Saturday, August 22
Ahhhhh, go ahead, breathe! It’s about time. Holding my breath for all of Friday was getting old. Saturday was a much more enjoyable day. I spent the morning moderating a writers workshop with the pros, William Campbell Powell, Devon Monk, and Kay Kenyon. I’ve been moderating for a good many years and I have to say, the last few workshops I’ve moderated have been filled with really good manuscipts and this was no exception. The pros really delivered, a far better experience than moderating my last Worldcon. They all really impressed me with how engaged, pertinent, and cogent their critiques were.
By the time I got out of there, it was well past lunch time. None of my usual cronies were available for lunch so I thought I’d go on the cheap and duck across the street to Chili’s, taking advantage of the fact that I could breathe outside. Unfortunately, others must have had the same idea, for the wait was about a half hour. So I decided to head back to the expensive, but very good, hotel restaurant. On the way, who should I pass but ElizaBeth Gilligan, DAW author and friend from a writer’s group a long time ago. In tow, she has two women. Beth gives me a big smile as we pass and says, “Hi, Jennifer! This is Sheila, my editor. We’re just going to lunch.”
Be still my heart! Sheila Gilbert! I have wanted to submit to her and meet her for years. So I shove out my hand and say, “Nice to meet you. I’ve heard a lot about you from Beth.” And with that, I kept my cool…and let the DAW editor off the hook. I didn’t tackle her or pitch her or give her my business card…And I SO wanted to! But maybe someday in a cover letter I’ll say, oh yes, we’ve met before.
So I walked off on cloud nine into the Grand Hotel restaurant. It was empty save for two people at a little table. Whole restaurant to chose from and the waitress sits me right next to the only other two in there. Practically on top of them. Grumble grumble grumble…oh, hey, I know the name on that badge…
HOLY CON ANGEL! That’s Tony Daniel…Baen Editor. And he’s sitting with a woman who is obviously a big agent and been in the industry a long time. Gawds above, I wish I’d gotten her name! I sat there and listened to them while they talked shop. I’m not going to reveal what they said, cause, well, I was skating on thin moral ice eavesdropping already, but I will share the one topic that really got my attention. They talked about editors and the unrealistic expectations people have of them. This is a subject I can relate to.
I so wanted to speak up and join their conversation but that same annoying voice in me that kept me from jumping poor Sheila stomped down this impulse, too. I decided when I left I would say one thing. It took my entire meal to get the courage up to speak, but when I got up, I shared my own story of editors being unappreciated.
When I was in educational publishing with Addison Wesley/Simon & Schuster, I made half what my husband made. (NOTE: if you want to get rich, publishing is likely not a best first choice.) Still, I got endless complaints about how expensive the text books were. Every time I said I worked in textbooks, that’s the complaint folks would make. I just felt like saying, “Oh yeah? Tell you what. I’ll exchange my paycheck for yours any day of the week!”
The agent was gracious and seemed genuinely engaged and exchanged a few sentences with me. I finished up by going to see Tony Daniel read from his upcoming fantasy series. I’ll be looking for it if only to relive my day of meeting big agents and editors!