A Day in the Life… of an Editorial Assistant (Part 1)

When you pluck a book off a shelf, you probably don’t see the invisible army behind each page — the bunches of people who helped the author take those pages from unedited manuscript to shiny finished copy. So this week, we’re giving you an all-access pass into the lives of some of the most important people in the publishing process — “the assistants”. We’re going to talk to assistants from all our departments to give you a better sense of what they do, and how they help get that beautiful book into your hands.

If you want to ask any of our assistants a question about their jobs, just post it in the comments below their blog and they’ll get back to you ASAP. Enjoy!

Today, we’re peering into the life of one of Hot Key Books’ Editorial Assistants, Naomi Colthurst. Since Naomi started at Hot Key Books in 2011, she has organised a lot of book fair schedules, written countless AIs (Advanced Information sheets that are used for selling), and called for dozens and dozens of taxis.

Naomi Colthurst low resHi, I’m Naomi – hopefully this video will explain a little bit more about what I get up to on a day-to-day basis and what you might be expected to do if you’re interested in becoming an Editorial Assistant. Be warned: most of my job is NOT reading! 

4 responses to “A Day in the Life… of an Editorial Assistant (Part 1)

  1. Who doesn’t love a colour-coded spreadsheet!!

  2. Sounds very busy. When you’re writing those blurbs for the books, do you ever just use the blurb that comes from the author or agent when the manuscript comes in? If not, does that mean you actually read every book? These are great behind the scenes glimpses. Publising is really a mysterious beast to those not in the business.

    • Hi Gaby! Yes, it is rather busy, but it’s a great kind of busy. It’s amazing to be involved in such a dynamic, varied and interesting workplace – we’re always moving on to the next big idea!

      Blurbs are really tricky – we almost always write our own, because usually when an agent provides a blurb (often included in their original email to you, which will pitch the book) it will be quite long and more like a synopsis, which isn’t what back cover copy should be. Back cover copy should be really short and punchy – giving you a good hint of the book (and a bit of the set up) without giving away any of the plot – so it’s no surprise it usually takes me several attempts! AI (Advanced Information sheet) copy can be a little bit easier to do as it’s allowed to be longer and more descriptive. I am always inclined to ‘over-explain’ in my copy, so it’s something I’m working on!

      If an author specifically wants to write their own blurb, then obviously we take what they write into serious consideration – but it can take an author a few attempts too, as it really is a very tricky thing to get right! Lots of the big publishing houses have separate departments dedicated just to writing back cover copy, so that should give you an idea of how important it is AND how difficult it is!

      But the main thing is, yes, I read every book I am responsible for. I think it’s really important to know what you’re working with, and luckily for me we have a manageable list which means I can read everything and really get to know it. I try to read as much as possible outside my specific list too, just for the same reasons.

      Hope that helps, and let me know if you have any other questions! Really glad to hear you’ve been finding the blogs useful.

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