It’s 2016! So let’s get back into the swing of things. For our first Day in the Life of the year, Kerry McShane, recent graduate of the University of Stirling’s MLitt Publishing course (2014-15), takes us through her work as an associate editor at US publisher, Gibbs Smith.
Welcome to Utah, or as some call it, a “blooming desert.”
After completing the MLitt in Publishing Studies at Stirling Uni, I was offered a position back home in the US at Gibbs Smith, a trade non-fiction and educational publisher in Layton, Utah.
As an associate editor, I edit books I have acquired and those that are assigned to me, and I shepherd them through the entire editorial and production process. You’re wondering how that’s different from a regular editor. Honestly, the difference is that I have a lot left to learn. As an associate editor, the other editors can mentor me on my own projects, and I can act as a secondary editor for theirs. I focus mainly on cookbooks, but I have worked on many other things, from cowboy humour, to collections of Halloween and Thanksgiving literature, to toddler board books, and even interior design.
Most of my days are filled with copyediting (we do most of ours in-house), proofreading, checking printer proofs, writing tip sheets (also known as AI sheets), emailing authors, researching new book concepts, writing design briefs, coordinating with photographers, and petting cats. Yes, you read that right. We have seven office cats and a few more that spend their time outdoors.
For more of our cats, you can check out #catsofgibbssmith on Instagram. We also have sheep (and a lot of snow in the winter). And chickens.
Did I mention that I work in a barn? In the company’s early days, the barn housed cows on the ground floor and staff in the loft. Today, though, we are a bovine-free workplace.
All of the trade editorial staff are housed in the converted barn, while the education staff, customer service, and all the other employees who make up Gibbs Smith are housed one town over in the offices at the distribution center; we even have our own warehouse.
While my surroundings are picturesque, the people I work with are what really make my day. In fact, my favorite day of the week is Thursday, when the entire editorial staff comes together for a creative meeting to brainstorm new ideas and fine-tune our works-in-progress. At these meetings, the ideas and input from editorial assistants are just as valued as those from our CCO (chief creative officer) and publisher. This openness among colleagues permeates nearly every task I do at Gibbs Smith. I may ask another editor for a second opinion on a cover, and someone else may ask me to come up with a book title. We all work together, and that makes work feel a lot less like, well, work!