One of the bigger adjustments for me, going from an academic setting to a business environment, is having to adhere to a regular 9-5 work schedule. I had gotten used (perhaps too much so) to the graduate student lifestyle; even while I spent a year adjuncting, looking for full time work, my schedule was mostly flexible. In fact, this is probably the one thing I envy my friends who have pursued academic careers – the schedule.
I digress, probably because I have a long commute in the morning. My girlfriend and I rented an apartment in Astoria before I had full time work; and now, the trip from Queens to Dumbo, in Brooklyn, takes an hour on the subway. I arrive at work around 9am. As is usual in New York one must deal with the vagaries of public transportation, so sometimes I’m a few minutes early, sometimes a few minutes late. The first thing I do is turn on my computer, and as it boots I proceed to put my lunch in the fridge, make breakfast, and pour myself coffee.
I get a lot of email on Monday mornings. I get a lot of email anyway, but as I am dealing with academics, who often can only find time on the weekend to work on their research projects, Monday morning is particularly heavy. The first thing I do, as I eat and sip coffee, is read through my emails, mark any that require a lengthy response or some labor on my part, and try to fire off answers to those asking simpler, more straightforward questions.
After answering the easy emails, I usually take time in the morning to get through others that require a lengthy response, but don’t necessarily relate to ongoing manuscript processes. These are the situations where the time I spent formatting my dissertation and teaching composition come in handy, as such responses often involve guiding editors and authors through issues of proper style. For example, one email I received this morning had questions regarding documentation and bibliographic information. This involves hunting through the Chicago Manual of Style for information on the proper ways of citing titled nobles. How does one cite the Marquis of Halifax? Needless to say, even for those familiar with it, finding exact information in the Chicago Manual in sometimes a daunting task. Another question in the same email asked about –ize spellings (like organize) in manuscripts that otherwise use British English (which traditionally spells the word organise). Berghahn, following the lead of the Oxford English Dictionary, have begun to use –ize spellings. Apologies to the mother tongue – at least they still have -our and –re spellings. This is one of the real “editorial” parts of the job: guiding authors in matters of style to help them produce the best possible manuscript. It helps if you have a taste for the vagaries of language and citation.
On Mondays, we have our weekly editorial meeting, where the publisher/editorial director, the editorial assistant with whom I share many duties, and myself discuss recent proposals, peer reviews, and other editorial matters of the past week. This is the closest thing to “where the magic happens,” as we decide which manuscripts to pursue and which to decline. While the publisher is the final arbiter, I often have the chance to shape decisions through my recommendations at the meeting.
The rest of the day is spent dealing with my general list of duties: processing proposals, requesting and processing peer reviews, working with authors on revisions (which you’ve already had a sneak preview of), and conducting editorial work on submitted manuscripts. But I’ll get to those things in greater degree as the week goes on.
That’s a pretty typical day, then – come in the morning, answer emails, work on existing projects, maybe have a meeting. Oh, and of course, there’s an hour for lunch in there. The vast majority of my days repeat this pattern in some form or another. In my next post, I’ll begin outlining the general academic publishing procedure from my perspective.