Thursday, November 29, 2007

Everything in its place

I'm getting a real sense of my new work routine. Last week's schedule was all messed up because of Thanksgiving, but now I have regular hours--1 to 5 p.m. every day--and I'm getting settled in to the best way to spend that time. I have a good organization system in place, too: different colored stickers for different publication months (Mar/Apr/May are blue/green/red and then it repeats, since I rarely have four months' worth of books to deal with at once) so that I can tell when a book is coming out and make sure my drops* are sorted by pub month without having to open each book and check, yellow stickers for "review received", checkmarks in the yellow stickers when I've edited the review, little folded paperweights with month names written on them for the stacks of books sent out for review, more little folded paperweights that say THIS WEEK and NEXT WEEK and TWO WEEKS for future drops, a shelf for the drops from last week (now being edited onscreen) and the week before (now in layout), and a spreadsheet that runs my life tracks which reviews are out and when they're due and which reviewers don't have any assignments right now and also archives the year's drops in a convenient format so that I can easily copy and paste them into the magazine-wide weekly archive of copyright data. It all works very smoothly and makes me happy.

* Drop == the week's batch of reviews. No more than 10, no fewer than five. This time of year, a drop is usually six reviews; not much coming out in Feburary.

Next week I have five meetings in four days, which will make things interesting; I'll have to edit at a slightly faster pace than I did this week. I finished this week's drop today, and it's unofficially not due until tomorrow and officially not due until Monday, so I'm ahead of the game; but next week I have another six-book drop plus two or three notes about interesting January publications that don't get full reviews for whatever reason--things like major new editions of classics, or biographies of SF/F/H authors, or reader's guides--and I'm trying to give my reviewers line-by-line breakdowns of my edits so that they understand why I make the choices I do and can write reviews that need less editing, so I may have to push a bit to make it all happen. That's okay, though. I thrive on deadline pressure. *grin*

Some week when I have a little more free time, I should write up a post or three about how the PW system works, in general. I'm always surprised by how little people know about it. It's not like it's a big secret. I mean, yes, we try to maintain an aura of Olympian aloofness, but I think it's to our benefit--or to mine, anyway--if publishers and authors and agents know what goes on here and what to expect.

It feels very good to be regaining my mental equilibrium. My manager may make fun of me because I'm so enthusiastic about getting to be in the office every day**, but really, it's doing wonders for my state of mind.

** Excerpt from yesterday's department meeting:

Me: Mm... I don't really like that idea.
Boss: Well, I'm sorry, Rose, but people who enjoy being in the office five days a week don't get to state their opinions.


Other editor: I think they're hoping--
Boss: How do you know?
Other editor: Because I know everyone's hopes and dreams. It's my job. Associate Hopes and Dreams Editor.

I love working here, have I mentioned? The kidding is enough to keep people on their toes, but there's never any animosity under it. We just don't see any reason to be serious all the time.

Friday, November 16, 2007

A winnar is me!

Ooh, ooh, now that it's Friday I can finally post about this! I have been biting my tongue until everything was sorted out and official and all, but now everything is sorted out and official and all, so finally I get to announce:

As of Monday I will be in charge of science fiction, fantasy, and horror book reviews at Publishers Weekly. Peter Cannon, who has handled the section brilliantly for the last several years, will be shifting his focus to mystery and thriller reviews. He's left me a tremendous legacy, and I'm still floored that he's supported me so enthusiastically and been so willing to hand the section over to me.

I will be bringing on some new reviewers, so if you've been dying to write for PW, now's your chance to send me your resume and clips. I'm specifically looking for people who read and write quickly--our deadlines can get very tight--and who have had their work published in some fashion. Fiction or non, online or off, doesn't matter, as long as you've gone through some sort of acceptance and editorial process. Unfortunately, company rules limit me to hiring people who live in the U.S.

How the hell I dropped out of college three times, started at least four different careers over the course of a decade, and still managed to acquire my dream job at the age of 29, I have no idea. I'm just thrilled beyond words, and deeply grateful to everyone who's supported my writing and editing and otherwise helped me to get here.

No raise, sadly, and I'll still be part-time for the nonce, but as of either this week or next, you'll be able to pick up a copy of PW and see my name in the masthead. That's good enough for me.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I know that you believe that you understood what you think I said

I have six reviews to edit in the next three hours. I've already done three today. It's making me a bit punchy.

Best sentence so far:

"[The author] discusses the characters that separate our species from other extinct hominids"

It's going to be a long day.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Letter from the editor

Dear publicists:

When you send us galleys, please include the book's ISBN, price, and publication date. If I can't find that information on your website or on Amazon, I will assume the book has been removed from your line-up, and I will toss it.

If you do include that information on your galleys, please do not then cover it up with a sticker bearing the publicist's name and phone number. While it's useful to be able to call the publicist and say "Why does the back cover of the galley say this is $16.95 when the publicity materials say it's $13.95?", it would be even more useful to be able to see that under the sticker, the galley says "$13.95 / Canada " right before it says "$16.95".

Many thanks,
your tired, congested, easily irritated PW reviews editor