A Day In The Life of an Executive Editor at a University Press

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Name: Nicole Solano
Title:
Executive Editor
Company:
Rutgers University Press
Location: New Brunswick, NJ

Biography

Nicole initially double majored in English and Education at Fordham University and originally wanted to teach high school English. She had some really great English teachers growing up who played an important role in her life. But after two semesters, Nicole realizes that education was not the path for her. She did an internship at a small independent press in NYC and knew she had found her calling.

Her time at Fordham was great, but with hindsight, she wishes she had gone to a much less expensive public school. Nicole says publishing pays well enough once you have worked your way up, but the pay is low when you first start out. Her student loans were through the roof, so it was financially difficult for many years after graduating. You can most certainly work in publishing without attending more expensive private schools, and that’s what she would recommend to anyone considering a publishing career.

Nicole worked as an editorial assistant for a year and a half at Pearson Education, after a year-long internship at a small press.

From Pearson, she moved into a Development Editor role with Routledge. There, she moved her way up to Acquisitions Editor, Senior Acquisitions Editor, and then Publisher. She stayed there for 11 years.

As of January, she started working at Rutgers University Press. A colleague who worked with her at Routledge moved to Rutgers a few years ago, and reached out to her last fall about the open position at Rutgers and now, here she is!

Publishing is a fairly small world, so don’t burn bridges and getting the job at Rutgers is a testament to that fact! It helps to stay on good terms with colleagues and stay in touch on LinkedIn. Lots of people don’t actively post on LinkedIn but it helps to stay connected in a way that’s more professional than Facebook.

Job Description

As an Executive Editor, Nicole is responsible for the ongoing growth and development of the Rutgers University Press lists in film, media, communication and Latino/a studies. She commissions (or sign up contracts with new authors), select, and evaluate manuscripts and proposals to cultivate a rigorous list of books for scholars, students and professionals in various areas of study. These books are aimed to help shape critical issues, spark debate, and enrich teaching throughout the world! She is expected to sign roughly 30 new books per year.

Nicole works closely with other departments to manage projects from acquisition to publication, including collaborating with our production department and with sales and marketing to get the books in front of the right readers. She’s been working at the Rutgers University Press since January of 2018.

ADITL: Monday

Wake up at

Leave for work at

Commute:

Arrive to work at 9:00 AM

Work Environment:

The office environment in publishing tends to be more on the business casual side of the office culture spectrum. You can dress down a bit and be a little more creative with your attire since it’s a creative industry.

Typically, there’s an editorial director with one or more publishers beneath them—depending on the size of the company—who manage small teams of editors. Editors usually have editorial assistants to help them as well. Sometimes assistants work with a single editor, sometimes with several. Pearson was quite a large company with big editorial teams and Routledge was a little bit smaller than Pearson. However, the staff at Rutgers is much smaller than both companies she’s worked at with about 17 staff members.

9:30 AM

Since Nicole is always reaching out to new prospective authors—or being contacted by those who would like to publish with the press—she spends a good part of her day responding to and writing emails or on the phone. Typically, she starts off by going through her emails and answering any urgent queries from authors. Emails generally involve inquiries about not responding quickly enough to a proposal, books that have just been published but don’t get to the author on time, or small emergencies within other departments at the press.

Then, she will usually touch base with her editorial intern about what she’s working on, any hurdles that have come up, and any new assignments to delegate to her.

11:00 AM

Nicole will try to spend some time each day reading and responding to unsolicited proposals. If a proposal is strong and looks like a good fit for the press, she sends it out to external reviewers who are most often also professors. For proposals that don’t look like a good fit for the press, she carefully crafts rejection emails.

Even after many years as an editor, it can be not-so-pleasant having to write rejection emails. She strives to offer constructive feedback on how an author can improve their proposal and may suggest other presses that might be better suited to the subject matter.

1:00 PM

She then spends some time researching the subjects of academic interest in order to find new potential authors and topics. This includes reading many academic websites for professors and reading information on the websites of professional organizations for my subjects areas. Some examples are the Latino Studies Association and International Communication Association!

Sometimes, she also has phone calls with people working in these areas to ask them about the subject matter, what trends they see becoming more important and what scholars that they think are worth speaking to about book projects.

3:00 PM

Nicole and her colleagues also have many meetings at the press in order to keep all of the departments up to speed on necessary information. Once every two weeks, they meet so editors can present new proposals for books for which they would like to offer contracts. The board has to approve each one.

They also meet to discuss every book that goes into production so that marketing, sales, and production departments know what the book is about, who it’s for, and what is unique about the book.

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