A Day In The Life of Jason
In this week’s installment of A Day in the Life we hear from Jason, another valuable and recent addition to our editorial team. A published author, editor, teacher and small-press owner, Jason brings to Epigram Books a wealth of literary experience.
The life of a book editor was always something very mysterious to me growing up and reading fiction, and then still later after becoming an author myself (you can find me online at JasonLundberg.net). What power those people must have, I thought, and what fun. They are the ones who determine what books get published, and they get to include their fundamental love of reading and books into their daily job.
After a month as one of Epigram Books’ newest editors, I can say that much of the mystery has fallen away, but the passion remains. I had editing and publishing experience as an anthologist prior to being hired—Scattered, Covered, Smothered (Two Cranes Press, 2004), A Field Guide to Surreal Botany (Two Cranes Press, 2008) and Fish Eats Lion: New Singaporean Speculative Fiction (Math Paper Press, 2012)—but acquiring and editing books as a house editor is a completely different animal.
Our fiction publishing line has thus far largely consisted of reprinting older works, of bringing them back into the public consciousness after years of being out of print, which is a noble endeavor; but our publisher, Edmund Wee, is also eager to release new and original titles, to show that Epigram Books is committed to championing the best new Singaporean writing in English. And that’s where I come in.
So far, I’ve mostly been working on titles that Epigram Books has already acquired, and shepherding them into shape for publication in 2013. I’m working with authors of both novels and short story collections of the literary variety, although I’m also very interested in speculative fiction as well (since that is my specialty), and hope to start bringing in more SF to our stable as well (submission guidelines are here).
One of the unexpected benefits of this job has been the projects that have come up because of an immediate need to be filled. This has resulted in me writing a children’s picture book about the pandas who have just arrived at the Singapore Zoo, and curating a biennial anthology series of best new Singaporean short stories. Both of these projects are stretching me as a writer and editor, and likely would not have happened if I were not in the right place at the right time.
I’m part-time at Epigram Books, meaning that I only work mornings. My days consist of emailing the authors with whom I’m working to ensure that everything is coming in on time and to our satisfaction, editing the text in Microsoft Word (thank goodness for change tracking), reading and assessing other manuscripts that have been sent in over the transom for quality and marketability, drawing up author contracts based on our standard template, applying for publication grants from the National Arts Council, and meeting with the rest of the editorial staff to discuss our production timelines.
In the afternoons, I’m free to work on freelance projects, and to get my own novel into decent shape (I finished writing it in August, and have just completed my own second editing pass; I hope to have it ready for first readers by end of October). It’s a situation that has worked very well for me so far, enabling some steady income but still giving me time to pursue my own creative passions. I’ll be appearing in my authorial capacity at the Singapore Writers Festival in November.
I have to give many thanks to Edmund Wee for recognising my potential as a book editor and bringing me aboard Epigram Books. It’s a relationship that I hope will continue for many years to come!