36. Publishing 201: A Day In The Life
This week JJ and Kelly give you a behind-the-scenes peek at a Day in the Life of a publishing person. SPOILER: The tagline "I get paid to read books" is somewhat misleading. Also, there is a long, protracted discussion of Game of Thrones near the end because JJ has feels, so if you're not into spoilers, go ahead and give that section a skip.
A brief summary of agenting:
Agents represent authors and their interests to publishers.
They cultivate a list of clients from slush piles they want to work with. Once an offer of representation is offered, they will work with the client editorially to get the manuscript ready for submission to publishing houses.
Agents will brainstorm a submission list, i.e. a list of editors to which the agent will submit, handpicked by the agent based on the editor's tastes and likelihood of connecting with the work.
If an offer is made, the agent will negotiate the contract so the terms are as favorable to the author as they can make it.
Once a deal is done, the agent continues to represent the author's business interests, as well as handle monies and tax paperwork.
The agent ideally should make it as easy as possible for the writer to just write and not think about business.
Day to day duties of an agent:
Lots and lots and lots of email: checking publicity plans, dealing with crises, maybe fielding subrights requests, etc. An agent has several clients, and handling business on their behalf takes up most of their time.
Going to a lot of lunches. Lunching is important! The agent is better able to connect with an editor in this setting to see what the editor is looking and cultivate a better sense of their taste.
Slush reading happens whenever the agent has a brief moment to take a breather: at lunch, on their commute, after work while they're eating dinner, etc. Office hours are spent negotiating contracts, taking phone calls, answering emails, all the day-to-day administrative work of managing a client list.
Requested manuscript reading and client reading/editing also takes place outside office hours.
A brief summary of editorial:
Acquiring books to shepherd through the publishing process: from acquisitions to editing to actual publishing.
The editor is the middle-man/project manager/liaison between every aspect/department of publishing: the author/agent, marketing, publicity, art, sales, production, legal, and accounting.
Day to day duties of an editor:
If you're younger in the industry, you are will almost certainly be assisting a more senior editor. Those duties will vary from editor to editor: some need only administrative assistance, others take a more active mentor-type role with their assistants and give their assistants projects to edit.
Like with slush reading, editors read and edit on their free time.
What do they do during office hours? MEETINGS. Meetings all the live-long day. Acquisitions, marketing/publicity, launch, sales conference, cover conference, etc. This is to say nothing of the lunches you are also expected to take with agents to try and grow your list.
In addition to actually editing, a lot of prep goes into just acquiring or even just launching your book to your sales and marketing force. Preparation and strategic planning.
What We're Reading
The Storyspinner by Becky Wallace
My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and our very own Jodi Meadows
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
What We're Working On
Kelly and her friend Chris are forcing each other to write by threatening to be mean to each other (they've known each other forever, so they've got great ammo).
JJ is working through Wintersong's first pass pages by reading them aloud and she is regretting writing such a long book.
JJ is also working on book 2 and no, she's not panicking, nosireebob. It's fine. It's all fine.
Off Menu Recommendations
That's all for this week! Next we will tackling the topic of REJECTIONS: why you get them, what to do about them, how you know when it's time to move on, etc. As always, if you have any questions, comments, or feedback, sound off in the comments!