I may be a pack rat, but I’m not the only one

This blog post title may sound harsh, but that’s not how I intended yet. Last week, while working at Random House, I learned about something amazing: literary research collections. It started when I was assigned the task of sorting and mailing FOUL matter (manuscript versions of books once the book has been published, including copyedited versions, first-pass galleys, etc.). Turns out, all that paper gets SAVED. Yes, dear readers, I am in the right business. I hate throwing things away, especially things I’ve worked hard on, and apparently so do publishers.

Since I work for a children’s imprint, I sent all the materials to the Kerlan Collection at the University of Minnesota. But another good collection is the De Grummond Collection Children’s Literature Collection at the University of Southern Mississippi.

Now, some authors want to keep everything, which is fine, I completely understand that–especially if it’s your first book. Some authors don’t mind sending everything, which I hear the collectors love because they want to analyze every stage of a manuscript. Some authors, however, don’t want people to know about their process, and only allow the copyedited version of the manuscript and the first-pass galley to be sent. And this is where the sorting came in.

Some other interesting tidbits I learned at work:

  • AA stands for author’s notes, which appear on a galley and are their property
  • You should keep all correspondence for legal purposes
  • Regarding the copyrights of a letter: the content belongs to the author, but the physical letter belongs to the receiver (Normally this doesn’t matter, especially in the age of emails, but back in the day, J.D. Salinger was able to stop a biography about him from coming out by claiming the rights to all the letters the author had gathered and not allowing the author to use them in his book)

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