A week in the life of a Harlequin Editor
by Flo Nicoll, Editorial Assistant for Mills & Boon
Monday 14th June
Mss read – 1; calorific treats – 1; letters written – 1, caffeine units – 3
It’s another Monday morning at Romance HQ, and it begins like any other – cups of tea all round and a bit of a gossip. From manuscripts to TV shows to celebrity scandal (a recent Richmond spotting of Kate Middleton by one lucky editor had us all out on the street before you could say ‘royal wedding’), the Acquisition department excels at having strongly worded opinions about the stuff that matters! But World Cup fever has introduced an unexpected harmony – David Beckham has unanimously been voted our favourite player of all time, and given the amount of time we spend reading about Alpha males, we do consider ourselves expert judges…
But beyond the World Cup, it’s also…conference season! Everyone is busy busy busy as the countdown starts to this year’s RWA. With 9 fabulous authors nominated – our best total yet! – morale is super-high: all our authors’ hard work has paid off! As the day continues, thanks to temperamental (non-existent?) air-con, the in-office temperature is also through the roof. Cue good-natured envy of the three lucky eds attending who are soon jetting out to the balmy Florida sunshine…sigh…
Tuesday 15th June
Mss read – 1 ¾ ; calorific treats – 2; letters – 0; caffeine units – 0 (trying to wean myself off the habit with herbal teas)
Our quarterly video conferences with the New York and Toronto offices are a great chance to catch up on new innovations and to help celebrate any Harlequin-wide successes – although the sight of ourselves on video is an endlessly depressing experience! Fingers crossed no-one saw me discreetly eating my Twirl in the back-row…
Today, it’s the UK’s turn to take the floor, with an exciting presentation about the new UK-specific cover direction. The covers look incredible and the whole UK office is buzzing about them, particularly our entirely new series Riva. The sparkling books that our talented authors write means that Mills & Boon is at the forefront of women’s fiction, and we can’t wait to see how many new readers our new look attracts! So, watch this space…they’ll be coming to a bookstore near you soon!
Wednesday 16th June
Mss read – 1 2/3; calorific treats – uncountable; letters written – 1; caffeine units – 2 (herbal tea just didn’t cut it)
Somehow manage to cram in all my reading before an author comes for lunch – the only benefit of my long commute to work! Any summer-bikini-body diet plans are temporarily suspended – the chance to enjoy an author’s company over a three course meal and bottle of wine in a delicious Richmond restaurant is simply too irresistible! What’s more, the author-editor relationship can get pretty close – and in this email-centric world, nothing else quite captures the pleasure of spending time with our authors face-to-face. It’s a great chance to discuss career development, writing plans and anything else that springs to mind – this time, the endlessly fascinating Team Jacob vs. Team Edward debate takes us straight through to dessert.
Thurs 17th June
Mss read – 1; calorific treats 1; letters written – 1.5; caffeine units – 3
After another busy day in the office, psyching myself up for an evening library talk. As a department, we’re often asked to speak to libraries/ writing classes etc – and I’m not going to lie, it can be pretty nerve-wracking, especially when there’s a big turnout! But it’s amazing to witness the nationwide passion and respect for our books that’s out there. Suddenly feels more like being in a book group with my friends than a work event, and I realise there’s nothing I’d rather do than help spread the Mills & Boon love! (Highlight of the evening – a reader mentioned one of her favourite books, and turned out I’d worked on it and also thought it was fab …it’s always nice to have your own opinion validated, especially about something as subjective as what makes a particular hero drop-dead-gorgeous…!)
Fri 18th June
Mss read – ½; calorific treats – too many to count (colleague’s birthday – flurry of departmental baking ensures); letters written – 3; caffeine units – 3
After a non-stop week, Friday’s here before I know it, and it’s utterly hectic! Most exciting event of the day? Without a doubt, getting to ring an aspiring author and tell her we want to buy her book – nothing is more guaranteed to help end the week on a high! Buying a new author has to be one of the most rewarding parts of the job – in fact, it’s often hard to tell who’s more excited – the author or the editor! Being able to welcome someone new into the Mills & Boon family, especially having accompanied them on their journey from partial submission to publishable manuscript, is an immense privilege, and leaves me with an adrenaline high that keeps me going through last-minute meetings and some frantic tying up of loose ends before the weekend. Finally, it’s time to shut down the computers, take off our security tags and make the most of our Friday summer hours! Trip to the pub, anyone?!