Tuesday, May 06, 2008

I'm not sure what this means but here it is:

Three years ago I answered all my email every day.

Two years ago, I answered all my email within about two days.

Last year I counted myself "caught up" if I answered them within a week, had fewer than ten pending, and cleaned out my mailbox regularly.

Tonight I have 100 emails pending, I've not had fewer than 100 in over a month, and that's working assiduously every single day to keep it at 100 and not 200.

And that's not counting queries, or the stuff for query shark cause those go in separate folders.

This is just regular work: client mail, editor mail, colleague mail. None of its junk, none of its listserv mailing list, none of its anything I could easily throw away.

That's what it looks like here now, at midnight. I don't tell you this to complain, I love my job a lot, and I'm glad to be this busy. I tell you this only so you don't wonder if I'm dead.

For what it's worth.

17 comments:

corine @ Hidden In France said...

I know precisely what you mean. In the last year I 've gone from loving technology to feeling that technology has me on a very tight leash.

AlexF said...

Janet:

Have you considered outsourcing your email? Time Ferris on his Four Hour Work Week blog has a great post about that as well as a bunch of other posts about dealing with email overload.

http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/category/e-mail-detox/

Janet Reid said...

so, what would I outsource? Client mail? I think that's pretty much a non-starter but if any of my clients reading this wouldn't mind being outsourced, let me know.

Editor emails? Hell if I'm doing that! That's my MONEY!

Colleague emails? Well, no, that's the stuff with all the info I need to help me do my job better.

This email isn't routine crapola; it's the woof and warp of my flying carpet career. It's my actual work. There's just more and more of it.

JKB said...

You're right, Janet, email is taking over. I have the same problem, and I'm certainly no agent that accepts email queries.

Could you get an intern for those email queries? Or...I dunno exactly how to help you with the Client mail, that would be disastrous to outsource.

I don't know if you're a GTD (Getting Things Done) sort of girl, but I find that helped me sort out my email problem a little better...

Just my two cents, dunno if it helps...

Southern Writer said...

Ah, that's one of the reasons I quit blogging. Between email, posting every day, and visiting not only the agents and editors blogs, but those of the people who visited mine, and trying to keep up with our conversations, even if it was only a line or two ... ten hours a day would be gone before I knew it. I often wondered how people who were blogging from their day jobs and supposedly writing as well, could possibly get it all done.

kitty said...

Is this a case of the curse of success?

...

Heidi the Hick said...

Information age problem. My husband gets so many emails in a day that he always has about 100 unread. Always. He has to look at the subject lines to see what's immediate (about upcoming work) and leave the rest. His workdays are usually about 12-14 hours, so there's no time for much else. So Janet, I totally understand what you've got there.

Email is so darn easy to SEND that I think we forget how much time it takes up. Also many of us are too wordy. Like me...

Mags said...

I'm very glad to hear you're not dead, Janet.

Dead is bad. And frankly, you really don't have time right now to indulge in that sort of lollygagging...

Josephine Damian said...

Janet: a nit wit from my writers' group was sending me so many long winded emails, (the price I paid for being a judge in our short story contest) I finally had to block her. Answering her emails took too much time.

They have seminars and workshops on taming the "email demon" - they say answer or archive/categorize by priority every email as it comes in - don't let them pile up.

Southern Writer: I hear you. Oh boy, do I hear you. I'm a few weeks away from taking a 3 month long blog break which I'll probably spend getting caught up with email. lol

Just_Me said...

I'm glad to hear you're yet in the land of the living. I have no clue how to solve your slew of e-mail. Maybe if you told new authors you only took hand-written manuscripts?

k said...

also glad you're not dead.

Aimless Writer said...

The response to my query came pretty quick compared to some who are still trapped in emailland somewhere. It was a rejection-but I'm sure someday I'll have something you like. :)
Relax, you're not doing so bad. More emails mean you're more popular!

Shannon said...

Hey, think back to before we had computers...how much paper you'd be receiving right now!

Geez, I often wonder how books even got published back then. Were agents and publishers that bogged down in hard copy mail?

I can't even imagine. And I can't believe some still want snail mail.

ChrisEldin said...

Do these emails have any patterns? For example, are 50 of them asking you if you have time for lunch on such and such a date? If so, perhaps you can post your calendar, ala blog format, and that issue might take care of itself.

Are they looking for updates on certain things (contracts, what have you...) Perhaps you can include this information in your calendar so people won't have to email you with questions.

Kelley said...

Being dead is a downer, indeed.

shannon said-I can't even imagine. And I can't believe some still want snail mail.

I can't believe most will take email. Theorectically, it's SO easy to hit send, far easier than using up time and cash to snail. I'm sure agents start seeing an increase in queries, especially in...well...shall we just call them interesting queries when they switch to email.

No. I'm not at all convinced email is such a blessing in querying. I do love it for responses, though.

Loretta Ross said...

Outsource? You're going to send us to Mexico? I understand you're not supposed to drink the water there. Will there be tequila? And someone to keep Mindy from hogging all the cabana boys?

But seriously -- I was thinking about this yesterday at my no-brainer day job and it seems to me that you've reached a point where you're going to have to have help. If you get 200 emails per day and spend only an average of 2 minutes on each one, that's still six hours and forty minutes JUST on email per day.

Could an assistant maybe sort and summarize them for you? Deal with routine stuff and give you regular updates about what's come in? And perhaps if a client had something they wanted to go directly to you we could put something like "PERSONAL" or "CONFIDENTIAL" or "THIS EMAIL WILL SELF-DESTRUCT IN 30 SECONDS" sort of thing in the subject line.

My two cents

Janet Reid said...

I wonder if you were thinking about this at the exact same time I was talking about you to an editor. Hmmm.

Actually, two minutes is an overestimate. I spend 30 seconds on some, fewer on a lot, and five minutes on maybe one in a hundred.