A Day in the Life of Another Acquisitions Editor

The following is a guest post by Senior Editor Stephen S. Power, sharing the books, conversations, and coffee that make up a typical day.

9-10 AM: As Paul Erdos might have said, an editor is a machine for turning coffee into books. Fortunately one of the great perks at Amacom is a wide selection of free coffees. Thus armed with a mug of Kenyan, I spend the first hour of the day answering emails and scanning the NY Times, political blogs and business sites to take the temperature of the world. I’m not necessarily looking for book ideas. Rather, I’m looking at the environment for book ideas.

10:15 AM: An author requested some changes to a contract. I pass them to my executive editor along with my comments, which range from “Yes” to “No” to “How can we do this, but using different language?”

10:30 AM: AMA wants to use a backlist author’s book as a premium. I email her to ask for her approval. She gives it.

10:45 AM: Speak with our creative director about a book that I’d like to reposition, based on the delivered manuscript. This has ramifications for the catalog copy, which is nearly on press.

11:00 AM: Coffee: Ethiopian. Our sales conference is the week after Thanksgiving, where I will present two titles. I’ve delivered any number of sales speeches over the years, but to get a sense of what AMACOM wants in one, these being my first for them, I read a stack of my colleagues’ past speeches.

11:20 AM: Read the first of four proposals for our next editorial meeting.

11:30 AM: Start work on the sales speech for Paul Gustavson and Stewart Liff’s forthcoming Team of Leaders, which advocates self-managed teams.  For my opening, I research Eastern State Penitentiary, which I recently toured, in order to compare its solitary confinement and panopticon design to the cubes and top-down management the book would vanquish.

12:30 PM: Lunch at Pongsri with agent Giles Anderson.

1:45 PM: Back to work on sales speech. I’m trying not to sound like Malcolm Gladwell, whose new book David and Goliath I just started listening to and which I’ll put down after chapter two because I find the “desirable difficulty” premise preposterous.

3:00 PM: Supposed to meet with Dave Summers, our podcast and webinar guru, but he has to reschedule.

3:40 PM: Finish draft of speech. I let it simmer until tomorrow, when I’ll revise it and present it to my colleagues for comment. Ultimately, I drop the prison example, however brilliant, because it makes the speech too long.

3:45 PM: Coffee: Sumatran.

3:50 PM: I discuss the contract mentioned above with my executive editor, then email the author.

4:15 PM: Dave comes by. Our podcast discussion morphs into one about the mutually-admired Guillermo del Toro. Dave recommends his new book, Cabinet of Curiosities, which I add to my Amazon wish list.

4:25 PM: Now I speak with my head of marketing about repositioning the book mentioned above.

4:30 PM: Brain break: I read TechDirt. I’m happy that my former author Rob Reid (while at Avon I did the paperback of his book about HBS Year One) has hit the NY Times list with his new novel Year Zero thanks to elastic pricing.

4:40 PM: Read the rest of the proposals for editorial meeting.

5:15 PM: Put on sneakers and bolt for train.

Want another glimpse behind the scenes at AMACOM? Read A Day In the Life of An Acquisitions Editor by Associate Acquisitions Editor William Helms.

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One response to “A Day in the Life of Another Acquisitions Editor

  1. Barry Richardson

    Now I know where the Kenya coffee went. They’ve been out of it since last week!

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