Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Today I’m celebrating my one-year anniversary working at HarperCollins. And I still love it! Nine months ago I tracked what I did for a week to give all of you an idea of what an ‘average’ week for an editorial assistant. So this is what I’m doing now-a-days:

Monday, 11/14
Settle in, emails, social media
Write Reader’s Report for second draft of BOOK A, which I read over the weekend. Review Boss #1’s editorial letter for first draft of BOOK A.

Emails, prepare for meeting with Boss #1
Meet with Boss #1, discuss BOOK A, how to help author with some publicity for BOOK B, rework text in BOOK C, new acquisition of BOOK D
Review final BOOK E
Eat lunch while sending emails, organizing emails, reading industry-related emails, update group documents
Leave office to run personal errand
Update Facebook page with our Winter 2012 titles
Meet with Boss #1 and Digital Person to discuss digital strategy for author of BOOK F
Misc including emails and circ’ing materials
Mail copies of BOOK E to author and illustrator; copying
Discuss ideas for SUBMISSION B with Coworker #1
Circulate materials, organize and prepare for tomorrow

Tuesday, 11/15
Settle in, emails, social media (late due to subway problems!)
Circulate materials
Misc, including emails and researching a conference I might attend in March
Finish updating Facebook page with our Winter 2012 titles
Group “Lunch” meeting with Kate Jackson (Sr VP/Associate Pub/Editor-In-Chief)
Run out to get lunch and do some personal errands
Eat lunch, emails
Finishing reading SUBMISSION A, write Reader’s Report
Misc, including emails, mailing book to author
Help author order additional copies of BOOK G
Research information online to help author with publicity for BOOK B
Research information online about publicity for BOOK H
Organize email
Read industry magazine, prepare for tomorrow

Wednesday, 11/16
Settle in, emails, social media, finish reading industry magazine
Draft catalog copy for BOOKS I, J, and K
Misc, including helping author with publicity for BOOK B, updating addresses
Read industry blogs
Maintain KT Facebook page
Read BOOK L (eat lunch around 1:30)
Review and circulate materials
Review meeting notes, prepare for tomorrow

Thursday, 11/17
Settle in, emails, social media
Read industry emails
KT Books team meeting
Discuss covers for BOOKS L & M, and others, with designers
Format and submit flap copy for BOOK N
Draft catalog copy for BOOKS O, P, Q, R, S
Attend HarperCollings Emerging Professionals (HCEP) meeting
Misc including go to mailroom to get UPS labels, circulate materials for signatures
Type up meeting notes from HCEP meeting
Marketing meeting
Finish typing up HCEP meeting notes
Prepare bookseller mailing for BOOK Q
Misc including emails, social media, circulating materials, helping author with two publicity opportunities for BOOK B
Read SUBMISSION C (planned on reading for an hour)

Friday, 11/18
Settle in, emails, make one personal phone call, revise P&L for SUB A 
Find reviews to support quotes for BOOK N’s flap copy
Finish drafts of catalog copy for BOOKS I, J, and K
Misc including finish putting together contract request materials for SUB D and circulate, email out HCEP Meeting notes
Draft catalog copy for BOOK T
Circulate materials, read industry emails, revise P&L for SUB A
Draft copy for BOOK L
Read industry emails/websites while eating lunch
Run out for personal errand
Misc including emails, read industry blogs, print label for mailing artwork of BOOK O, review circulating materials
“Digital Tutorial”
Review and organize reviews received
Prepare, package, and send artwork for BOOK O
Misc including circulate P&L for SUB D, review circulating materials
Read SUB C

Saturday, 11/19
Read SUB C (eat breakfast around 9:15)
Read SUB C
Read SUB C

Sunday, 11/20
Read SUB C
Read SUB C
Read SUB C

With twenty books and four submissions in one week—there are plenty of great projects I’m working on! An editorial assistant’s life is busy, but it’s so worth it! Year in and year out!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Book Club: Scorpio Races

The Scorpio RacesThis month’s pick for the Fall Book Club is Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. I read the book a while ago when I snatched up the ARC at BEA so this review is going to be briefer than most of my book club reviews. I look forward to hearing what others think about this new novel from the Wolves of Mercy Falls author.

Overall, I’m torn about this novel. It’s so different than the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy, which I adored. This novel is older, darker. And based on sales numbers, lots of readers are confused about this novel, too. During a brief conversation at Harper many editors didn’t know if this was teen or tween—you know you’re in trouble when publishing professionals don’t even know the basic details about a book!

The strength in this novel is the language. Stiefvater builds a beautifully cold and isolated world using a few words as possible. And the sparse dialog, especially between Puck and Sean, really proves that Maggie Stiefvater is a talented writer.

It’s Puck and Sean’s relationship, though, that caused me to pause the most while reading the novel. Their relationship isn’t the sigh-and-swoon type of Sam and Grace. I never actually felt connected to them. I cared more about Sean’s water horse than Sean himself. The characters seemed like a excuse to use the language rather than being the driving factor for the story.

The Scorpio RacesIn the end, I’m glad that this is a one-off and not the beginning of a series. Although the writing was compelling I doubt I’d pick up a sequel. And the cover art isn’t doing the book any favors, either. It’s dull—almost appropriate for non-fiction. Check out the UK art, it’s world’s better!

What do you think; are water horses going to be the next trend in paranormal?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Back to School

Today’s RTW Question from YA Highway: If you had the power to change school curriculums, which books would you be sure high school students were required to read?

