Now then: a couple of you asked, among other things, about what I and my bosses actually do all day. Come with me then, gentle readers, on a magical journey...
MAJOR TRADE PUBLISHER — TYPICAL MORNING
Enter INTREPID SALES ASSISTANT at 9:00 AM sharp. He turns on his computer and begins downloading, formatting, and e-mailing information on electronic orders that came in from ACCOUNT overnight.
Enter BOSS #1.
BOSS #1: "'Morning, INTREPID ASSISTANT. Did you print out IMPORTANT EXCEL REPORT for me?"
INTREPID ASSISTANT: "Yes. I highlighted your titles and left it on your desk. I also left you sales kits I made for IMPORTANT DROP-IN TITLES."
BOSS #1 thanks INTREPID ASSISTANT and locks himself in his office for the rest of the morning. Several titles have DROPPED IN (i.e. been added to the list with little or no notice) and must be sold to ACCOUNT over the phone, as BOSS #1 already sold in that month/span the last time he went to visit ACCOUNT.
Enter BOSS #2.
BOSS #2: "Good morning, INTREPID ASSISTANT. Before I forget, could you upload XYZ TITLE to ACCOUNT? I was asking them about it yesterday and they don't have it listed in their system."
INTREPID ASSISTANT: "Sure thing."
INTREPID ASSISTANT busies himself for the next two hours with relaying information on electronic orders, placing orders that came in non-automatically from ACCOUNT, formatting and distributing daily/weekly sales information from ACCOUNT, and uploading missing titles to ACCOUNT's system so they can be properly sold in.
10:00 AM: INTREPID ASSISTANT e-mails daily sales information to various folks in-house.
10:01 AM: INTREPID ASSISTANT receives 1,042 responses, which comprise of out-of-office messages, requests to be removed from the e-mail distro, and requests for confirmation that these sales numbers are, in fact, correct, as they appear either far too low, far too high, or, somehow, both.
BOSS #1 (opening door a crack): "INTREPID ASSISTANT, could you please go over to ACCOUNT's local store and let me know what the CO-OP looks like?"
INTREPID ASSISTANT: "Sure. Can I do it after lunch?"
BOSS #1: "Yes. Also, I just e-mailed you the report on XYZ MONTH's SELL-IN. Could you update all those estimates in FANCY COMPUTER SYSTEM?"
INTREPID ASSISTANT: "Yup!"
INTREPID ASSISTANT spends the last half-hour before lunch (12:00 sharp—INTREPID ASSISTANT likes to eat ASAP) entering BOSS #1's estimates into FANCY COMPUTER SYSTEM.
MAJOR TRADE PUBLISHER AND SURROUNDING NYC AREA — TYPICAL AFTERNOON
INTREPID ASSISTANT does one of the following for lunch:
1. Eats in the ever-pricier but nonetheless pretty good company cafeteria;
2. Acquires a sandwich/hot dog/&c from an inexpensive local restaurant/vendor;
3. Works through it because PUBLISHING IS A HAPPENIN' PLACE
After lunch, INTREPID ASSISTANT goes to ACCOUNT's closest store and examines the CO-OP.
INTREPID ASSISTANT: "Hark, kind sir! Where is ABC TITLE that is supposed to have FRONT OF STORE CO-OP?"
HELPFUL STORE CLERK: "I don't think that's how you use 'hark.' And it's right here."
INTREPID ASSISTANT: "Thank you for your assistance! And what about HIJ TITLE?"
HELPFUL STORE CLERK: "...I actually don't see that one here. We'll get it out right away!"
INTREPID ASSISTANT: "Most excellent!"
Having recorded (and possibly helped correct) the CO-OP, INTREPID ASSISTANT returns to the office around 1:30 PM. He spends the next hour or so going over CO-OP contracts for previous months, entering them in FANCY COMPUTER SYSTEM, and, when necessary, untangling any mysterious financial errors in said contracts. It should be noted that INTREPID ASSISTANT has been answering dozens of e-mails all the while (they start around 8:15 AM and end around 7:00 PM).
RANDOM CO-WORKER: "INTREPID ASSISTANT, the printer is jammed!"
INTREPID ASSISTANT: "'Zounds! I'll repair it post-haste!"
RANDOM CO-WORKER: "Also, the copier!"
INTREPID ASSISTANT: "Great Caesar's ghost!"
BOSS #2 (emerging from office): "INTREPID ASSISTANT, could you please mail these 842 galleys and ARCs to the appropriate buyers at ACCOUNT? Also, could you print out X, Y, and Z covers and send those, too? We didn't have them for sell-in last month."
INTREPID ASSISTANT: "Most assuredly!"
BOSS #2 returns to office to continue endless call with BUYER at ACCOUNT who agreed to certain BUY and CO-OP but is now changing his/her mind about it. Meanwhile, BOSS #1 is on the phone with IMPORTANT IN-HOUSE PUBLISHER to explain why some of his titles got different buys than previously anticipated at ACCOUNT.
2:30 PM – 3:00 PM: INTREPID ASSISTANT takes periodic breaks to read industry blogs. Hilarity occasionally ensues. Whenever IMPORTANT COWORKERS walk by, INTREPID ASSISTANT pretends to have been studying IMPORTANT-LOOKING EXCEL GRID the entire time. He is not generally successful. But industry blogs, people! Publishing research is publishing research!
3:00 PM – 4:00 PM: IMPORTANT MEETING at which INTREPID ASSISTANT records minutes. This is pretty much the only IMPORTANT MEETING that INTREPID ASSISTANT is required to attend. BOSSES #1 and #2 are required to attend several such meetings every day. IMPORTANT MEETING chiefly concerned with monthly sales figures, year-to-date sales figures, important titles about to go on sale, anything newsworthy going on at ACCOUNTS, &c.
INTREPID ASSISTANT spends the last hour of the day replying to e-mails, both in-house and from ACCOUNT, following up on random requests from BOSSES/ACCOUNT/various people, and tying up any loose ends so he will not have to deal with additional panic/doom when he returns to the office the following morning.
NYC AREA — TYPICAL EVENING
INTREPID ASSISTANT leaves work at 5:00 PM (if he can afford to—he sometimes works as late as 7:00 and has been known to work as late as 10:00) and heads directly to LOCAL BAR, often with other ASSISTANTS, where he imbibes
1.) Four beers or
2.) Two martinis or
3.) One pitcher of beer
But never 4.) all of the above unless it is 5.) Friday. He leaves LOCAL BAR by 7:00 (again, unless it is Friday).
INTREPID ASSISTANT'S APARTMENT — TYPICAL EVENING/NIGHT
INTREPID ASSISTANT, now garbed in white t-shirt and superhero pajama pants instead of collared shirt and dress pants, sits at his laptop, e-penning another post for his blog while eating SLIGHTLY UNDERCOOKED PASTA with perhaps SOME KIND OF CHICKEN. He generally goes to bed by 11:00 in order to be well-rested enough to begin the cycle anew the following day.