Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Day in the Life of an Editor

An editor’s life is a piece of cake, right? I get to read all day long, inserting the occasional comma into work and "traumatizing" authors with my "unfair" edits. Then at five, I knock off for the day.


You want the real story? Here’s a look at my typical day as a full-time editor:

I start my day around 6:00 AM often from a dream in which I’m panicking over a manuscript being unfinished and unready for publication. Thankful to be awake and away from the nightmare, I get up for the day, stumble into the living room and boot up my computer.

Coffee is set to brew at 5:45, so it’s ready and waiting. I suck down a cup of coffee. I live on caffeine. Generally, at this point, the dog has discovered I’m awake and she runs back and forth between me and the backdoor until I stumble over and let her outside. I then make the first attempt to pry the children from bed. I always fail and must resort to threats and bribes. The first child leaves for the bus at the ungodly time of 6:45. The other leaves at 7 -- though, truthfully, he could leave later, but like his dad, he’s a social butterfly and uses his extra 45 minutes at school to talk…and snog with his girlfriend.

I check my email and respond to whatever I can while I drink another cup of coffee and consider going back to bed.

Too much to do. Off I go…

Once they’ve stumbled into school, I’m off again, with travel mug of coffee in hand. I wave longingly at Starbucks on my way to the Y. Exercise is a must, and I might as well get it in early. Bronwyn Green meets me for water aerobics. Trust me, without her, I wouldn’t be there. Sometimes, if I have time beforehand, I sweat it out on the treadmill and read submissions or books on my eReader. Don’t tell, but I’ve also gotten pretty good at emailing while I’m walking the treadmill too. (Don’t tell the Y. I’m guessing they’d have a fit. In my defense, they shouldn’t have wi-fi in the workout center if they don’t want us to use it.)

So once I’m done sweating and cleaning up at the Y, it’s home and to work. First, a cup of coffee then work actually. In the time, I’ve been gone I’ve usually received a ton of email (the email on the treadmill was personal mail. This is work mail). I set about answering everything since I have a respond within 24-hours policy. Then I do the following throughout the day: Work on first edits for the manuscripts. Go through second edits. Send work to final line editors. Finalize manuscripts to submit for final formatting. Send authors letters. Process forms for approved manuscripts. Schedule books. Make contract requests. Fill out spreadsheets. Engage in author relations/counseling. And oversee several other editors.

Sounds simple, huh? It’s actually back to back busy.

Around 3:30, I knock off as the kids come home from school. The next three hours are filled with homework, dinner and cleaning. About 6:30, I head back to the computer where I pick up where I left off that afternoon. Though it has caffeine, I substitute Earl Grey for the coffee. In addition to everything else, I blog in the evening. I work until about 11:00 then set the coffee maker, feed the dog, run through the house doing a quick pickup and finally, climb into bed.

It’s a long day, but I love what I do. My weekends are slightly different, but I work seven days a week. This isn’t a 9-5, Monday through Friday job.

Now, the advice part…

Besides editing, I also write. No matter how busy you are with your day job, write every day. Keep ‘in-touch’ with your manuscript and more, importantly, with your voice. Vigilant work will keep your work flowing and consistent. Strive for at least a half hour or a few paragraphs a day.


Dakota Rebel said...

Great post! And those pictures are awesome. You know how much I like that sort of thing. ;)


Bronwyn Green said...

Brynn is one of the best, hardest working editors and writers I know. She also drinks more caffeine than anyone I know. :)

I'm so glad you're wearing both hats, Brynn. :)

Simone Anderson said...

Love the post! Excellent advice. Keeping "in touch" with your manuscript also helps prevent consistency issues, major plot problems, or straying from the plot all together.

The pictures are too funny!

Bronwyn Green said...

Ooops - meant to say, the knife picture is my favorite. Well done!

Joselyn Vaughn said...

Love the pictures. They are a hoot!

Andrea Dickinson said...

My favorite is the waterproof house of 2000. I would love to clean this place with a hose and be done with it!

WS Gager said...

Will the hose work on cleaning the car I'm living in? Great post but when do you write? Did I miss it?

Tanya Eby said...

I echo what everyone else says, but I'm too lazy to re-say it. :) Great job! Love the pics too.

Stephanie Michels, author said...

I don't know where you come up with these pics, but they are great!

I want the waterproof house. Does it have a sewer in the middle of the livingroom floor?