Saturday, March 5, 2011

Guest Blogger: Lisa Daisy Hamid on Cats, Caffeine and Other Secrets of the Editor's World

Hey Folks,

I'm pleased to have one of the editors who worked on my new book contribute a guest blog post.  Lisa Daisy Hamid knocked my socks off with her work on Dead Light District.  She caught little snafus that I totally missed, plus she was fast and thorough and just an all-around cool chick.  We spent an afternoon going over the manuscript and I must say she has a sharp eye and a great sense of humour... which you'll see in her post below. 

Now here's Lisa...

Greetings, dear readers!

I'm Lisa, one of the editors of Jill Edmondson's new novel, Dead Light District. Jill asked if I'd like to spout off a few words about my experiences in this industry. Of course, I obliged. Working on her book was a great opportunity that I continue to be thankful for.

I'm a newbie to this business, and the two years I've spent in this industry have taught me some valuable lessons. I've been through a Publishing certificate from Ryerson University, a publicity/marketing internship at Tundra Books (McClelland & Stewart) and an editorial internship at Colborne Communications.

Here, I list my top ten lessons from the life of an intern.

1. Editors live long, long lives.

There is a running joke amongst publishing hopefuls about the super-vitality and seemingly never-ending existence of in-house editors. It's a joke because if publishing students didn't laugh about it, we'd sink into depression instead. Only the very lucky get to follow their grammatically-correct dreams of becoming an editor at Random House, HarperCollins, Penguin, and other bigwigs. Editorial positions usually only open up when long-standing editors vaporize, grudgingly retire, or die. Would-be editors keep an eye on potential editorial positions like gold-digging wives keep an expectant eye on their aging husbands' dwindling health and growing wealth.

2. Drinks all around.

The publishing industry includes lots of hard work and even more hard drinking. Many professors (who shall not be named) prefer to hold their classes or meetings at The Imperial. Some publishers engage in the ritual of Champagne Mondays. Most book launch parties are held at pubs or clubs. Frankfurt festival is debauchery at its finest. Of course, I'm not complaining; I'm just pleasantly surprised.

3. Writers can be glorious wing-nuts.

I've interacted with a variety of writers throughout my internships. Some of these interactions (save my collaboration with Jill, who is profoundly awesome) left me wholly terrified or completely amused. Thankfully, I was on the outskirts of most of these altercations.

There was the semi-famous tv personality who couldn't meet with us for months, only to show up unexpectedly and freak out about their book cover; the writer who kept submitting different parts of the same book every time they got rejected; the author who spammed a co-worker with daily "funny" pictures of her pets; the clients who submitted work to be evaluated and then disappeared - the list goes on. At the same time, I've been rendered star-struck many times and continue to be in awe of the quirkiness, generosity and ingenuity of the writers I've met.

4. Double spaces, em dashes and small caps. Glamorous.

Writers hold an identity in culture as starving artists - genius minds working through the night, smoking like a chimney and crying absinthe-flavoured tears onto a typewriter. They live off bread and possibly squirrels. The same goes for editors, except we're honestly just hobos. No romance here; no transient artistry - just low wages, a style guide and Cheetos. And yet, we love it.

I'm proud to say I edit things, but when it comes down to the nitty-gritty, it's all about those details that go unnoticed in a finished product. These editorial details are the things that really bring a product together. Editors are supposed to deal with things that no one else will pay attention to. It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it.

5. Editors aren't perfect.

I kind of suspected this, but I've seen proof. Even the editor's name can get misspelled in a book's credits. How does this happen? The editor was probably too fixated on the consistency of serial comma use.

6. Reading will never be the same.

Publishing industry people and publishing students alike long for the days when they were simply a reader. Designers, typesetters, editors, sales people - all of them now experience books in a completely different way. This is wonderful and terrifying. It's completely impossible for me to read a novel now without inadvertently proofreading it instead.

7. Likewise, my sense of humour will never be the same.

Editing/publishing humour is on the same level of specificity and awkwardness as physics or engineering jokes. For example, editors fall into hysterics discussing the chiller font. It's a damn font.

I'd like to share The blog breaks down the grammar of the Twilight series paragraph by paragraph. Sentence maps are never supposed to be funny and yet I definitely laughed at some of these.

We also find things like totally hilarious.

8. Publishing is actually a cult.

This is a quick one because we disciples aren't really supposed to talk about it. I've had multiple industry people tell me to "get out while I still can". I've yet to find out what this means.

9. Editors worship cats and caffeine.

Editors are 50% caffeine and 50% cat lady. I haven't encountered an editor who doesn't need coffee and meows to properly function. If we could somehow combine the two into a coffee-making cat-shaped robot (with a roll up the rim), we would be complete.

10. When it's all said and done, Canada's publishing community is a beautiful thing.

All of the ranting and jokes aside, the publishing world is truly inspiring. Toronto is a hub for innovative, entertaining and unique voices in writing, design and book culture. There are book launches and poetry readings to be found almost weekly. There are book festivals to match every season. It's a veritable pow-wow of creativity and love of the written word.

Thanks for reading. Now, get a copy of Dead Light District into your hands!


You can follow me on twitter @lo_haze and on my blog

Note from Jill:  Check out her blog; Lisa has a bit of everything on there and it's all pretty cool!

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