

Hey guys.

INTERN here, fresh out of a two-hour long editorial meeting. Breath smelling like coffee, fingers ink-stained. Ears ringing with the news of the latest acquisition. Ready to spill the redacted-for-publisher-confidentiality goods.

So here's the story. About three months ago we got a submission from this lady who had developed a program for, shall we say, learning to love your headaches. THE INTERN dutifully read this book proposal, which detailed a complete self-helpy guide advising readers to stop fooling around with Tylenol and ice packs and start loving your headaches instead. It was kinda interesting, kinda schlocky in places—it read like it had been written by one of those chronic seminar attendees, the kind with frizzy hair and a purse full of dubious-looking natural snacks. Nevertheless, it wasn't exactly bad—so THE INTERN jotted down some notes and passed it on to our health editor.

The manuscript then sat in the health editor's box for several month…

Slush Pile Boogie

THE INTERN interrupts her daily romp through the slush pile to bring you this newsbreak: God is not on your team. Today alone, THE INTERN has had to send rejection letters to three people who thought he was . Newsflash: If God was on your team, you wouldn't need to be sending me a book proposal. That shit would come to me in a vision, and I would contact you.

In particular, THE INTERN's life would be less full of bullshit if people would stop sending in letters like the following:

Exhibit A:

"Dear Publisher,

I have been trying to manifest the perfect publisher for my manuscript for the past seven years. I felt a strong energetic connection to your publishing house when I ran my finger over your listing in Writer's Market, and feel strongly that your house will help me manifest my world-changing book."

Dear Angel-Balls,

I'm manifesting a rejection letter.

Exhibit B:

"Dear Publisher,

Every night, my children (Orbit, 6, and Chewy, 3 and a half) pray to Jesus…