If you’ve ever queried or even sent an MS to a publisher and wondered what was taking so long and why the SASE never ever came back, here is the answer, direct from Anthony Trollope’s “The Way We Live Now.”
On the following morning she [Mrs. Carbury] herself took the manuscript to Messrs
Leadham and Loiter, and was hurt again by the small amount of respect
which seemed to be paid to the collected sheets. There was the work of
six months; her very blood and brains,–the concentrated essence of
her mind,–as she would say herself when talking with energy of her own
performances; and Mr Leadham pitched it across to a clerk, apparently
perhaps sixteen years of age, and the lad chucked the parcel
unceremoniously under the counter. An author feels that his work
should be taken from him with fast-clutching but reverential hands,
and held thoughtfully, out of harm’s way, till it be deposited within
the very sanctum of an absolutely fireproof safe. Oh, heavens, if it
should be lost!–or burned!–or stolen! Those scraps of paper, so
easily destroyed, apparently so little respected, may hereafter be
acknowledged to have had a value greater, so far greater, than their
weight in gold! If ‘Robinson Crusoe’ had been lost! If ‘Tom Jones’ had
been consumed by flames! And who knows but that this may be another
‘Robinson Crusoe,’–a better than ‘Tom Jones’?
‘Will it be safe there?’asked Lady Carbury.
‘Quite safe,–quite safe,’ said Mr Leadham, who was rather busy, and
perhaps saw Lady Carbury more frequently than the nature and amount of
her authorship seemed to him to require.
‘It seemed to be,–put down there,–under the counter!’
‘That’s quite right, Lady Carbury. They’re left there till they’re
‘There are two or three dozen going to our reader this week. He’s down
in Skye, and we keep them till there’s enough to fill the sack.’
‘Do they go by post, Mr Leadham?’
‘Not by post, Lady Carbury. There are not many of them would pay the
expense. We send them by long sea to Glasgow, because just at this
time of the year there is not much hurry. We can’t publish before the
Oh, heavens! If that ship should be lost on its journey by
long sea to Glasgow!
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