A Peek at an Editor’s To-Do List

A little over a year ago, I wrote a post titled A Day in the Life of a Children’s Book Editor. The post was a glimpse into one day of my life and illustrated many of the non-reading and editing tasks and editor has to do on a daily basis.

Today, I’m going to share a peek at my to-do list. I live and die by my to-do list in my planner. Over the years, I’ve used several different calendars and planners, but about three years ago I discovered a planner that combined my calendar and my to-do list into the one book.  Each spread has the calendar for the week on the left-hand side and a blank notebook page on the right. I keep track of all of my deadlines and due dates in the calendar and my to-do list on the notebook page.

Here is a photo from the Moleskin website.

Planner photo 2

The planner is a key part of maintaining my to-do list. I also flag important emails to read and respond to in Outlook and check in that folder several times a day.

Now to the fun part. My current to-do list! My actual to-do list is literally a list of EVERYTHING I have to complete. If something comes up in a meeting, it gets added to the bottom of the list. For the sake of this post, I’m going to break it up into sections. Additionally, I’m being ambiguous with titles to give a generic idea of how my to-do list tends to look from day to day.


Part of my job includes editing movie and television tie-in publishing programs.

  • Send a manuscript to a licensor for comments and approval.
  • Send an interior of a book to a licensor for approval
  • Send an updated publishing schedule to a licensor.
  • Listen to audio recordings of a narrator for one of the licenses I oversee and give feedback. We’re currently recording audio for all of the books in this licenses’s publishing program.

Everything on this part of my to-do list should be completed today.


  • Reread revision of the third book in a chapter book series and send editss to author.
  • Send comments on the outline for the fourth book in the previously mentioned chapter book series to author
  • Read first draft of the ninth book in a middle grade series
  • Read first draft of the sixth book in a middle grade series
  • Read outline and send comments the outline for the first book in a new middle grade series.

When editing manuscripts, I do a cold read first pass where I only write down my instant responses. Then I go back and reread the manuscript to make more substantial comments before writing my edit letter. I do this for every pass of the manuscript stage. Today, I am planning to complete the first item on this list.

Cover copy/Sales Copy

  • I have cover copy to write for three different books at the moment. In addition to the cover copy, I also write sales copy to appear on the sales materials that will go out to booksellers. (Sales materials tend to be the full cover with information about the book and author printed on the back.)

Design conversation

  • I have to set up a meeting with one of the designers to discuss the cover concept and art suggestions for the fifth book in one of the series I edit. Before setting up the meeting, I need to come up with preliminary ideas for the cover and art.


I currently have three different types of submissions I am reading.

  • Agented submissions
  • Contest submissions
  • Conference submissions

We are currently running a contest to find a writer for a new license and I am part of the group of editors reading the submissions. I try to read at least one submission for the contest (10,000 words) every other day. Agented submissions I try to read over weekends. I recently took part in the Rutgers One-on-One Conference and submissions from attendees have started to trickle in to me.

There you have it! My current to-do list! 

Keep in mind, each day is filled with incoming emails, meetings, and interior and cover edits, that take me away from crossing items off of my list. Some days I am able to cross off multiple items, others I don’t cross off a single item.

Coincidentally, today is my five year anniversary at Grosset & Dunlap/Price Stern Sloan (Penguin Young Readers)! My to-do list has changed a lot over the years, but I wouldn’t change a thing.


15 Responses to A Peek at an Editor’s To-Do List

  1. Susan Nov 11 2013 at 10:05 am #

    I love this post. LOVE IT. It’s so, so cool to take a look behind the scenes, Jordan. Thank you for sharing!!

    • thejordache Nov 11 2013 at 10:41 am #

      Thanks, Sooz!

  2. Andrea Nov 11 2013 at 12:11 pm #

    Congratulations on the 5-year workversary!! How exciting! (And on 11/11 no less!) I hope you celebrate accordingly! Thanks for the insight into your to-do =) Sounds like a lot of work and a lot of job satisfaction. Though you must have small handwriting to fit everything in that sweet planner! Thanks for all the hard work you do to help get so many books out there!

    • thejordache Nov 11 2013 at 1:44 pm #

      Thank you! My planner does fill up quickly. There are times when I have to get creative to fit everything!

  3. Olivia Nov 11 2013 at 1:30 pm #

    Thanks for sharing! I’m new to the publishing industry and have taken on several internships, so I’ve been able to catch glimpses of what editors have going on. This is really great insight into just the daily life of an editor, and I love the small details you share that we interns don’t necessarily think of to ask, like your process for editing manuscripts. Love the post!

    • thejordache Nov 11 2013 at 1:46 pm #

      Welcome to the industry! One of the things I love about the publishing industry is that it is an industry where you are basically an apprentice when you start out. Reading edit letters by editors and just listening to everyone’s experience is the best way to learn.

  4. Julie Eshbaugh Nov 11 2013 at 1:51 pm #

    Hey Jordan, Great post! I love the breakdown. I think it’s easy to imagine that editors spend all their time reading manuscripts with a red pencil in hand. Thanks for this very eye-opening glimpse into your world!

    • thejordache Nov 11 2013 at 6:36 pm #

      Thanks, Julie! I do all of my editing with a purple pen! Keeps it interesting!

  5. Erin Bowman Nov 11 2013 at 3:08 pm #

    Jordan, this is so, so fascinating. Thank you for this peek at the other side of the desk. I feel like I understand what my editor tackles daily far better now. 🙂

    • thejordache Nov 11 2013 at 6:38 pm #

      I’m happy to give peeks into the other side of the desk! Editors love our authors and our books, so we do a lot to support the books outside of just editing. I love it.

  6. JoSVolpe Nov 12 2013 at 6:41 am #

    Happy 5 Year Anniversary!!

    You are one busy lady. Really interesting to get a peek behind the curtain.

    • thejordache Nov 12 2013 at 8:31 am #

      Thanks, Jo!

  7. Liz Blocker (@lizblo Nov 12 2013 at 1:16 pm #

    What a cool look behind the scenes. I love getting a peek into other people’s jobs, and into what we all do all day! And good Lord – that’s quite a list!!

  8. Kim Graff Nov 12 2013 at 5:09 pm #

    First off, congratulations on your fifth anniversary!! That’s so exciting 🙂
    Thank you for showing us your to-do list. I never thought about the licensing part of an editors job before now.

  9. Alexa Y. Nov 13 2013 at 2:31 pm #

    Congratulations on your 5 year anniversary! This post seems really fitting, as it gives us an in-depth look into what you’re busy doing during the day. Thanks for sharing — it’s really interesting.

Leave a Reply to Alexa Y. Click here to cancel reply.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.