A Day in the Life of a Project Manager
By Danielle Lieneman
My day is full of numerous tasks that many don’t even realize are necessary to create a book; it’s not just editing and printing!
My first interaction with a manuscript usually occurs before the contract is even signed. After our publishing consultants meet with an author, they send the rough draft to our editorial team. We read through the manuscript and do market research to determine if the manuscript will be a good fit for our company, frequently providing constructive feedback to the author along the way.
When we first get a new contract, it’s my responsibility to add the author to our project management software and assign basic data for the book (ISBN numbers, BISAC codes, and location numbers — we’ll elaborate on these in a later post, so don’t worry!). During this time, I also reach out to the author to introduce myself and work with them to get to a final manuscript they’d like to use for publication.
One of the first things we start with surprisingly has nothing to do with writing or editing. It’s imperative that we get the cover done as quickly as possible so that both the publisher and the author can begin to market the book ahead of its release. As project manager, I’m the go-between for the graphic designer and the author. I speak with the author about what they envision for the cover and interior, provide suggestions based on my experience in the publishing industry, and collaborate with the designer to best combine the different components into a striking, cohesive design that grabs a reader’s attention. After our designer creates two or three mock-ups, I send those to the author, who gives me constructive criticism to convey to the designer. Once we get a final cover, we are able to start marketing!
While all of this is going on, I’m also typically editing the manuscript and helping the author revise. In some cases, I pass the manuscript on to one of our other editors if they’re more knowledgeable about the subject than I am or have a particular interest in the genre. (Come back in a few weeks for a breakdown of an editor’s day-to-day life!) Even if I’m not the editor, I still remain in close contact with the author to relay updates concerning where their book is in the process of production.
Once the author and I have agreed on a final version of the manuscript, one of our editorial assistants registers the manuscript with the Library of Congress and preps it for layout. This step has a few different components: the manuscript is formatted properly; the headings and subheadings are created for the Table of Contents; any photos and graphs are placed within the manuscript; and the most common grammatical and typo errors are searched for. While I usually don’t handle this step for most manuscripts, it’s my responsibility to oversee the assistants and answer any questions they may have about a particular project. Then the manuscript is ready to head to design!
With little-to-no design experience, thankfully my responsibilities with the layout process are similar to those for the cover design: I facilitate discussion between the author and the graphic designer about what the interior of the book should look like.
After the interior layout has been completed, my editorial team and I will proofread the book to ensure that no typos or grammatical errors slipped through — you can never have too many eyes on a manuscript!
Once a book has been published, a whole myriad of tasks fall on me all at once like uploading the e-books to sites that you, as a consumer, are familiar with, like Amazon and Google, and our distributors who sell directly to schools, libraries, and bookstores. While that may sound simple, every distributor has their own rules for how items should be formatted and has their own spreadsheet to upload data. It’s a lot to learn!
We also run advertising campaigns, primarily on social media and Amazon. My editorial staff and I meet monthly to create a marketing/social media calendar, divvy up the assignments of blog posts and social media blasts, and make a list of graphics that need to be created throughout the month (like this super cute photo we used for a new middle grade title, Kahallawallapoopoo).
Along those same lines, as an editorial project manager I work with the designer to create ads for Ingram, and Baker and Taylor, our two biggest distributors, and our yearly catalog to showcase all of our titles.
Of course I couldn’t possibly do all of this in one day –– there’s only 24 hours in a day (and only 8 in a work day!) But my typical consists of bits and pieces from each different aspect. A normal day for me includes editing parts from two or three manuscripts in various states of development, proofreading one or two manuscripts, coordinating cover and interior design with at least one author, an acquisition from our publishing consultants, and numerous phone calls and meetings with authors, the design team, and the publishing consultants. There’s also usually a mix of the administrative and marketing tasks just to keep things interesting, everything from Library of Congress data to uploading e-books and writing blog posts.
While my job might seem like it’s full of responsibilities, having the ability to see a manuscript from it’s rough beginning to a polished, finished product really sets this job apart.