A Day in the Life of an Editorial Assistant

Carly Silver photoby Carly Silver


I am an editorial assistant at Harlequin Special Edition. In that capacity, I assist the senior editor of the line, which focuses on home-and family-oriented relationships. In addition, I also assist two executive editors, each of whom works with her own respective authors in a variety of lines across the publishing house.

9:30 AM-12 PM: I arrive at Harlequin’s offices in downtown New York City. After settling in to my cubicle, I check my work e-mail in Microsoft Outlook to see if I received any important notifications overnight. Seeing a few requests, I make note of them on my calendar alongside my other assignments.

At this point, one of my most urgent tasks is working on “prelims,” also called “front matter.” Prelims include the “front sales” page (the excerpt that’s featured just inside the front cover of a book), the title page, the copyright page, the author’s list of published titles, the acknowledgements, the dedication, etc. I gather all of this information and input it into a database called SMART for one of our Special Edition titles. Information about one of Special Edition’s upcoming series also needs to be updated in a Harlequin information database called HERS. I consult with our managing editorial team to do so.

Because I work directly for three supervisors, I have to juggle a lot of different responsibilities. Luckily, they are all supportive and helpful, as are my co-workers, which has been invaluable during my first few weeks at Harlequin. I’m constantly learning new things on the job, whether it’s how to work with a particular database or understanding the best way to phrase a comment on a manuscript.

12 PM-1 PM: At lunchtime, I bring food from home. With several other co-workers, I eat and chat in the break room.

1 PM-2 PM: Today is a rather special day. Our VP of Series and Subsidiary Rights is visiting the New York offices from Toronto, Canada. For this hour, I meet with her and the rest of my team to discuss our three-year plan.

2 PM-5:30 PM: The work I do in the afternoon is similar to that of the morning. In addition to the types of tasks I completed in the morning, I focus on reading a manuscript that the senior editor gave me. As I read each page, I jot down notes about theme, plot, characters, and other important elements for my reader’s report, which is due at the end of the week.

At 5:30, I pack up and head home.

1 thought on “A Day in the Life of an Editorial Assistant”

  1. I always love to get a glimpse into the usually unseen parts of publishing. It sounds like a great (but demanding) job!

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