When I first started sending books and articles to editors in hopes of being selected for publication, the passage of time possessed few markers.
For example, the mail arrived once a day. There was no trail like this on the touchtone wall phone:
- Wednesday, 10 AM: Your Amazon order was received.
- Wednesday, 8 PM: Your Amazon order was shipped.
- Thursday, 11 AM: Your Amazon package is scheduled for delivery tomorrow.
- Friday, 9 AM: Your Amazon package will arrive today before 8 PM.
- Friday, 5 PM: Your Amazon package was delivered to your mailbox.
Instead, you went to a store and stood in line to have your manuscript copied at great expense and the expense of about an hour of time. Then you went to the office supply store to buy a padded envelope. Then you went to the post office and stood in line to have the package weighed and stamped for delivery. Then finally, off it went, into the wild blue yonder.
Then you waited. Mail arrival was a momentous event. It happened, then it was over. Once. A. Day. Except on Sundays and Federal Holidays.
Now, seeing a U.S. Postal Service truck making rounds on Sunday is common, at least near my house. And for some time, through texts and email, we’ve had hundreds of chances every day to touch base with anyone, anywhere, to find out anything.
As for your manuscript? I’d say you could trace its progress through the mail system online, but few use hard copy now. Instead, you can email your agent or editor any time and hope for a quick response.
Today, I handle way more questions and issues over email than I ever would have if I had been a literary agent when Ma Bell (the only telephone company) charged by the minute for service. Few people wanted to spend money to call “long distance” and rack up charges. When they did, the call was usually important. Answering a letter? At least a half hour to compose and type, three days to get to the recipient.
I’m grateful for my ability to interact quickly and efficiently on dozens of issues with as many people daily even though all the communication seems to make time speed along. Bottom line? Agent time really does move faster for us than it does for writers. That’s never changed, and probably never will. Just know that we’re not setting out to ignore you – we may have lost track of time!
Do you wish times and things were simpler? How?
What do you see as the biggest benefit to being wired all the time? The biggest drawback?