When people learn that I am an acquiring editor, I get a few stock responses.
"Oh, you get to read all day!" That is from the readers.
"What kind of books do you acquire?" From the writers.
"Huh? What's that?" Non-readers.
But then we dig into what I really do all day long. I am going to start with yesterday. I had two launch meetings yesterday. At the launch meeting, we determine the cover design, title, series name, taglines, discuss blurbs/reviews, back cover copy, etc. This is the most important meeting we have for any one book. Before the meeting, I talk with the author about what he or she envisions. Then I create a set of launch notes for everyone who attends the meeting describing what I feel the books should look like.
After work, I went to the gym and then to a Midwestern Writers Binder meet up. It ended up only being four of us, and quite a fun time, but still a work function in many ways. This morning, we had our weekly acquisitions meeting. Today I was presenting a thriller that I hope to acquire. To prepare for this meeting, I research the market, collect data about the author and comparable titles. It can take half a day to a full day for me to prepare. It all depends on the other things that interrupt me – phone calls, the art dept (asking me to go look at a cover design or at potential illustrators), marketing or sales stopping by (to ask specific questions about ads, copy, the author), etc.
My to-do list for today:
- Transmit a revised manuscript to the production department
- Brainstorm blurb requests with three different authors
- Gather synopses from the Spring Summer 2015 authors
- Tweak those synopses and send onto marketing
- Remind Spring Summer 2015 authors to send in author photos and permission forms
- Create an offer memo for the ms I presented today (to be pubbed in 2016)
- Find six manuscripts for the Winter 2016 catalog
- Read my tarot cards
- Find time to meditate
- Sign off on cover routings as they get dropped on my desk. Same for catalog copy and cover designs
- Return a call to an outside publicist
- Type up revision requests and send to the authors
- Answer author and agent emails (this alone could take all day)
- Read seven manuscripts (I have hundreds of submissions to read, but these seven are time sensitive –manuscripts that I have to formally accept within 30 days.)
Did you notice that reading is the last thing on my list? It shouldn’t be that way, but most days it does fall to the end, and I often have to read at night or on weekends to hit those deadlines. There are other crummy parts of my job. I have to inform authors/agents when we are discontinuing a series. I have to reject manuscripts. And I don’t have time to get thru my backlog of submissions. I feel like I am failing writers by not looking at their manuscripts in a timely manner. But at the end of the day, something has to give because I simply can’t do it all. It stresses me out continually. I wake up in the middle of the night because I have suddenly realized a plot hole or something I have forgotten to do.
But at the end of the day – I still have THE BEST JOB EVER! Reading is my job. I make dreams come true when I offer a contract to a debut author. I get to go to conferences and hang out with my friends in the crime fiction community. I am part of the creative process of taking a manuscript, giving it wings, and watching it fly. That, my friends, is an incredible feeling.
And in parting, I have a question for you all. As you can probably guess, my work doesn’t allow me much time to read for pleasure. If you were to pick the top five books pubbed in 2014 – what would they be? I will always have my favorites – but I am looking for new authors to read. Maybe a debut author? Or someone who writes excellent stuff but hasn’t broken out yet? I look forward to your suggestions.
Have a great day y’all!