I am very excited to have Assistant Editor Lisa Mangum, from Deseret Book, visiting the blog today. I always find it interesting to hear about what editors, publicists, etc. do for writers. Sit back and enjoy her article about life as an editor.
I’m an editor. And contrary to popular belief, I don’t read books all day. Well, okay, yes, I do read—often for hours at a time—but it’s email and meeting notes and corrections and more email and maybe if I’m lucky, I can squeeze in a chapter or two of an actual book I’m working on. And even then it’s not like reading at home where you can curl up on the couch in your jammies with a good book and a cat sleeping on your lap.
Editing requires me to read in a different way. I have to look at every letter, every word, every space and syllable. I ask myself questions all the time: Is that comma in the right place? Are those quotation marks in pairs? What’s the source for that quote? And while I’m in the middle of thinking about those things, I still have to watch for plot holes, character arcs, places where the story drags and where it could be better. It can be exhilarating—and exhausting.
In my experience, there is no typical day in the life on an editor. It’s one of the things that I love about my profession: I may do the same tasks every day, but since I’m working on different books, every day is different.
Here are a few of the things I try to do every day. First stop in my office in the morning is to check my email. Just because you go home at night doesn’t mean that the work stops too. If nothing urgent is in my email, then I take a look down my daily “to-do” list. Organizing my time by the day, the week, and the month is about the only way I can keep all my projects on track. When you’re working on 8 to 10 books at any given time, being organized and able to prioritize is essential.
I’ll finish up any lingering projects that I didn’t get to from the night before. Because I know that I’m better in the morning, that’s when I try to schedule out my heaviest editing hours. After lunch, I turn my attention to any smaller projects that have come up during the day: checking corrections, writing jacket copy, attending meetings, revising schedules, returning phone calls, etc.
At the end of the day, I’ll tidy up my desk, review my “to-do” list for tomorrow, turn off my lights and head home.
Lather. Rinse. Repeat. 🙂
Maybe that doesn’t sound very glamorous, but the truth is that a day in the life of an editor is about doing the necessary work to bring a manuscript to life, to polish it and help the author make it shine. I love my job because I get to be a part of the magical process of making a book. Yes, I get to read lots and lots. And yes, I get to work with authors and challenge them to be more creative with their ideas, more eloquent with their language, more daring with their stories. And yes, even after fifteen years in the business, I still feel an undeniable thrill in finding that unpolished diamond in the rough and seeing it turn into a best-selling book.
What do I do every day? I work magic.
NOTE: Recently one of Lisa’s authors, Josi S. Kilpack, blogged about their relationship as an editor and writer. A link to the post is here: http://josikilpack.blogspot.
Author Bio: Lisa Mangum has loved and worked with books ever since elementary school, when she volunteered at the school library during recess. Her first paying job was shelving books at the Sandy Library. She worked for five years at Waldenbooks while she attended the University of Utah, graduating with honors with a degree in English. An avid reader of all genres, she has worked in the publishing department for Deseret Book since 1997.
Besides books, Lisa loves movies, spending time with her family, trips to Disneyland, and vanilla ice cream topped with fresh raspberries. She lives in Taylorsville, Utah, with her husband, Tracy.
She is the author of the award-winning Hourglass Door trilogy and After Hello.
The Hourglass Door: 2009 YA Book of the Year by ForeWord Reviews
The Golden Spiral: 2010 YA Book of the Year by ForeWord Reviews; Benjamin Franklin Silver Medal Teen Fiction
The Forgotten Locket: Benjamin Franklin Gold Medal Teen Fiction
After Hello: Whitney Award for Young Adult Fiction, 2012