Thursday, September 4, 2014

Getting Away by Terry Burns

I just spent labor day in the mountains not far from Ruidoso NM. It was great. I didn't even take my computer and the phone didn't work unless we went into town which we did a couple of times. When we did go into town, we would clean off our email but not work anything unless it was urgent. It was great, sitting around the campfire, playing games in the camper, doing a little writing. A real stress reliever.

But that didn't mean the work went away. Those who work for a big company there may be somebody else that covers your job while you are out. Mine doesn't work that way. Not only that but some people take advantage of a holiday weekend to work up some submissions and send them so that inbox starts stacking up. That happens when I go to a conference as well.

This morning was like a nice extension of the trip. It was refreshingly cool. A nice soak in the hot tub followed by coffee around the gas fire-pit. It was like we were still up there.

But now it is back to work. That's going to mean some negative responses as I mentioned over on Linda Glaz's entry to this blog. Like Linda I hate to have to do that. And it's going to mean trying to clean out this inbox as I talked about over on Andy Scheer's entry to this blog. My inbox applies deadlines for much of what I do. I have things sitting there I have to do for clients, hopefully some things from editors to respond to, maybe even a contract offer or two, various things I have to do and of course all those submissions.

It's dig down and weed out. I generally work it bottom up, oldest items first unless I see something of importance that must be dealt with immediately. My computer sits on an airdesk next to me so I see email every hour of the day that I am awake. It also shows up on my phone if I am away from the house. I watch what is coming in and things stay there until I deal with it. I either handle it or take some initial action and put it in another file for further action. It controls much of my activity.

Editors take precedence of course, followed by clients (who would rather me be responding to editors). I have to carve out some relative uninterrupted time to do full manuscript reads. A submission doesn't advance to the point of me offering representation without this happening and they deserve my full attention (unless something catches on fire and has to be put out).

Much of what is in my inbox can be tossed just from the subject line ( you know what kind of mail we constantly get). I do quickly scan the items in the junk file, usually three to four hundred a day, and sometimes find submissions there. I used to have them automatically delete until I found I was missing some. I still miss some as I fail to see them there, but not many. If you send me something and don't hear back in a couple of weeks it is a good idea to follow up. I don't mind.

If I expect to get to something fairly quickly I may not acknowledge receipt. If it will be a while I do try to send a receipt. It is unusual for me to not respond within a month but on occassion I have got stacked up to the point where it took longer.

But enough talk about all this. It's time to quit dawdling and go to work on that inbox.


Jackie said...

We flew down to Disney World for the long weekend with thirteen members of my family. This included three little girls from one to four years old. It wasn't relaxing, but the joy was there. I took my laptop thinking I'd find time to squeeze in a little work, but it didn't happen. Still I came back refreshed.

It's great to know some agents dig down and weed through query letters.

Thanks for this great insight!

Terry Burns said...

Blame it on my momma, Jackie, I remove my hat when meeting or talking with ladies, open doors and have a modicum of Southern charm. To her not answering every message that is sent to me would be rude. Looks like you had a great trip.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I just wanted to thank you for answering emails. It makes such a difference!! And with all the extra work you put in to do that, you deserve more than a little break!


Rick Barry said...

I'm no agent, but I believe I can relate. My work takes me out of the U.S. several times per year, often to remote regions where there is no wifi. After my return, I have hundreds of emails in my inbox. During those spells, I whittle down the backlog as fast as possible, taking delight as each deletion takes me one step closer to a clean inbox and reduced stress. An email has to be important or intriguing before I spare it for consideration later. I imagine that agents and editors inboxes receive much the same treatment after an influx!

Linda Glaz said...

For me, it's the reads that take the longest. I just can't read without taking notes, making corrections. It's an ocd thing, I guess, because I just can't break the habit, so reads take a while. Another reason I don't like to do them for potential clients without a reading exclusive. To spend 8-10 hours on such a detailed read to have someone say, no thanks, just signed exhausting! So time is def a rare commodity!

Terry Burns said...

Good point, Linda, and I have had that happen. I try to address that when I ask if a project is still available and request a full.

Terry Burns said...

Blame it on my momma, Jackie, I remove my hat when meeting or talking to ladies, open doors and have a modicum of Southern courtesy. That includes answering every message that is sent to me. Sounds like you had a great trip.

Diana Flegal said...

Sounds like a nice break Terry from the routine. And I'm the same as Linda, reading takes me awhile since I have to make suggestions as well. But oh the joy of one that takes our breath away! Makes it all worth while.