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April 03, 2012

At the First Second Offices: A Day in the Editorial Life

Following Gina's excellent example, I thought it might be entertaining and instructive to document how this editor spends a typical day. (Hint: buried in paper.)


What follows is a mostly honest account of Monday, April 2, 2012.


8:00 - 8:10 - arrive at office. Heat up leftover oatmeal and write an email to building manager about broken microwave (oops!)

8:10 - 8:20 - take a preliminary look at email to make sure nothing has exploded. Respond to the most urgent-looking messages. Have doubtless missed several dire emergencies; will discover this later. A delightful anticipation of future calamity sets in.

8:20 - 9:00 - finish reading thumbnails of AWAGO BEACH BABIES, Jillian and Mariko Tamaki's new book, which :01 Editorial Director Mark Siegel is editing. I started reading it on the way down to work this morning.

9:00 - 9:05 - talk to Mark about the book (it's amazing!)

9:05 - 9:15 - read through some industry blogs. As always, enjoying the hell out of the Fantagraphics tumblr. We should do something like that. In all of our copious spare time.

9:15 - 10:15 - sift through final changes to Lucy Knisley's utterly splendid RELISH, which is about to go to the printer. This book is my top priority today. Check and double-check several emails, all the old and current passes of the interior, and a running checklist that I'm keeping on this book. Detail-herding. This sort of thing is a big part of my job.


10:15 - 10:20 - check in with :01 designer extraordinaire Colleen AF Venable about RELISH.

10:20 - 10:40 - meet with our spring semester intern to discuss some recent submissions. One of them looks promising - will have to actually read this one.

10:40 - 10:41 - call home to say good morning to my husband, who was asleep when I left home this morning. He is very understanding about the gross soup pot I left soaking in the sink. Sorry!

10:41 - 10:42 - Facebook!

10:42 - 10:50 - blogs, again. Loving Drawn as always.

10:50 - 11:20 - compile the quarterly report that I send out to my colleagues at First Second and our publisher, Simon Boughton, about current sales for our recently-published books. Winter 2012 has been a strong season so far!


11:20 - 11:25 - email! Write a few notes about JERUSALEM, our new Nick Bertozzi / Boaz Yakin project. It's crazy-good, this book. It's going to blow your mind in Fall 2012.

11:25 - 11:30 - get an author's on-delivery check ready to mail, and discover we have no UPS envelopes on this floor.

11:30 - 11:35 - quick look at some of the recipes from RELISH, which our managing editor, Jill, has just reviewed.


11:35 - 11:45 - run down to the mailroom for more UPS envelopes, mail that check. I love it when I get to pay people. It's much nicer to send good news than bad.

11:45 - 11:50 - eat an orange. Nom! Check Facebook while I nom. Everybody seems to be behaving themselves.

11:50 - 12:00 - emaaaaaail. Some back and forth with Chris Duffy, the editor of NURSERY RHYME COMICS, who is working up a follow-up volume for us. Hint: this one has FAIRY TALES.

12:00 - 1:00 - monthly First Second marketing meeting. Discuss: Ebook publishing, the recent Macmillan Sales Conference, our new website design, and distribution in Canada and the UK.

QUESTION: How am I going to heat up my lentil soup (whose dirty pot repines in my sink even now) if our floor's microwave is broken?

1:00 - 1:30 - email!


Coming to terms at this point in my day that there's no way I'm making it to yoga on my lunch break. Maybe tomorrow…

1:30 - 1:50 - microwave my lentil soup downstairs in the Accounts Payable kitchen. There's a line for their super-slow microwave. It's like a different world down here in AP. Everything has a neat label on it. Everything is tidy. Everything is quiet. Makes our relatively subdued environment on the 7th floor look positively chaotic in comparison. Lentil soup never makes it above "warmish" but I give up and come back upstairs to my office to eat it anyway.

1:50 - 2:00 - eat soup at desk while catching up on email, checking Facebook, and reading an article my husband chatted me a link to about how the Supreme Court is allowing law enforcement to strip search anyone arrested for any crime, no matter what.


2:00 - 2:01 - seethe with discontent at the discovery (via, yes, industry blogs) that a beautiful book is being published by someone other than First Second. Shake impotent fist at sky, and resolve to be a good sport about it, except in the silences of my own soul.


2:01 - 2:40 - :01 weekly update meeting with Mark, Gina, and Colleen. Discuss eighty billion things including Gene Luen Yang's new book, Paul Pope's new book, and possible candidates for "To Be Continued" treatment (aka web-serialization ahead of publication)

2:40 - 2:55 - Check in with Colleen about RELISH. This book makes me hungry.

2:55 - 3:00 - quick email to Lucy about RELISH. Still hungry!

3:00 - 3:25 - weekly senior editorial meeting for all of the Macmillan Children's Publishing Group (ie, FSG, RBP, :01, HH, FF, SF). So many acronyms, you guys!

3:25 - 3:45 - personal email and Facebook while I eat an apple.

3:45 - 3:50 - jot off a quick email about TEMPLAR, our follow-up to 2010's SOLOMON'S THIEVES, and then stare at inbox and to-do list and pile of stuff on desk in utter confusion. What to do next?

[I kid. That pile is something else entirely. But it is scary, isn't it?]

3:50 - 4:15 - avoid answering this question by dint of reading industry blogs instead. Still hungry, even after apple. Eat some raisins.

4:15 - 4:40 - read the submission I discussed earlier with the intern. Totally charmed by it! Not convinced we can find a spot for it on our list, but seriously considering making an offer. Hand it to Mark for a second opinion.

4:40 - 5:10 - process some of the random paperwork that's accumulated on my desk in the last few days, including a straggling invoice for MOON MOTH, and another one for ZITA THE SPACEGIRL.


5:10 - 5:17 - begin expense report for the month of March. I use an iPhone app to file my expense reports and always worry that it looks like I'm texting my peeps instead of working. I'm working! I SWEAR!

5:17 - 5:20 - Gina calls to discuss the First Second website.

5:20 - 6:30 - back to expense report. Not the single most urgent thing on my desk but I keep incurring late penalties so I'm trying to be better about it. BORING.

6:30 - 6:45 - abandon expense report (again) to begin compiling all the changes to Jane Yolen and Mike Cavallaro's CURSES! FOILED AGAIN that I've discussed with the author and artist.


6:45 - leave office to grab ramen at some new joint up in Morningside Heights. Ciao!


Addendum as I post this on Tuesday: the ramen was delicious. And I still haven't filed that expense report.


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My favorite bit was you shaking your impotent fist at the sky/brick wall across the street, with accompanying photo.

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