When I arrive at work each morning, I enter the office through the large metal door seen here, and then pass through our little hallway of books:
Perhaps the most time consuming (and rewarding, in many ways) part of my job is working with manuscripts once they’ve been revised by authors and are ready for actual publication. While I don’t conduct a full copy edit of the manuscript (this is done by freelancers at a later stage), I am responsible for the condition of the manuscript before it is sent to the production department. When a manuscript comes to me, it arrives in three parts: the manuscript itself, any image or supplemental files, and the paperwork the press requires.
I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this yet or not, but nowadays almost all publishing work is done on the computer (this is probably not a surprise to you). Here’s my desk, for example, where I spend the better part of my day, like many office workers:
Thus, the job requires a bit of tech savvy. Not much, mind you, but enough. For example, part of my duties at this stage in the process is insuring that the quality of the image files is sufficient for reproduction, and that they’ve been sent in the correct file format. For the manuscript itself, I have to check file formats again, look for hidden text, and rename files if necessary to insure consistency. It helps if one knows one’s way around basic Microsoft Office and Adobe programs.
Aside from the technical matters, I also need to examine the manuscript for formatting issues, and to see if the manuscript makes sense as currently constituted. So I put my editor’s hat on, and check the bibliography and notes, figure callouts, and subheadings. However, I’m also looking at conceptual and structural dimensions as well; for example, does the introduction accomplish the work it should, or do the chapters need to be rearranged? Lastly, I draft the marketing blurb for the book, as well as assign it metadata (this the information that distributors and retailers get about the subject matter). So while part of the task is more rote, another part of it is more creative, and more quintessentially editorial. Finally, at this stage you finally have the time to read parts of the book, or at least skim them. Berghahn has a small but growing film studies list, a subject close to my heart, so I’m particularly happy when one comes through the pipeline!
Once all the issues regarding the manuscript and its supplemental materials have been resolved, which sometimes takes a few back and forth emails with the author, I package and send everything to the production department (electronically). Then my job is done, at least with that manuscript. I’ve shepherded it through the entire process, from when it was still just a proposal, to soliciting peer reviews for it, advising on the revisions process, and then finally checking it header to footer. Bon voyage, my little friend!
About a year later, I get a little surprise when I see the advances of the book, with a cover design, and everything I worked on incorporated into a final product. As I’ve been with Berghahn for about a year now, I am finally starting to see books where I did the finishing editorial touches appear!
Questions? Share your thoughts!