Follow in the footsteps of Fremantle Press’s Armelle Davies as she walks us through a day in the life of an editor
Editor Armelle Davies has been working at Fremantle Press for almost two years now. Here, she walks us through what her job entails on a day-to-day basis, and offers a behind-the-scenes look at working for a book publisher.
Since I live pretty close to the Fremantle Press office, I walk to work as much as I can. I’m lucky to live in such a beautiful place as Fremantle, which I love so much I hardly ever leave – something to which most Freo locals will admit.
The first thing I do when I get to work is to check my emails and find out if there’s anything that requires my immediate attention. Then I look through my diary, journal and what I call my project hubs to see where I’m at with each book. As an editor, I often have lots of projects underway at one time, so I need many organisational tools to keep track of everything. I review these to see what needs to be chased up, such as cover concepts from a designer, extra materials from an author or proof pages from a proofreader.
On a typical day I’ll often be copyediting, which involves going through a piece of writing – either a manuscript or copy for our website or blog – line by line to check facts; correct errors in spelling, grammar and punctuation; and to apply our house style for consistency. While I’m doing that I’ll also record style decisions – things like variable spellings, numbers, italics and anything that departs from the house style – in a style sheet to ensure consistency.
The Fremantle Press office is housed in the heritage-listed Dux building, which used to be a bottling plant for a cordial manufacturer and, more recently, a luthier’s workshop. While there are some downsides to working in an old building, there are definitely some perks, one of which is the balcony just outside my office. I keep the door open to let in the sunshine, breeze and bird sounds (and sometimes bees). I try to go outside on my lunch breaks, basking in the Perth sunshine either on the balcony or in one of the many local cafes reading a book.
One of the things I love most about this job is the variety, both in terms of the content I’m working with and the types of tasks I do. While my favourite thing is to work with language and really get stuck into structural editing or copyediting for a novel, every book has its own unique challenges and requirements, especially when it comes to non-fiction and illustrated books.
I love figuring out ways to make complex information more easily navigable and comprehensible by designers, authors, other editors or general readers. That might sound a bit vague, but in reality it means doing things like organising information about image permissions (source, cost, copyright holder, required captions etc.), figuring out a logical sequence of images in a photography book, or meticulously chronicling the timeline of events in a novel to make sure it’s consistent.
I need to keep an open mind because on any day I could be doing something that requires a new skillset. Recently I’ve been reading through some of Fremantle Press’s previously published books to look for beautiful writing about beaches to accompany artworks in Brian Simmonds’s forthcoming book, The Beach.
Like many people, I often feel a bit of an energy slump in the afternoon, but luckily the Fremantle Press office is usually well supplied with homemade cakes and biscuits, and the upstairs editorial department also harbours a secret stash of chocolate that is kept well stocked.
Cooking is one of my passions, so after my walk home, I’ll typically cook something for dinner, and of course catch up on my overflowing TBR pile.
An important part of being an editor is to have a good general knowledge so you have a good gut instinct for when something is not right in a manuscript, so I try to experience culture as widely and as frequently as I can. To that end, I’m often out on weeknights quizzing with my quiz team, watching movies, going to plays or playing Dungeons and Dragons with my friends.