I'm generally very positive about my job and what I do, even when I'm crazy busy and unmotivated, but since it's rainy and gloomy and I'm feeling in a bit of a funk, I thought I'd focus on the negatives for a change. People always ask me what I like about my job, but rarely ask me what I hate. Well, here is what I hate about my job.
1) I hate rejecting manuscripts. This is probably the hardest part about my job. At the SCBWI Oregon retreat, the other editor there talked about an altered decline letter they have hanging up in the office where instead of "your manuscript" it says "you" so instead of "your manuscript is not satisfying enough" or "After careful consideration, we must pass on your manuscript" it says "YOU are not satisfying enough" or "After careful consideration, we must pass on YOU." It's a reminder to them that there is a person on the other end of the letter, and to that person, to that author, we aren't just rejecting their work, but are rejecting them.
I am aware of this each and every time I say no--I know that I'm stomping on someone's dream. And although years of being in the industry has made me a little more desensitized to this, it's still the number one part of my job that I hate doing. And that leads me to number 2:
2) I hate not being able to sign up everything that I want to work on. Oh, I know that in reality, this is a good thing. If I don't have the support of my publisher, it wouldn't be fair to the author or illustrator or book to publish it. But there have been times where I've been so sure of something, or so passionate about a book, and not being able to work on it kills me. I'm envious of the days where editors had the power to just sign something up on their own. I think in many ways, today's system makes more business sense, but still.
3) I hate being the bearer of bad news. This is related to #1. I don't like letting people down. "We aren't going to do any special marketing for your book" "Your book is out of stock in the warehouse right now" "B&N and Borders aren't taking your book" "Your book got a terrible review" "Your book isn't selling" "There was a mistake printed in your book" "I know you aren't happy with the cover, but we're going to publish it anyway" "The deal for this foreign edition of your book fell through" "We can't give you a higher advance" "Your book is out of print" "The acquisition committee wasn't excited about the project." I get to give people good news, too, but sometimes it feels like it's always bad news I have break to the authors, illustrators, and agents.
4) This is a more minor thing, but I hate writing jacket copy and catalog copy and other kinds of marketing copy. It just doesn't come naturally to me, and I feel like I'm constantly pulling teeth doing it. I'd like to think I'm getting better at it with practice, but I still dread it and always put it off as much as possible.
And now I feel all gross for using the "H" word so much. Kinda dirty. Funny how that is--I was so trained not to say "hate" as a kid. But the good news is that I was trying to make this a list of 10, or even 5, and you know what? I can't think of anything else that I hate about my job right now. Sure, I can think of little annoyances or pet peeves, but overall, this post has put me in a better mood already, because I know the loves outweigh the hates.