Sunday, February 16, 2014

How late is too late?


Well, I'm pleased to report that today, I sent of a manuscript of an article I've been working on. Great, right? Here's the catch: the article was due in January. Towards the end of that month, I told the editor that I'd be about a week late. Wrong: it turned out to be two weeks. Granted, that's not a huge amount of time. But still.

I'm glad to have this not hanging over my head. But I know enough people who have taken on the task of editing volumes of essays and special issues of journals to know that the M.I.A. author is the bane of the editor's existence. A very common bane.

Being past-due on a promised piece is a great motivator: I've written faster in the last six weeks than I have, possibly, in the last six years. No one sets out to be the author who makes the editor tear their hair out. Getting a reputation for that sort of thing can create problems down the road. Yet somehow, many of us find ourselves in that position.

I guess this post doesn't really have a thesis statement. But I thought I'd throw it out there, in case any of the six readers who still check in here now and then have any stories from either side of the process that they'd like to share.


Comradde PhysioProffe said...

Two weeks late for a stated deadline like that is at least a month early for the real editorial deadline.

Janice said...

Way to go! I have to chase down a couple of late contributors to a collection and, like CPP, I think that two weeks late is laughing! You're still golden, never fear.

Anonymous said...

As someone editing a collection where not one but two contributors are over three months late, I say two weeks is nothing (I had, in fact, prepared for delays of that sort--not for the ones I am managing, however). COngrats on finishing the piece!

Fie upon this quiet life! said...

If it weren't for deadlines, I'd get nothing done. That said, life happens, and I think that being 2 weeks late is really not so bad. 2 months is pushing it. 2 weeks is no biggie.

Flavia said...

Agreed with all the previous commenters. I try very, very hard to hit my deadlines, but for a big project where the editors have a lot of difference pieces to wrangle, a week or two is fine (and probably leaves you in the middle of the pack, punctuality-wise).

It's like with student papers: I need to penalize late papers (unless the student requests an extension in advance) to encourage good habits...but from my own perspective, I really don't care if a few roll in a few days late. I have plenty of others to occupy me!

And as with student papers, I'd rather have the work be a little late and be good than be on time and be a bunch of uninspired crap.

Anonymous said...

I've had an opposite problem. I'm a contributor, and I'm having a bear of a time getting the editor to respond to my queries. At one point (New Years a couple years ago), I submitted my chapter a month late (with permission), and didn't hear back. I didn't necessarily expect a response; when I worked on an academic journal, I got accustomed to long timelines for everything. In May, the editor sent me an email asking for my contribution. Since then I've been very careful to always ask for a response to my emails to confirm her receipt.

My latest communication with her was in October over final changes requested by the publisher (I argued that the changes aren't academically sound), and I haven't heard back. I've sent emails every month or so since, and still have had no reply. Any suggestions?

Susan said...

I turned in an article several months late at the end of January. There were three of us who were finishing articles post-Christmas. Then the editor returned it (with useful comments) the following day. Still making those revisions.... I don't feel too guilty, because the last time I did something for a special issue, publication was delayed by over a year by people who were late.

Historiann said...

Congratulations! I'm with the folks who say two weeks is nothing.

I have an essay in an edited collection that has been held up for six months because of ONE late contributor. The editor in that case is hopping angry, and has decided to go ahead without that author, which is as it should be.

As Amstr's experience suggests, communication is everything. All I can think is that your editor on this project might be enduring some illness or personal tragedy now. Maybe consulting people who know hir will give you some insight? Regardless, it's your right to pull an essay from a collection if you're concerned that it won't see daylight in a timely fashion.