Dear Editor, Why are Schedules Important?

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So here’s something that is a scene of perennial tension in the world of publishing. Timelines! Dreaded and feared by all. Authors hate them. So do editors. Love it, hate it, can’t do without it!

Now I’m on the other side so I wouldn’t presume knowledge of what authors think. But they often seem to not understand why that one week or two of delay makes such a difference! Why we raise hell for delayed responses. So here’s why.

Before anything else, let me tell you, dear author, the truth. You are not the only one in my life. Your words are not the only ones streaming through my soul. As my boss breathes fire down every pore I have upon my person, I have about three manuscripts in my kitty, at any given time, waiting to be unleashed. While you seem to believe things happen like magic, as you are painstakingly charting out responses to my queries, and remaining dead silent about having skipped 10 days over the deadline, your project is not sitting silently on my table awaiting your second coming.

At this very moment, I have just finalised the cover spread, having finalised the blurb earlier (which you remained silent about as well! But never mind. We shall deal with that in good time. Like the North, we Editors too never forget). I have been chasing multiple checkpoints in the company to do the cast off, finalise cost estimates, prepare the contract, chase you down to sign it, driving the typesetter nuts with the layout, pacifying him over days as he waits in agony for YOUR manuscript to be finalised for typesetting! Creating sales and marketing briefs, preparing the catalogue entry, clearing copyright permissions, calming down the cover designer who has been going crazy waiting for the spine width to finalise the cover (which cannot happen, dear author, until your manuscript is typeset, you see!). Their payments are waiting, they are driving me up the wall, you decide to take off on a three-week vacation to boot. LIFE IS FABULOUS.

And all this while, I have been sending you polite little reminders on the lines of ‘May I please request you to respond at the earliest’; ‘I hope you received my last email’; ‘We have been getting very anxious’; blah blah blah. Which all translates to one thing: ‘Where the heck have you disappeared!!!’

And suddenly one fine day, when life is blue, a beep rings out saying ‘One Unread Message’. And there it is. You have finally returned. And all is well. For now. Until the typeset proofs arrive. When you decide to do a vanishing act again. Author: Codename AWOL.

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