I love this question because it’s one I’ve thought about a lot; I had a great English teacher for AP English both junior and senior years who introduced me to the classics and I loved (most of) them. But I was that type of student. But for so many teens it’s more important to get them reading a book they’ll find interesting—and find a way to include a bit of a lesson, too. As disappointing as I find it, Shakespeare and Austen just aren’t everyone’s cup of tea!

Here are my suggestions—and yes, I couldn’t help but include a few classics!

Wide Sargasso Sea (Norton Critical Editions)Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
This pairing is so important that both my high school teacher and a college professor taught it. And although I don’t love Wide Sargasso Sea reading the two books side-by-side is a great study in retellings, feminism, racism, and all sorts of possibilities.

YouYou by Charles Benoit
Ever since I read Charles’ debut teen novel I’ve wanted to send it to my high school with a big “USE THIS” note. This is the perfect book for students—especially boys—on in a non-AP English track; it’s compelling, gripping, and gritty. And it’s written entirely in second person, which is a great way for classes to discuss point of view.

Go Ask AliceGo Ask Alice
Or a more contemporary story about teen issues like drug use, suicide, pressures to be perfect. Perhaps Thirteen Reasons Why, or novels by Ellen Hopkins and Amy Reed. Great classroom discussions!

The Book ThiefThe Book Thief by Markus Zusak
We read a lot of Holocaust literature in my middle and high schools—The Diary of Anne Frank, Maus by Art Spiegelman, Night, Dawn, and Day by Elie Wiesel. By the end of each Holocaust unit I felt desensitized because the discussions were so repetitive. The Book Thief, though, adds a really interesting and new perspective to this literature.

And, in addition to Jane Eyre you’d have to keep some Shakespeare, at least one Dickens, one Austen, The Canterbury Tales, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby, a poetry unit, and I’m sure there are other classic curriculum choices I’m forgetting!

Monday, November 14, 2011


Mastiff: The Legend of Beka Cooper #3Yesterday I got to meet one of my idols—fantasy author Tamora Pierce. She was appearing on a panel at the wonderful store Books of Wonder along with six other talented authors (including Rae Carson whose The Girl of Fire and Thorns is excellent and perfect for Tamora fans). I cannot begin to explain how honored I was to finally meet Tamora. I might have gotten a bit fangirl on her—but I’ve been waiting since I was ten to meet her! Alanna: The First Adventure introduced me to fantasy when it was part of the sixth grade curriculum. When my peers read the first for weeks in class I rushed to the library and read the entire series at home. I was hooked. And ever since then my writing has been informed by Tamora’s works. Her novels are still the closest comparative titles to my work in progress. So, to say the least, she—and her books—are pretty important to me. Meeting her in person did not disappoint, either, as is so often the case when you meet an idol. She spoke so wisely on the genre and on writing. And despite the fact that the line to get books signed by her was ridiculously long and meant she had to stay long past when the event was due to end, she kindly signed each and every book fans brought and had a brief conversation. It was wonderful. And the way she signed my copy of Mastiff, her latest book? “Be legendary.” I’m working on it, Tamora, I’m working on it!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Today’s RTW Question from YA Highway: What are your writing and publishing superpowers? And what’s your kryptonite?

What a great question—and I love seeing how writers have so many different strengths and weaknesses. Something I struggle with might be someone elses strongpoint…and something that is a piece of cake for me might be what a well-respected published author really has trouble with. A conversation like this is a great way to put everything in perspective.

My superpowers:

World-Building: I love creating worlds. I played pretend in my backyard or with barbies in the basement until I was way too old, because it was a way for me to create landscapes and rules and wonderfully rich worlds. When I started writing instead of playing dress up my desire to create worlds was a driving factor. And I know the world of my WIPs so well—I have street maps of the capital city of Coracus and can tell you the best way to travel through the crooked streets from the herbalist’s to the main square; I have demographic maps of the kingdom of Harren; I have physical maps of the entire continent; I have family trees that go back ten generations for the royal family, the Cymberlys. All these documents help inform the world when I’m writing so that it becomes rich, lush, and real. Having consistent rules for your world is one of the most important factors in making that world seem real and these documents help me make sure everything is aligned.

Plotting: I can come up with a plausible basic plot so quickly and it’s easy for me to outline the major events of my novel. The sub-plots and sub-sub-plots that add layers to my stories, not so much…

Reading and Critiquing: I sure hope I’m good at this, because it’s my job working in the editorial department! Reading multiple manuscripts a week I’ve learned to quickly tell what the strengths of the work is, what needs improvement, and offer feedback on the best way to make it the best book it can be.

Industry Awareness: Again, working in the publishing industry helps me keep on top of trends and frequently networking with the best agents and editors out there. This comes in handy during both the writing process, but even more so, querying and beyond.

My Kryptonite:

Characters: The characters I write are so vivid in my head—they’re alive, strong, flawed—but I’ve yet to learn how to make that come out on paper. This is my biggest weakness since most YA novels nowadays are character-driven, and if the agent/editor/reader doesn’t relate to the character they’re likely not to read, or like, the novel.

Romance: This relates to the first point; if I can’t make my characters come alive, it’s really difficult to build a relationship full of longing, steamy scenes, and heartbreak. Again, 99% of YA has to have a compelling romance, so this is a really important point I’m working on.

Sub-plots: Like I said before, the bare bones plot comes to me easily, but when it comes to adding depth to the novel I really have to push it. Each major revision I’ve done to my WIP The Rose of Coracus has included adding another layer to the plot for more depth and richness.

Spelling and grammar: You would think that someone who was a Creative Writing major and works in the editorial department at a publishing house could spell. And would know proper grammar. But that’s what spell check and copyeditors are for! I couldn’t do without them!

What are your writing superpowers? What’s your downfall?