How a Managing Editor Keeps it All Organized

Originally sent to the Listener Insider Mailing List on July 7, 2016.
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Answers for Authors

Vance, how the hell does a Managing Editor keep all the little ducks in a row?

I took this one to my Managing Editor Diane, who has experience at both a large and a small press. Here’s what she had to say:

“WHAT? Are you TRYING to hurt my head? Okay… here goes…

  1. Knowledge of all of the processes.
  2. Checklists for each component. For example, we have a checklist of things to look for when going over printer’s proofs, a checklist of actions for distribution, etc.
  3. Keep the current season’s books first in your head, then the season after that, then the season after that. Based on this, set the day’s priority task.
  4. You must possess a deep-seated love of classifying and organizing.

As for tools:

  • The checklists are quickly-updateable Word docs on our shared drive.
    MS Word is still the version control workhorse as far as manuscript edits are concerned, but once a book is typeset we work in Acrobat using the Comment feature.
  • As for managing a book’s life, we build each title as a standalone project in MS Project, and use that to track the dates for each micro-task under acquisitions, editing, production, and distribution… with a healthy dose of marketing tasks throughout.”

Thanks Diane!!!

(If there’s interest in me giving an MS Project How-to tutorial video with book production as the specific focus – let me know!)

Until then… WRITE ON!


If YOU have a question you want answered from inside the biz, send it my way and I’ll pose it to the professionals!