A few weeks ago while contemplating topics for my next blog post, someone asked me if I'd write an "A Day In the Life Of" post. It seems there are other geeks out there just like me who have wondered what it's like to be an in-house fiction editor. Far be it from me not to oblige such an adoring fan.
Typically, I dislike posts about personal stuff. Seriously, if you wanted to know what colour socks I was wearing or what was in my lunch last Tuesday, you could just check out my Facebook page. Readers come here for editorial tidbits---nuggets of wisdom that can be found no where else on the planet Earth. Right?
Er, okay. Let's do the A Day In the Life Of post.
When I read a submission, I look for several things: 1) a really great author's voice, 2) a unique or otherwise interesting concept, 3) characters I care about, 4) a well developed plot arc, and 5) that the story is appropriate for F&W readers and fits the company brand.
Most of the submissions we receive are picture book texts. I recently wrote a post about picture books and some of the specific concerns involved with them, which I invite you to check out if such things interest you. If you are familiar with that post, you will know that, though we get zillions of picture book texts, we take on only a very few of them every year. So, if you do the math, you will be able to see that the second half of my typical morning is spent writing rejection letters. I know; it saddens me too.
Lately, I've been doing a lot of catch up stuff. The thing about publishing is that it involves a whole lot of reading. This suits me just fine, of course. Seriously, best job in the world---I freaking love to read. The problem is, however, reading takes time. Full manuscript numbers tend to become backlogged.
I am a fast reader. I just am. And it's a good thing, too; over the course of the past two weeks, I have read eight full manuscripts. That's eight raw novels, folks, not yet trimmed to their fighting weight. These are not edits I'm doing, I'm simply taking in the story as a consumer would. I do tend to keep my notepad nearby and my pencil sharp, and I often make notes and observations as I read, but these are for my own use, no one else's...unless the manuscript is acquired, then those notes could come in very handy indeed.
This past week in between manuscripts I have 1) proofread a Canadian weather trivia calendar including 365 days worth of proper nouns to look up and facts to confirm, 2) created and formatted a works cited list for an upcoming nonfiction book, 3) researched and documented the school curriculum for kids in grades K--4, and 4) sorted and submitted titles for competitions. Oh, and I've sweated a lot in the brain area.
Before I leave at 4 o'clock sharp, I check my emails one last time to make sure there isn't anything urgent I forgot to do or otherwise neglected. Then I clean off my desktop to make way for whatever I will find sitting on it in the morning when I return with my half empty travel mug of coffee.
So there you have it, folks. My temporary job in a nutshell. My last day is August 28th, which will be a sad day. Being an in-house editor (that is physically in the HOUSE) is absolutely the best job in the world. Sure, it's harried sometimes when deadlines are looming and jobs are progressing slowly. But really, I read all day. What's not to like about that?