Parragon Children’s Editors: Behind the Purple Door
(Huge thanks to Laura Baker from our children's team for letting us have an exclusive look into her day-to-day life at Parragon!)
My day starts, as I’m sure it does for most people, with the cheery jingle of my email application opening and the whoosh of new emails downloading. I read through them and deal with them as much as I can (flag, file or delete to keep my inbox and mind clear, as I learned in a useful course on email management many years ago!). Several of these emails are reminders of upcoming dates when material, such as book covers, is needed for sales, so I update my schedule, calendar and project list. Things are always changing, and we’re juggling dozens of book projects at a time, so just keeping on top of everything is a big part of the job!
Once I feel organized and on top of things, I’m ready to get down to business. Today starts with checking some proofs that have come in from the repro house (where a book is prepared for print once it’s left us) for a new picture book that I’ve been working on. I check for about the hundredth time that there are no typos, that all the text is in the right place and that all the copyright and branding information is correct, and I pass the proofs on to the designer to check that the colours are printing properly and everything looks as it should. The proofs pass our inspection, and the email with our approval is sent to the production controller. The book is now on its way to the printer, and I can’t wait to see it in print!
Next, I’m on to a couple of touch-and-feel books that haven’t yet gone into production. The text and illustrations are in place, so I print the pages out and send them in three different directions: to a proofreader to check the UK text, an Americanizer to show us any places where the text needs to change for the US audience and an educational consultant for a final check that all the words, pictures and concepts are suited to the age range.
Once the print-outs are in the post, it’s on to checking some board books that have come in from the printer. These are advance copies that we get before thousands of them get printed – so it’s a last-chance check! Luckily, all looks good. Huge sigh of relief!
It’s eleven o’clock, so I settle in with a cup of tea to read through some manuscripts that have come in from an author for a new series of four picture books. I know these books could be huge sellers, so I want to get the stories just right. I read through them several times, jotting down comments and suggestions. It’s important that the stories are sweet, emotive and exciting for both the child listening and the parent who will be reading them aloud – again and again and again! I brainstorm with the designers, to be sure that the stories will lend themselves well to illustrations. I ring the author, who is very responsive and comes up with some other exciting ideas too, so it’s back in his hands for the next draft.
After a busy morning, it’s off to the gym to work out and rejuvenate myself for a just-as-busy afternoon…
This afternoon I’m settling into a big project. For nearly the past year, one of the designers and I have been working on a 224-page craft book. We’ve come up with the book plan for what types of crafts would be included, we’ve chatted with two craft makers and had them create the crafts, we’ve done a photoshoot of the finished products, I’ve had an author write up the instructions and add some fun titles and introductions, we’ve had the book designed and illustrated where necessary, proofread, checked by the craft makers, checked by a consultant to ensure everything works and is right for the age group… Phew! This afternoon we’re inputting the comments from the proofreader, consultant and craft makers, and doing our own final check.
I get my head down and go chapter by chapter, stopping only a few times for emails and to discuss with a designer some art samples that have come in from an illustrator for a new picture book (a fun break!). By the end of the day, with a few butterflies fluttering in my stomach, the designer and I place print-outs of the full 224-page craft book on the senior commissioning editor’s desk, ready for her check and the sign-off of the Head of Children’s before this goes into production. Fingers crossed they like it!
Finally, a few final emails, and I’m off for the day, feeling good about a productive one and looking forward to the proofs and advances and manuscripts and art samples we might see tomorrow…