A Day in the Life of an Editor

An editor's workday is a cacophony of meetings and messages, contracts and crises. Virtually every editor is juggling several projects at a time. She's in the process of negotiating contracts for new titles; she's riding herd on books that are being written by her authors; she's working with the development editor and design team on manuscripts that are going through the editorial and production process; and she's working with the publicity and marketing departments on promoting books that are about to hit the stores.

The official business day at most New York publishing houses runs from 9 A.M. to 5 P.M. But editors typically work ten, twelve, even fifteen or more hours a day, plus weekends, and most of them do so for relatively small salaries. It isn't unusual for an editor to get into the office at 8 A.M. or earlier, to catch up on voice mail and e-mail messages before the telephone starts ringing and the day's round of meetings begins. If he has time, he may go through dozens of queries, requested proposals and manuscripts, and unsolicited proposals and manuscripts that each day's mail deposits on his desk. He may even find time to write a rejection letter or e-mail.

By 9 A.M., most editors are entering the daily routine of meetings. Nearly every day, your editor will have a meeting with the production department to talk about any issues for manuscripts that are being prepared for the printer. She may meet with the art director to discuss cover art for her books, or with the editor-in-chief to discuss negotiations for new titles.

In between these meetings, the editor will periodically check voice mail and e-mail messages and squeeze in time to reply to the most urgent ones. His lunch hour may be spent at his desk returning those calls and e-mails, or he may have a lunch meeting scheduled with an agent or an author. After lunch, he has more meetings to attend and more messages waiting for him. By 5 P.M. his desk is full of packages from FedEx, UPS, and the post office; his inbox has memos and catalog copy and page proofs that need his attention; and there's a fresh batch of voice mail and e-mail messages waiting.

It isn't until after the office closes for the day that the editor has time to read through the stacks of queries, proposals, and manuscripts that have accumulated in his office. He may spend an hour or two at his desk sorting through them, selecting the ones he wants to read on the couch that night and packing them up for the trip home. If he's lucky, he'll get through today's stack by 10 or 11 P.M. And tomorrow, he'll run the same marathon all over again.

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