Manuscript notes on the page

Miss Snark,

I have heard that The Very Lucky will receive comments on their manuscript, even if it's rejected (OK, not THAT lucky!). Do editors ever scribble their notes right on the ms? And therefore... am I risking NOT getting their precious (illegible) words of wisdom by choosing to not having the ms returned? Or does this so seldom happen that it doesn't matter?

I've never gotten a ms back with notes ON the ms. I always get editorial letters. I send individual pages back sometimes if I'm working with a client or close-to-being a client. I really really really avoid sending 16plus ounce packages cause standing in line is a frigging waste of time.

Other people may have different experiences but all experiences before 2002 and the postal reg change are not applicable now.


Lumife said...

Merry Christmas and greetings from Portugal.

Anonymous said...

Dear Miss Snark,

I apologize that this is not topical to this post, but I was catching up on the Snarkenings here and read over your comments on MFA programs. Considering that I am licking envelopes for admission to MFA programs as we speak, I nearly choked when I read your post and that (brilliant) article that you linked.

I have a JD, though for the past two years my legal behind has been parked at a large university as a lowly lecturer teaching political science (the bar exam is for chumps, yall--the only bar exam I want to pass involves gin and martini glasses). While I have dreams of being A Great Writer, I just want to be involved in the literary world for my living. Ideally, I would love to use my JD to be a literary agent like yourself, but I feel so rusty from my time as an undergrad writing major, I thought the MFA would be a good way to get my writing back up to speed and get my head back in a literary manner. Is this a waste of time? Should I instead give the Large University a not-so-nice parting hand gesture and find an internship? But I need cash--I, too, have a canine in my life, though she is less of a Killer Yap and more of a Passive-Aggressive Woof, and she needs to be kept in kibble.

What do you think? Am I wasting two years in my attempt to get back in the game?

Thank you so much for being a reason to get out of bed in the morning because reading 50 essays on why democracy is "super good" (direct quotation, sadly) can get depressing. At best.

Anonymous said...

Good Lord, I would drop that MFA is a nano-second; get a job at a local paper, write regularly, and get paid for it...on the subject of writing comments on ms, MS is quite correct--it's rarely done.

litagent said...

To Anonymous (1) -- you don't need an MFA to be an agent, and certainly not to be a writer. If the business side of publishing is your interest, apply for the Publishing Procedures course at Columbia or Stanford. Or, if you can afford it, take an entry level job in either a publishing house or an agency. In any of these cases you will be exposed to the real industry.

If writing is what you want to do, I agree with Anonymous (2), just start writing -- newspaper articles, magazine pieces, short stories, whatever gets you putting words on paper.

Regarding comments, I do tend to make comments on mss., minimally proofreading corrections -- I can't help myself -- IF I think the ms. has some potential, even if I'm not going to take it on. And I do return full manuscripts, even though it means shlepping to the PO (sometimes it takes me a week to get there, but I get there eventually).