Sunday, 29 November 2009

7 Weeks as an Editorial Assistant

Time has flown. I can't believe it has already been seven weeks since I landed my job at Pearson Education, an international publishers. It's about time I wrote a post about it.

Firstly, let me start by saying that everyone at the company has been really nice - even the post guy, who learnt my name within a few days. Everyone has been so welcoming and patient and helpful. The building itself is extremely impressive - eco-friendly, spaciously designed, has a cafe, a restaurant, a gym... It's amazing.

I expect that the title 'editorial assistant' means different things to different publishers. As I work with educational books, I expect that the role of an editorial assistant who works with fiction would be fairly different.

These are generally the types of things I have been doing these past few weeks:

- Writing questionnaires about textbooks or book proposals; finding tutors to reviewer them; gathering up the reviews; writing review summaries to pass on to the authors. Quite a large chunk of my time has been spent doing this, so far.

Author Contact
- Keeping in touch with the authors; checking up on how their manuscripts are coming along, etc.

- Working with the contracts team to make sure the right information gets put into contracts, then posting them out and keeping track of them.

Supplement Handovers

- Many of our books have extra features (e.g. companion websites). It's my job to sort out the supplements that the author provides, and make it easily accessible and presentable for the sups team.

Manuscript Handovers
- I've only done one of these (and with a lot of help). Making sure manuscripts are presentable and everything is included, so that the production team can work on them.

Design Briefing

- One of my favourite parts of the job. Briefing the design team on cover ideas; collaborating with other team members and the authors on improving designs, choosing designs, etc.

Blurb Writing
- I quite enjoy this. Writing the blurbs for new books/new editions.

- Making sure the right people get paid the right amount for the right thing. Basically, I have to fill out the forms - the payments team deal with the actual money.

Prelim Checking
- Checking that the preliminary pages of a new book are all in order. Making sure all the rights are covered, and the contents list matches up etc.

- Putting together reports/data sets of potential markets for new books, that kinda thing.


- Putting data into the big database we use, to make sure that all the electronic information about books and their publishing schedules are up to date. Quite tricky - the database is huge and I'm still getting to grips with it.

Meeting Authors
- Haven't done this yet, but I'm meeting up with one of our author's on Monday with my boss to talk about his new book proposal, which I have gathered the reviews for.

- I post out a lot of books. Mostly to reviewers, but I recently had to post out about thirty books to a bunch of contributors as part of their payment.

Attending Meetings
- There are weekly meetings held to discuss whether or not a new book should be published. I don't say much in these meetings yet as I'm still learning a lot, and feel I don't yet have much of value to add to the discussion, but I find these meeting interesting nevertheless.

Drinking Tea
- This is a big part of the job. It is compulsory to drink at least three-four cups a day (many editorial assistants drink much more than this - but they've had more experience than me!).

In all, I feel like I've learnt a huge amount over these few weeks. And I still have a lot more to learn. I'm enjoying it and feel very privileged to be working for such a great company.


  1. What a great sounding job! It's fascinating to hear some details about how publishers work.

  2. Great! Especially the tea-drinking, I'm a master at that. Sounds to me like you're fitting in well.

  3. Very cool. That sounds like a writer's gold mine. So much to learn!

    Great job and keep it up. We'll be here, begging for advice from you all the while :)

  4. Thanks to you four for dropping by.

    This is the kind of thing I would have been interested in knowing while I was researching for this job... So I thought I would share! Glad you find it interesting.

  5. Nice one Cap. This sounds like really good experience and the kind of job you come home from with a smile on your face. Enviable!

    NB: I really think the experience shows in your writing and critting! Good job so far on the flash league and thanks for your comments on that beast of a story I had up a while back.


  6. Wow, Sophie. Sounds like you are learning a LOT! Do keep us posted and Good Luck!


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