Friday, April 13, 2007

Guest Post: Johanna Raisanen

Greetings to all our HAR authors and fans! Thanks for inviting me to the party. I was asked to write about what it’s like being an HAR editor. Well, I’m not sure what I do in a day could accurately convey what goes on, so I thought I’d give you a snapshot of a week.


Arrive at work for 8 am, which usually means running in the door at 8:10. Curse Monday mornings. Boot up computer and change outgoing voice mail message. Head to the kitchen to make a cup of tea and pour some milk on my cereal, then eat breakfast while checking emails.

Finish revision letter I’d started last week and email to the author. Pull out manuscript I read on Sunday and start new revision letter. Going through the manuscript page by page I make notes and suggestions. Cajole fellow editor Wanda Ottewell to go out for lunch with me. Back in the office, I meet with Kathleen, HAR senior editor, about scheduling issues, book titles and upcoming deadlines for RWA registration. Email final version of the revision letter to the author. Finally head home around 5 pm.


Spend some time chatting with coworkers about last night’s episode of Dancing with the Stars over a cup of tea. Read over and approve art fact sheets and respond to emails before an art meeting at 11 am. Kathleen and I head up to the 8th floor to meet with the HAR art director and marketing product manager. It’s up to us editors to tell the rest of the team what each book is about, give scene suggestions and pass along the author’s input. The art director takes our ideas and works up sketches for approval later in the process.

Spend lunch hour eating at my desk and inputting Dear Reader letter, dedication and author bio into our prelim template (prelims include back cover copy and all the front pages before the book). Look over copy submitted by freelance copy writers and finish up the prelim package and email it to Kathleen.

At 2 pm attend a brainstorming meeting to help come up with new ideas for limited continuities. Then call a west-coast author on her lunch hour to answer questions she had about her revision notes.


Work-at-home day. Since it’s almost impossible to actually edit in the office, most editors take at least one and sometimes two days to work on line edits or reads at home. I also work on some other series (as most editors do) and will start my Superromance line edit at 8 am. Lunch break consists of taking my dog for a walk in the park, giving me an opportunity to get some fresh air, too! Quit editing for the day around 6.


Finish line edit at home. (330 pages in 2 days. Whew.)


Check in with Kathleen to see if there’s anything I need to know after being out of the office for two days. Head to the 8th floor where the good photocopier is and make three copies of the finished line edit. One copy for me, one for the author and one for the freelance copy writer. Kick the photocopier a couple of times to try to fix a paper jam. Finish photocopying on the 6th floor. Hand the line edit in to production and breathe a sigh of relief that I’m on time.

Back in my office, I tackle the slush pile. I read and evaluate manuscripts from unpublished authors and write correspondence. If the manuscript is turned down, I write a rejection letter. But if I find a true gem, I write a report for Kathleen giving reasons to buy the book. At the end of the day, I get an email saying there’s cake in the common area! Yippee!

So that’s a typical week for an editor. Meetings, edits, revision letters, art briefs and a whole lot more. And some fun along the way. I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else!



Anonymous said...


Thanks for taking the time to share that behind-the-scenes look...and thanks for all that you and the other editors do!

Laura Marie Altom said...

Poor, Johanna!! Hugs!! Your week sounded exhausting--except for that happy part about cake in the common area!!

Thanks so much for sharing with us!!

Trish Milburn said...

Interesting look behind the scenes, Johanna. Thanks. I do have to say that your kicking encounter with the photocopier made me think of the movie Office Space, which cracks me up every time I see it.

Lindsey Brookes said...

Your week wore me out just reading about it. Thanks for sharing. It was really interesting to read about what goes on behind the scenes. And thanks for the heads up on what American is looking for.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the sympathies! It's a good thing I like keeping busy, eh? :)

And Trish, I *love* Office Space, too! The part where the main character takes apart his cubicle has me in stitches every time!


Trish Milburn said...

LOL. That was a funny scene. Perhaps my favorite is where the one guy gets the error message on the copier, and he's like, "PC Load Letter. What does that mean?" I've SO been there. :)

Ann Roth said...

This was most enlightening! I suspected that editors worked hard... and now I know.

Thanks for sharing.

Barbara White Daille said...

Thanks for sharing the snapshot sample, Johanna. Just reading it was enough to exhaust me! But the mention of cake in the common room perked me right up again.