A DAY IN THE LIFE OF…. Judith Long by SJV
Next up in our series of A Day in the Life of feature is @TeamBATC member, Editorial Assistant, Judith Long!
What does an editorial assistant do?
I work with more senior editors and their authors to get the texts of books ready to publish, as well as working on cover copy, sales copy, briefing jackets and all that fun stuff. On the less glamorous side, I look after a lot of spreadsheets, organise meetings and do all the random things that need doing but aren’t anyone else’s job (ever spent a morning looking for a bonsai tree that had been delivered to your office but no-one could find? Tried to find a florist in Korea? Sourced 60 yellow felt tips on two days notice? I have). The good definitely outweighs the less interesting, and it really is the best way of getting to know everything that needs to happen to get a book to publication and into the hands of readers. Where more senior editors tend to specialise on specific types of books, I get to work on a bit of everything, so I can be working on a page-turning romance novel, a gritty crime novel and a beautiful literary novel all in the same week.
Is there such a thing as a typical day, and if so what does it look like?
There definitely isn’t – every day is so different! There’s some stuff with my job that happens at the same time every week or every month, but one of the best things about working in publishing is that no two days are ever the same. As editorial assistant, you get to be involved with a lot of different projects at different stages and the variety will always keep you on your toes. The only thing my days have in common is a lot of tea breaks (very important) and a to-do list that grows as quickly as I can work through it (and who wants to be bored anyway?).
For the record, if I was a budding debut author, faced with the dreaded blank first page, what would be your top tip to bestseller success?
Just write and don’t look back.
With your first draft, you’re just telling the story to yourself, working out where you want it to go and how you’re going to get there. You’ll have later drafts to tidy up the fact that you changed your mind about what a character should be called partway through, or that you started a sub-plot that you then forgot about.
Just power through to the end and bask in your greatness at getting there (and then go back for draft two, but basking first is important).
We’re obsessed with other peoples TBR piles, how high is yours? And do you have 2, one for work books and one for pleasure books?
It’s gigantic. I have books from work and books that I couldn’t resist bookstore, books I’ve borrowed from friends and, when I go to the library, I apparently imagine myself as a person with a mountain of spare time on my hands. I do a lot of my work reading on my kindle and my real life reading is always in print, but there’s a lot of crossover between what I read for work and what I read for fun. I just pick what I’m most excited about next.
Have you got a best and worst part of the job?
Working with great authors and seeing the finished books after working on them is always the best part. It’s so exciting to see someone on the train reading a book that you helped on its way. The worst part is when a book doesn’t do as well as you hoped – sometimes, no matter how much you love a book, it just isn’t to be and that’s always disappointing for everyone involved.
Is there an author you’d sell a limb to work with?
Paige Toon! Curtis Sittenfeld, too. I’ve read every book that both of them have written and I am completely in love.
What book do you most recommend to others?
Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel is one of my favourites. Every time I read it, I feel like it’s just not possible to have a more perfect book. I had no idea that I would love an apocalypse adventure story with a side of Shakespeare and comic books but it’s amazing and I recommend it all the time.
And lastly our quick fire trivia round…
Thing you’d never leave home without? My keys and my phone/ipod.
Favourite place to read? The beach! (Or, since I don’t live anywhere near a beach, my sofa).
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live? Is there somewhere that looks like Hawaii in summer but gets great snow in winter? I want to live there…
What’s the secret to success? Determination.
What’s on your current reading pile? So much! I’m reading Perfect Tunes, which is coming out this summer and I recently bought a copy of The Castle on Sunset about the history of the Chateau Marmont in Hollywood, which I’m really looking forward to reading.
Staying in or Going out? Going out.
What’s your Signature dish? Chicken Pie.
Beach break or city break? Beach break!
Favourite Literary Hero? I refuse to live in a world where I can have only one!
Famous last words? What’s the worst that could happen?