What Do You Do All Day? A Look at the Life of an Editor

Contrary to popular belief, I don’t sit around with a red pen, a cup of coffee, and a manuscript from 8-5. First of all, I prefer blue pens. Second of all, I’m more of a tea girl. And third, editing a manuscript is only part of what an editor does. Here’s a look at some of the tasks I do on a daily basis.

  • Edit manuscripts. Okay, I know I just said that isn’t what I do all day, but it is a big part of my job. As an acquisitions editor, I work on the macro, or big-picture, edits. That includes developing characters, plot, and pacing in addition to looking at grammar and sentence structure.
  • Read submissions. One of the most fun parts of the job is searching through the hundreds of submissions to find a diamond in the rough to publish. Yes, this involves saying no to a lot of people (one of my least favorite tasks), but it also means I get to read a lot of wonderful, brand-new material.
  • Answer emails. Yes, like all humans, a good portion of my day is taken up by email. I try to answer solely by Ryan Gosling “Hey girl” memes whenever possible.
  • Craft presentations. I have to present to our editorial, creative, marketing, or sales boards on a weekly basis. Each day I spend time honing pitches and creating PowerPoints to showcase the titles I am excited about.
  • Research. I’m pretty sure my top two most-visited websites are Amazon Books and Goodreads. These are two of the most searchable sites to find books in various genres and to get a quick idea of how readers are responding to stories. I spend a lot of time seeing what is trending in the market, from content to covers to typefaces.
  • Make deals. Every so often I get to go to an author with a book deal. It’s always a great day when I can offer a writer a home at the publishing company. Making deals also includes doing some legwork on contracts, so let’s just say thank goodness contract managers exist! There is a very good reason I decided not to translate my English degree into a law degree.
  • Attend conferences. There are dozens of book conferences across the country each year, whether they are for writers, librarians, booksellers, or publishing professionals. Those are perfect places to meet and network with other book lovers and share excitement about upcoming titles.
  • Help develop covers. While I’m not an artist of any kind, I love helping to create a cover for a book. Read about the process here.
  • Work with authors. Yay! Authors are the reason I started in publishing. It’s like working with rockstars, minus most of the drama and plus a lot of fabulous reading.
  • Drink tea. It’s worth mentioning, especially because I have at least three mugs at my desk at any given time. I have a theory that the literary cortex of your brain is stimulated by tea. Without it, we would never have made it past the dictionary.

So technically, I don’t get to read for a living. But boy am I close.

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