I’ve been meaning to do a “Day in the Life” post for some time. My days (and weeks!) seem to vary so much more now than they did when I was an assistant, that it was interesting to keep track of a day and what I was really accomplishing hour by hour. While a part of me misses the old routine, it’s exciting to have new challenges come my way each day–it definitely keeps me on my toes!
The day I tracked, if you’re wondering, was this past Monday, the 24th and I work in a very fabulous department known to the world as “School & Library Marketing.”
Without further ado…
7:00 – First alarm goes off. No thanks. I didn’t fall asleep the night before until 4 AM due to a potent combination of stress, revisions, and watching a TV character get murdered. Snooze.
7:30—Second alarm goes off. Regret staying up so late working on revisions the night before. Hate the universe. Hate the winter. Hate iPhone. Hit the Snooze button one last time.
7:45—Actually up and vertical.
8:30—Actually out of my apartment and heading toward the subway. After three years, I finally have this trip perfectly timed to get me to Midtown by 9 AM exactly.
8:40—BUT, as fate would have it, because it seems to be a theme with sudden cold snaps and the Polar Vortex that just wouldn’t quit, the 4/5/6 trains aren’t running. This, unfortunately, does not become apparent until I’m already two stories down waiting for the next express train. Five minutes… ten minutes… finally one rolls into the station. By then, the whole platform is so packed with people that I can’t even move my arms to take a picture lest I accidentally knock someone onto the tracks with my boney elbows. The train rolls in agonizingly slowly, and the doors open… and the conductor announces that due to a earlier incident at 42nd Street (“Sick Passenger” which apparently is code for near-death/dead/requiring immediate emergency medical treatment), this is the last stop on the train. And, thus, the packed train empties out onto the already packed platform and so begins my twenty minute stint wedged against a dirty subway wall as I slowly inch my way toward one of the staircases upstairs toward the local train platform, which is also packed. Let me just say, in summary, that delayed trains and packed subway cars bring out some of the worst behavior in humanity you can imagine. Two shouting matches break out, people on the platform arguing with people on the cars to move in, and then people on the cars yelling at people on the platform so they can get off as instructed. No one wins! So, back-up route, it is.
One of the most important things you can do when you move to a new neighborhood in NYC is immediately map out a secondary route that’ll get you to work when your usual subway line is down. I used mine for about two weeks following Super Storm Sandy, and what felt like once a week during this hellacious winter. The 4/5/6 is the only subway line that serves the Upper East Side, which means a whole, unhappy neighborhood scrambling for the same back-up routes or cabs. (My back-up to my back-up is just to walk. This has only happened twice, though. Once was during a blizzard.)
9:00—In line for MY back-up route (the crosstown bus to Central Park West and then one of the lines down to Columbus Circle), I email my bosses and let them know I will be in closer to 9:30.
9:40—Try 9:40, Bracken. I pop downstairs to our cafeteria and grab a bagel, even though I’m participating in our office’s unofficial, un-HR-sanctioned weight loss challenge. As a late-blooming New Yorker, I appreciate a good salt bagel on a crummy day. #allyourcarbsarebelongtome
9:45—I was going to try to take one of those cute Instagram-y photos where everything is arranged beautifully, but this is pretty much what my desk looks like every day of the week. The papers on top are work orders for the monthly award mailing I send out of each month’s newly released titles. In February, I went through our Spring and Fall 2014 lists and created a master grid of the books pubbing and what ALA ALSC and YALSA awards they qualify for (Newbery, Caldecott, Printz, Notables, etc.). The committees receive these new titles the first week of the month after I place the order through our warehouse.
10:00—Finish up the rest of the mailings and go through and organize my email. One of my eternal goals is to keep my inbox under 50 emails at all time and have each email be color-coded by category. This is much harder than it sounds, both because I’m not a naturally organized person and we are CC’ing fiends.
11:00—I have a weekly meeting with the head of our department and we go through what I’m working on for the next few days and anything that has come up during one of the many meetings the Marketing Directors attend. This helps me figure out what my priorities are and always adds a few bullets to my to-do list. This is when I usually show her passes of whatever projects I’m working on (posters, brochures, etc.) and get her to sign off on check requests for vendors and author reimbursements. This is also when we talk about the character who was ruthlessly murdered on TV the night before and cry a little into our coffee.
11:30—I’m always working on a batch of print and online ads for our sales reps who sell into our educational wholesalers like Baker & Taylor and Ingram. This week is relatively small, with only three print ads, but one is causing a little problem—on an ad rounding up YA titles, two of the books have covers that haven’t been released to the public yet or aren’t finished. The ad is running in a May issue of the magazine, so I circle back to the editor and publicist to for permission for the designer to include it. This week I also have two online ads that are releasing.
11:35—Sadly finish NPR’s Morning Edition for the day. Not sure when I got into the habit of listening to the news as I work, but I find it very soothing and it helps cancel out some of the office noise. 4:00 PM and I get to listen to Fresh Air!
11:36—Hungry. HUNGRY. HANGRY. Selecting names from our contacts list, as well as researching story time programs at public libraries, for a big mailing. MOSTLY HANGRY. LUNCHHHH.
12:15—Finally go down to the cafeteria again for lunch. Because this winter has been so awful, I have eaten in this cafeteria more over the past four months than I have in my almost four years just to avoid going outside. The food isn’t terrible by any stretch of the imagination, but nobody likes Midtown when it turns into an icy wind tunnel. I have a great group of friends and some part of the group usually sits together to eat and gab.
1:00—Back to finishing pulling contacts and inputting them into a grid. Strangely time-consuming because I cannot find one city’s contact no matter how hard I Google.
1:30—Several of our authors are traveling over the course of the year to go various state library and educational conferences to pick up awards and honors they’ve won. While I don’t schedule any of the travel to and from the big conferences (TLA, ALA, IRA, NCTE), I handle these smaller trips. Finish going back and forth with travel for one author’s flight options, book another’s hotel room, and start drafting itineraries for both. On a roll, but have to stop because I need more information from one of the committees about the location of one of the events.
2:45—The other big component of my job is to update our website and code our newsletter. I switch gears to asking the designer to make one last adjustment to one of the billboards that will run in April and start updating things on the back-end of the site to prepare for the full update on April 1st. Start writing the copy for the May billboards.
3:00—We’re in the middle of brainstorming for our Spring 2015 titles, a process that’s stretched out over five or so weeks. I’m the picture book point person on our team, so I’m now in the power point we use to lay out these plans making small updates before our three hour brainstorming meeting on Wednesday.
4:00—Where did my day go? Oh, that’s right. The MTA ate it. Back to “putting out small fires” AKA going through my email inbox to file everything that’s come in for the day, submit any awards that need to be announced to Publicity, and copying over yesterday’s book reviews into our files (we do this so we can easily quote reviews when creating ads and promo materials)
5:15—For the first time in what must be six solid months, I’m out the door before 6:30/7:00! I need to pick up the package that the postal worker refused to walk up one flight of stairs to ring my doorbell and deliver. The post office near my apartment closes at 6 PM sharp, so it’s a race home to get there in time. I swing by Starbucks for a little tiny boost because…
6:00-10:00—Back to working on book revisions.
10:00—Teen Wolf OMG.
11:00—Passed out in bed.
And then, it’s 7:00 AM again…