Friday, September 01, 2006

Spam Filters, Interns, Assistants and Other "Helpers"

Summer is over and along with saying our good-byes to half-day Fridays we are also bidding adieu to our interns. Hopefully they are walking away from the experience with a new knowledge of the publishing industry. I know that over the past few months I, for one, have learned a lot.

For nearly seven years we have been single-handedly operating BookEnds—without the help of assistants, interns, or even a decent spam filter. Which means I have been opening and logging in my own mail, reading all of my own submissions, answering my own emails, as well as sharing the responsibility of general “to whom it may concern” submissions, and cleaning out hundreds (no exaggeration) of junk mails daily. In addition to that I’ve been doing what’s expected of an agent by her clients, tracking the progress of submissions, careers, payments, royalties, and everything else an agent does in the course of a day. Now, I’m not complaining, many agents do it alone, I’m just pointing out (maybe even to myself) how much I’ve been doing.

Well, the summer of 2006 changed all that and it was quite a learning experience for me. In addition to finally having someone else open and log in my mail, I also got a new, considerably stronger, spam filter. This has changed the way I live! Okay, maybe just the way I work. What’s been most interesting about this is how the control freak in me so quickly reared its ugly head. With someone else tracking my submissions, and something else weeding out the junk, I’m amazed at how much more I can get done in a day. I’m also dismayed by how nervous I can get when this is out of my hands. What have I missed? What was deleted by accident? What if the rejection letter was written wrong or the package sealed incorrectly? Seriously?! Am I worrying about these things?

Yes. Sadly.

Well, it’s time to stop the worrying and thank you, Intern, for being responsible, reliable, and dang good at what you do. You have taught me a lot, about myself and about what our new assistant can and should be doing for me. It’s time to let go, allow someone else to help pick up the slack, and spend my time where it should be spent—on my clients.

—Jessica

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