A Day in the Life of Sheri August 03 2012

In this week’s A Day in the Life, we hear from Sheri, one of our newest editors. Sheri brings to Epigram Books years of children’s book editing experience garnered from her time with the publishing powerhouse in the US, Simon & Schuster.

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Okay, so I’ve been at Epigram Books since April, just long enough to learn a couple of important things:

I need to wear my fleece jacket at all times. The blast of arctic air from the air-conditioner hits my desk (and my face) at just the right angle. An Eskimo would be so happy. I’ve moved my monitor around to shield the blast as much as possible, and it helps...somewhat. Now I just need to get one of those fingerless gloves so I can still type.

Lunchtime is taken very seriously. Everybody goes out to lunch! Having worked in publishing in New York for a while, I’m more used to the culture of bringing your own lunch—leftovers, sandwiches, whatever you find that’s edible in your fridge—as buying lunch would cost at least US$10, and that can get kind of expensive if you eat out everyday. So at lunchtime in NY, there’s always a long line for the microwave. When I first started here, I’d bring my leftovers . . . and there would be no line for the microwave (I was so pleased, I thought I had gotten to it ahead of everyone!). In fact, I found out that NO ONE uses the microwave. No wonder it looks brand-new.

Anyway, this is what my day at Epigram Books looks like:

9am Walk through the glass doors; turn on computer; put on fleece jacket, make myself a cup of hot tea (it helps stave off the cold).

9:05 Go through e-mails; respond to authors asking for a more time to finish their manuscripts, authors with questions on their contracts, potential authors asking what I think of their ideas.

9:45 One of the series of children’s books that I’m handling includes picture books that were published by foreign publishers in France, Korea, Spain, and Italy. We will be translating the text and publishing the books in English for Singapore. So I make sure that the contracts with the publishers are in order, contact the translators and give them deadlines, work with the designer to get the covers for our edition ready for publicity purposes.

10:30 Another series of picture books I’m working on is written by prominent local personalities. They are tasked to retell fairy tales with a Singapore flavour. Some of the authors are new to the picture book genre, and need a bit of guidance to craft and flesh out satisfying stories.

10:45 Edmund (the head honcho) prods my back to ask about the status of one of my projects. Should we cancel it? he asks. I tell him no, the author just needs more time. And then there’s further discussion about salvaging other projects that seem to be falling by the wayside.

11:30 Ah, I can get back to actual work.

12 noon LUNCHTIME!! The office gets a little noisy now as papers are pushed aside and people discuss where to go, what to eat. Yes, I no longer bring anything to microwave. What’s the point, when a hot, tasty meal is available for SGD$3? Oh yeah, I also want to enjoy the company of my colleagues.

1 p.m. Figure out the publishing plan for other authors and picture books on my list. Some involve republishing out-of-print titles, all of them require illustrators. I review illustrator portfolios and put on my “matchmaker” hat. When the right illustrator is paired with the right manuscript, it is a match made in heaven.

2 p.m. Quitting time for me at Epigram Books. Now it’s on to my other job as mum to two active young boys. I turn off the computer, take off my fleece jacket, and open the glass doors, happy to step out into the very warm sunshine.