A Day in the Life of a Children’s Book Editor

When I tell people that I am a children’s book editor, the usual response is something like “Oh, it must be so nice to sit and read all day!”

If only that were true.

Let’s take a look at a day in my life from a few weeks ago…

October 10th

7:30 Wake up, shower, and check my work email before heading out for the day.

8:15 Hop on the subway for my 45 minute commute to work. This particular morning, I read The One and Only Ivan. I try to get my personal reading done on the subway. I don’t get to read much for fun at home…

9:15 Finalize & print audio copy. Every season each editor records a blurb about their books for the sales team to use when preparing/driving to their sales calls.

9:45 Record audio for my Summer 2013 list.

10:15-11:45 Worked on interior finals for Gustav #2 Gustav Gloom and the Nightmare Vault. This is when I go over the proofed pages in layouts and do my final read of the book.

10:30 Call with publicist about author events.

11:00 Emailed with an agent about deal negotiation.

11:05 Call from an agent with a pitch. I requested the manuscript.

11:45 Worked on cover copy for one of my books.

12:15-1:00 Lunch. I typically eat lunch at my desk, but this day I had the chance to get lunch with my husband. While we were out, I received an email from the agent I was negotiating with earlier in the day saying the deal was finalized. There is a chance I might have yelled “BOOM!” in the park with my husband after reading the email.

1:30 Meeting with our sales & marketing about a series plan for one the series I edit.

2:00 Launch prep meeting for Fall 2013. Launch meetings are very important because that is when the majority of the sales/marketing/publicity teams hear about my books for the first time. This meeting was with the editorial team to discuss order and any special additions to the launch presentation.

3:00 I started work on the contract for the deal I closed at lunch. I didn’t get complete it until the end of the day because over the next two hours several things happened.

3:15 One of my authors called to discuss deadlines and upcoming events.

3:30 I sat down with one of our designers to discuss art comments for an upcoming picture I edit.

3:45 Another designer called me in to discuss the cover concept for the seventh book in Ann Hood’s The Treasure Chest series.

3:55 Confirmed agent lunch for next day.

4:00 Call with the publicist for the author I spoke with earlier in the afternoon to discuss events.

4:15 Sent a “Welcome to Grosset!” email to the authors of the deal I closed at lunch. This is one of my absolute favorite parts of my job.

4:30 Looked over revised sketches for Gustav Gloom #3. Spooky!

5:00 Let my boss know that we closed the deal for the new series and got back to work on drafting the contract.

5:45 Head home. Finished The One and Only Ivan on the train. There were tears.

Anyone notice the two things that I didn’t have a chance to do at all this day at the office? Editing and reading submissions!

Full disclosure: Most of my authors were revising this particular day, but this day would have been the same even if there had been a manuscript waiting for me to edit.

Trust me, I eye my submissions pile longingly each day, but I rarely get to read them at the office. That’s what my trusty ereader and my comfy couch is for.

An editor’s day is always busy. We attend many meetings and have lots of paperwork to complete. The days when we can just sit with a manuscript and edit are few and far between, but when those days occur it makes all the other work worth it.


25 Responses to A Day in the Life of a Children’s Book Editor

  1. Julie Eshbaugh Oct 24 2012 at 6:20 am #

    Great post Jordan! Your job sounds fantastic, even without any actual reading or editing! 🙂

    • Jordan Hamessley Oct 24 2012 at 9:45 am #

      Thanks, Julie! It is a lot of fun even when I’m not reading. I LOVE working with illustrators and my design team.

  2. Megan Duff Oct 24 2012 at 9:13 am #

    So cool! Thanks for the in sight. Even with all the craziness your job sounds fantastic 🙂

    • Jordan Hamessley Oct 24 2012 at 9:46 am #

      Thanks! I’m happy to give a glimpse behind the scenes.

  3. Leigh Smith Oct 24 2012 at 9:34 am #

    Whoa. Busy day that doesn’t seem to end even when your home. Thanks for this post!

    • Jordan Hamessley Oct 24 2012 at 9:50 am #

      I do get some free time at home. Sometimes my brain needs a break. I have several guilty pleasure TV shows.

  4. JoSVolpe Oct 24 2012 at 9:34 am #

    Yeah. Agents don’t get to read much either. We get into the biz because we LOVE books, and then we have no time for books! It’s a conundrum.

