An Editor's Day

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Why isn't the editor getting back to me? If your manuscript was unsolicited, it ends up in the slush pile. The slush pile gets read last. But even if your manuscript was requested, it will take time for the editor to respond. Here's why:


Editor 1: 5 Ms that occupy one editor's day:
  • Meetings - they are "not what's get in the way of my work, they ARE my work"
  • Marketing - "performances" - includes flap copy, which is so important
  • Mail
  • Mechanics - looking at the different stages of the book in the manufacturing process
  • Manuscripts

His "M" for manuscripts includes the ones he's editing now. That doesn't leave much time to look at new projects.


Editor 2: A glimpse into what one senior editor does:
  • Budget for next year - chart of all books - project costs, copies selling, etc.
  • Budget for conference, conventions, staff, salaries
  • Manage staff - pour oil over troubled water - part the Red Sea
  • Balance list
  • Manage up - be aware of what managers want
  • Proposals for books that she's bidding on
  • Look at profit and loss statements for individual books and the department
  • Schmooze with authors, agents
  • Make print and buying decisions
  • Read books the house may acquire
  • Communicate with colleagues about books
  • Edit
  • Marketing, presale, sale meetings
  • E-mail, phone calls

This senior editor probably does not read many manuscripts that have not been vetted by other editors in the house, or by an agent.


Editor 3: An yet another view:
  • Meetings
  • Interruptions
  • Trying to read manuscript
  • Lunch at desk
  • E-mails
  • Phone calls
  • Brainstorming
  • Take the above and remix

I've heard many editors say they do the reading of submissions away from the office. That might include on the train ride home, evenings, and over the weekend. So, they often read manuscripts in their "free" time.

Further Editor Info from a Q&A

How do you balance lists?
- We pick books we will love in 3-6 years

How do editors determine marketing budget for an individual book?
- Make a wish list for each book, balance with colleagues
- Every season there's a book that is a sleeper - it rises to the top unsuspected

How do bidding auctions work?
- The editor gets a call - this is going to be big and why (credentials)
- Reads it (may not even be that great a book but upper management wants them to look at it)
- Come up with marketing plan, proposal
- Date is set for auction
- Call on date and give bid
- Oh, but we already have that bid, relook and rebid perhaps
- Phone tag
- Next day - are you in or not?

What do editors discuss at an editorial meeting?
- Great voice
- Ability for writer to keep interest - some foreshadowing
- Is this story something new - a fresh perspective - honest look
- Fully realized characters - subtle quirks and nuances so readers can develop a relationship with character
- What's the best way to get this book out there - whether hardback or paperback
- Platform - quotes from other writers, etc. - not the writer's worry

The above info collected from a variety of editors.

What can we control? Our writing. And hope someday to be a part of an editor's day.