Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A red-letter day

Dear reviewers:

Big words only make you sound smarter if you use them correctly.

When giving a page number citation, please make sure it is the right page number.

Please keep your wordcount within 10% of the limits provided with the assignment.

Thank you,

Dear authors:

No, seriously, big words only make you sound smarter if you use them correctly.

When running a character name search/replace, make it case sensitive and select "whole word only". Otherwise you end up with interesting new words like "Kateegory" and "munSteveity", which somewhat disrupts the flow of your narrative.

Please make your character and place names pronounceable. It would be nice if they had similar linguistic origins, too. Do not, however, fill your dialogue with alien jargon in italics, no matter how great the temptation.

Thank you,

Dear publishers:

Please send galleys in reusable and/or recyclable packaging. A sturdy paper envelope is fine, really. Your book is not made of glass; there is no need to pack it in bubble wrap.

Comparing your author to three famous dead authors in the same breath, or rather, in the same breathless sentence, is good for a laugh but not much else. The only reason we read the promo copy is to make sure the reviewer isn't cribbing from it. We certainly don't count on it to be accurate about the spelling of the protagonist's name, much less the quality of the writing.

Putting my name on the envelope does nothing but annoy me, since then I have to carry the books to the book room myself rather than having the nice fellow who delivers our mail do it for me. Address it to "F&SF Editor" like our publication guidelines tell you.

Thank you,

Dear fellow editors:

Thank you for making loud, hilarious phone calls during working hours. They provide welcome relief from the frustrations detailed above.

I'm really proud of all of us for how rarely we flail our arms and swear at some of the terrible books we get.

If anyone has a bottle of good whiskey hidden in a filing cabinet someplace, please let me know.

Thank you,
Third cubicle on the left