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A Day in the Life of an Editorial Assistant

By Jordan Wenk


A lot of people hear the word “assistant” and think of someone with frazzled hair rushing to answer phones and schedule appointments, but the word takes on a little bit of a new meaning in the editorial department of a publishing house.

To put it simply, I assist the editors with the multitude of tasks they handle when shaping the manuscript –– without all hands on deck, nothing would ever get finished!

There are some administrative tasks that I tend to as an editorial assistant, such as the maintenance of files for books both upcoming and previously released. During the publishing process there is always a time when you need to refer back to something that was previously done, so it is important for the editors to have up-to-date files for when they need to double check if a book was sent to a certain distributor (check out our blog post to learn more about book distribution) or if certain subject codes have been created for a book, like THEMA codes which are used to tell international distributors what a book is about (which an editorial assistant will create from time to time).

There are other processes that the editorial assistant can help out with that other assistants cannot. My background in editing has given me an understanding of the program InDesign, which is what is used to format and design books for publication. Sometimes a last minute change will need to be made to a book, and an understanding of the tools like InDesign that an editor uses helps fix those last minute changes.

A large part of what I do on a daily basis is data entry for books to be sent to distributors. Managing the metadata (details about the book that do not include the book’s content) and sending it, along with the book’s content, to places such as Amazon, Google Play, and other distributors like Ingram can sometimes be a lengthy process, so the editorial assistant helps smoother and quicker so the editors can focus on editing.

After those details are handled, making sure that the book listings are correct and the book is available for purchase through these different channels is vital –– after all, the book must sell for us to make money! Without this part of the process, distributors would not know if we had books to release, so the editorial assistant keeps a constant eye on these details.

Another responsibility of an editorial assistant is prepping books for layout. Fortunately, one of our former interns, Kristen Joseph, wrote a great blog post that includes a bit of an explanation about that process.

If you’re a regular reader of our posts, you might have noticed that I also write the occasional blog post spotlighting some of our upcoming releases, so it is important to have an understanding of AP style and journalistic writing.

These are all tasks that need a little bit of an understanding of the editorial process, but there are moments where it comes in handy to have some experience in business administration as well. For instance, if the office manager is ever not on hand, it is helpful that the editorial assistant can access certain information through programs like QuickBooks to provide to the editors or project managers.

Being a part of the editorial team and a member of the Atlantic Publishing staff is a dream come true, and no task is uninteresting to someone like me who is fascinated by the publishing industry. I look forward to being a part of this team for a long time.

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