    • thejordache Oct 24 2012 at 9:55 am #

      Seriously. One of the best (and worst) parts of the job is hearing about all the great books my friends are working on and having trouble finding the time to read them all. My TBR pile is huge!

  5. Kateri Ransom Oct 24 2012 at 9:39 am #

    That is ridiculous, but I have to admit, also ridiculously fun sounding too. Even if it can be stressful, I think I’d love to be stressed out over such an awesome job. But I got to wondering, how do people who edit and write books do it? I thought I barely had time to write…

    • thejordache Oct 24 2012 at 9:57 am #

      I have also wondered how the editors and agents who are also writers manage to get all of their writing and editing done. I have so much respect for them.

  6. Jill Oct 24 2012 at 9:49 am #

    Your work tasks are very diverse. Sounds like a good day when you sign a new author:)

    • thejordache Oct 24 2012 at 9:59 am #

      Closing a deal and sending the “Welcome!” email always makes my day. I also love the first phone call or meeting after the deal is closed. So much happiness.

  7. Sooz Oct 24 2012 at 10:27 am #

    Wow, what a cool post. I honestly had NO IDEA that editors were doing all this… Ah, new found respect for my own shiny editor. Thanks for writing this up, Jordan. I am seriously impressed you guys manage to get any editing done!

    • thejordache Oct 24 2012 at 11:25 am #

      Thanks, Sooz!

  8. Christa Oct 24 2012 at 10:32 am #

    I had no idea about the audio copy! That’s so interesting and such a great idea. It sounds like your day is crazy busy but also kind of enjoyable overall. I work at an indie publishing house so there was a lot I could relate to but there’s so much that you do that I would love to do one day (if that makes sense?)

  9. Moses Solomon Oct 24 2012 at 12:03 pm #

    This is a great, informative post about what it’s really like on the job. If authors were architects, then editors must be the general contractors. Thanks for the peek into your world.

  10. Mac_v Oct 24 2012 at 1:36 pm #

    Thanks for this post! That is really something to be able to really understand a day in the life. I’m rooting for a reading/editing day for you soon!


  11. Kirsty in London Oct 24 2012 at 2:43 pm #

    Phew, I’m exhausted just reading that! Very interesting post — thanks for sharing 🙂

  12. Dori Butler Oct 24 2012 at 4:11 pm #

    I’m glad you were reading The One and Only Ivan. That’s been one of my favorite books this year.

  13. Erica Oct 24 2012 at 5:32 pm #

    I love reading about different jobs in the publishing world and an editor’s sounds busy but fun and fulfilling! How do you become an editor? And how did you get your start?

  14. Loie Oct 24 2012 at 9:30 pm #

    Awesome post!!! Really interesting to get a glimpse into an editor’s life 🙂 Best

  15. Brian Oct 26 2012 at 1:19 pm #

    So, do you feel like you read submissions on weekends, when you may have more time? Because I realize it may be difficult to balance actually having free time to read for yourself/do other activities and using your free time to read agented submissions. So typically, when do you sit down to read, or is it just whenever you have the time and feel like it, weekend or not?

    Also, how do you feel the editor’s busy schedule affects their submission responses? Because I find that response times get longer and longer, sometimes with authors never hearing back. I admit that sometimes it can be very heartbreaking on the author’s part.

    At the same time, there are many instances where a submission will get read very quickly. What makes you read a submission more quickly than another? Is it just whatever catches your fancy, or is it whatever promises to be a big hit? Does the agent make you read faster, or the market potential of the book (trends, etc).

    Thanks, sorry for all the questions and thank you for taking the time to write this blog post 🙂

  16. Alexa (Loves Books) Oct 27 2012 at 12:10 am #

    I certainly wouldn’t mind having your job! I think it’s still pretty fun, and I actually really like that you do all these different things in one day.

  17. Remika Apr 11 2015 at 11:26 pm #

    Thank you so much for writing this article! I am currently in a career which isn’t bringing me much passion and interest anymore and am researching different careers. It’s great to get the perspective of someone doing their work so broken down like this! Thank you so much for sharing!

  18. Meghan Jun 28 2017 at 12:23 am #

    This sounds great! What did you major in to become an editor? I’m very interested in pursuing a career as a children’s book editor.

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