Day in the Life of an Editor

By Kathleen Scheibling, Senior Editor Harlequin American Romance, Harlequin Blaze

Question: What’s a typical day in the life of an editor?

Answer: There are no typical days!


Truly, every day is a mixed bag of stress, meetings, laughs, chats and more. For the sake of this blog I shall try to describe many of the things an editor may do on a daily basis. This is a Monday:

7:15 a.m. On the subway. Reading this month’s Blazes (if they aren’t books I’ve worked on already) on my Kindle so I can write up the monthly Blaze Authors blog ( Catch young man reading over my shoulder. Give him saucy eyebrow lift. * Crickets *

8:00 a.m. On the bus. Check Twitter on my phone while trying to drown out conversations of local high school kids. Like, like, like, he’s sooooo awesome!!! (Junior doesn’t know this is a like-free zone.)

8:30 a.m. Boot up computer. Eat breakfast while reading a few publishing articles. Word of the Day email – Presentiment: a sense that something is going to happen, especially something bad. 🙂 Oh, great. Drink second cup of coffee. It’s decaf, but I still need it.

9:00 a.m. Time to go through email. Reply to anything on fire. Route manuscripts in production to freelancers, or to authors. Lots of correspondence. Read, approve and stamp cover copy for three different series – Blaze, American Romance and our DTC-only Mystery program. Send to Production. Whew, that’s done. I receive two sets of these per line, per month (covers and inside book materials). Consult information-rich sticky notes decorating my computer.

9:45 a.m. Phone call from Tony in Art. He wants to show me his ideas for some upcoming Blazes. Up to the 8th floor so I can view this on Tony’s awesome Mac, not my two-hamster-powered PC. On the way back I check in with Krista, who does our American Romance covers. We talk about some new models she wants to use. Do they have big biceps? Yes? I approve them immediately. 🙂

10:15 a.m. Johanna accosts me in the hallway on the way to my office and I almost run her down. Tackling me is often the only way to get some time with me. She sometimes brings me banana chocolate chip cookies to make our meetings extra-fun. She is a smart woman. We talk about some stuff re the authors she works with (promotion, titles, an agent called and…). Someone is potentially going to be late with a book. Better check my schedules… Yell to Adrienne down the hall to come in for an impromptu meeting. I enjoy yelling “Adrienne!!” I have to admit. She agrees to take on some extra work that’s come in. Thanks, dude. Good team.

11 a.m. Quick check in with Dana, our assistant editor. She’s sending out replies to slush manuscripts. Has it all in hand. Thanks, Dana. She’s also working on an edit, checking on book orders, printing out Art Fact Sheets for a meeting tomorrow. She’s busy. I back out of her office on a light tide of “We Are the Champions.” (She likes Queen and has a radio playing softly in her office.)

11:15 Oops, late for meeting with Laura re our Mystery program, which she manages. Going over reader reports, schedules. We talk recipes for a bit. Laura and I are both on a bit of a health kick. (As Sara Jane Stone and Katherine Garbera know well. Senor Veggie, anyone?)

Noon! believe in lunch. Lunch is a religion to me. But first, exercise. It’s sunny, so I put on the running shoes and head out with Nicole, a senior editor for MIRA. She walks fast and I like it. We talk films, catch up on office gossip.



12:45 p.m. EAT.

12:48 p.m. Back to the grind. It’s possible I eat too fast. Check emails. Check Twitter.

1 p.m. Scheduled phone call with author. We talk about her new proposals. Texas Ranger heroes? Just say yes! She agrees to send in a proposal for three new books. We have worked together for twelve years – I know she’ll be delivering something great so this makes me happy! Once I hang up, it’s back to emails. Requests from higher-ups – they need reports, suggestions, a whole bunch of stuff. Yeah, well, I need a cup of tea and a cookie. Eat chocolate stashed in desk. Nom nom.

2 p.m. Weekly meeting with my team – Dana, Adrienne, Johanna and Laura. Agenda: schedules, contracts, authors, marketing / art changes, company business. Adrienne goes off the rails talking about some damn thing, but at least she’s funny. Whew, these meetings are exhausting. But amusing.

3 p.m. Email, email, email. Okay, FULL-ON CRISIS. Pages missing in published book. Call Production! March down to Production! Issues solved fairly quickly. New books ordered and sent out before the pub date. Thank you, quality check! (I am a big marcher. Easiest to deal with issues face to face, yes?)

4 p.m. Why are so many people in my office? GET OUT. Oh, hi, boss. Yes, all is going well. Sure, I’ll have those year-end strategy reports in by Friday. (When is Friday???)

4:30 p.m. Transfer some reading material to my Kindle. I’m a hybrid reader. I still find it easier to take notes on paper for some things but paper is damn heavy when you take the bus. Email, email.

5:10 p.m. Catch ride to the subway with a car-owning colleague. Tomorrow is a day I’m working at home. Have two manuscripts to read and a line edit to begin. I can do that all in one day, right?

Photos by @Piyacampana