8:25 am. Drive to the office after dropping off preschooler and third grader at respective schools. Discover abandoned baggie of stale cereal on passenger seat under pile of manuscripts. Resist urge to eat. Feel bad that manuscripts are riding shotgun instead of getting read.
8:46 am. Arrive at office. Turn on computer. Read email from accountant, who needs to reschedule appointment (again) but meanwhile wants to know if I have any contacts in children’s publishing who might want to see a book she’s written â€¦ Delete. Read email from agent wanting to know if I’d like to look at a proposal for a book about Zen golfing. Close. Read an email from a friend of a friend who met me at a party who has a book that’s just like Eat, Pray, Love only different, would I like to publish it …
9:11 am. Read my google alerts: six about the company, seven about authors or books that are pubbing, one about me. Click on the one about me. Discover there’s another Laura Mazer who took first place in her high school district’s 100-yard dash. Delete all.
9:25 am. Get coffee. Eat Luna bar. Scan RSS feeds. Read Romanesco. Twitter a link to an article that pronounces indie publishers to be the future of literature. Feel smug.
10:00 am. Editorial meeting. Title brainstormingâ€”once again, can’t help but wonder if we’d have better ideas if there were alcohol involved. Listen to debate over whether or not a novel needs to say “A novel” on the cover. Keep a tally in the margins of my agenda of how many times the editorial director mentions books I haven’t read but should. Realize how poorly read I am. Feel crappy about it. Try to redeem myself by offering to ask a past author for a blurb for a new author. Present new cover for lead fiction title. Consensus is it’s perfect but could use some changes.
11:55 am. Meeting over. Three tally marks. Not bad!
12:04 pm. Back in office. Open mail: four brochures from stock agencies, two from photographers, one from an indexer, three invoices from freelancers, and five submissions, including a hand-drawn children’s book with an SASE and a typewritten letter that begins “Dear Mr. Mazer.”
12:18 pm. Read pitch letter from agent for a sports anthology with recipes.
12:25 pm. Go to kitchen to microwave frozen Lean Cuisine for lunch and reheat coffee. Add a little sugar so I can think of it as dessert.
1:18 pm. More email: Manuscript arrives from supercool new author. Read revised intro. Love it. Write effusive email saying so. Delete some adjectives so I don’t sound fawning. Make notes for copyeditor (“Please retain all instances of the word vomitudinal.”) Glance at last page to see if I am included in the acknowledgments. (I am!) (Not that it matters or anything.)
1:35 pm. Phone rings. It’s the cover designer working on the lead fiction title. Tell her we love her design and we want very little changed, in fact she should pretty much keep it exactly the same, maybe just play with the type and the color scheme, and possibly experiment with the cover image, and could she change the title treatment hierarchy? But really, that’s all, it’s gorgeous just as it is …
1:50 pm. Launch Excel so I can start charting out editorial schedules for the fall titles. Set deadlines for each stage of each book, taking into account authors’ schedules, copyeditors’ schedules, proofreaders’ schedules, cover designers’ schedules, interior designers’ schedules, sales reps’ schedules, printer schedules, shipping schedules, national holidays, religious holidays, three-day weekends, and Mercury’s chances of going retrograde. Get halfway through before computer crashes. Resist urge to cry.
2:55 pm. Take Alleve. Eat another Luna bar. Tell myself it’s OK because they’re healthy.
3:08 pm. Read email from agent shopping a self-help memoir with recipes.
3:45 pm. Get intern to recreate my excel doc. Spend more time explaining how to recreate it than it would take to actually do it. Give her a submission from slush pile to review for the rest of the afternoon as reward for babysitting me.
4:10 pm. Work on catalog copy for new acquisition. Won’t have a manuscript until after catalog goes to press, so will have to crib from proposal but sexy-up the language. Wonder if “breathtaking narrative” is too generic. Wonder if it will have a breathtaking narrative.
4:18 pm. Take call from copyeditor wondering if she should apply standard or secondary rules pertaining to endnotes in reference to works in the public domain, and by the way do I prefer to hyphenate standard vernacular compound phraseology? Make up an answer to the first, tell her to use her judgment for the second, and offer her another project since she clearly knows CMS better than I do.
4:27 pm. Read query letter from author shopping a book of essays about her “musings, meanderings, and observations on lifeâ€”with recipes.” She is sure it’s perfect for Oprah.
4:48 pm. Remember page proofs needed to go to author overnight, also realize FedEx pickup was an hour ago. Crap! Email author, asking if he could print the pages from an emailed PDF. Make vague reference to “working green” so he’ll think it’s for the environment.
5:22 pm. Run out the door for school pickups, late as usual. Drive a block, remember manuscript for tomorrow’s author call is still on desk. Curse at steering wheel. Risk illegal U-turn, run inside office, grab MS, get back in car. Add MS to pile on passenger seat. See cereal baggie. Eat cereal on way to preschool, wondering if there are any recipes in the passenger seat that might be good for dinner.
* Several months ago, Publishers Weekly printed a very funny piece called “A Day in the Life of a Book Publicist.” Thanks go out to the author of that piece for inspiring this post.