Our very own Natasha Hughes, Editorial Assistant for Estates
So, I’m going to try and make this as cool as I can, and lay off the narcissism as much as possible when talking about oneself. I have worked at HarperCollins for nearly two years, as part of the Estates team in Harper Fiction, which involves working on Agatha Christie, J.R.R. Tolkien, Ngaio Marsh, Alistair MacLean, Simon Tolkien and many others. My job mainly involves reinvigorating classic titles for a modern audience, working on new authors (such as Simon Tolkien), and creating illustrated film tie-in books around the forthcoming Hobbit movie trilogy.
A brief run through of how I got here: After studying English Literature and Philosophy at Keele University I undertook a Masters degree In English Lit at Warwick. Whilst doing my MA, I found work experience at a small publishing house in nearby Leamington Spa, before going on to Quercus, MacLehose Press, Penguin and then HC!
But enough of that, let’s get down to the real day in the life of! When my two alarms go off at 7:30 and 7:35, I press snooze for as long as I can before they drive me insane (usually half an hour or so). The office dress code doesn’t require that we wear clothes that are particularly formal, so I look for something smart-casual, unless we have an author meeting/work event that day, then I opt for the smart approach.
I don’t have breakfast as it makes me queasy. Instead I wait until I’m at work, have started up the computer and opened outlook, then I go down to the lovely HC café for a skinny latte. Once the latte
is in hand, I’m ready to work through the numerous emails that have arrived overnight. Whether the emails are from internal or external senders, most of them usually involve permission requests around Hobbit film marketing materials, or queries about book or epub content for the film tie-ins. As we get nearer to the release date of the first film, requests for marketing materials are coming fast and furious, and nearly all of them require a quick turnaround.
After I have worked through the most urgent requests, I set aside time to focus on editorial duties. This week, the main priority has been working on The Visual Companion and The Official Movie Guide ebooks, which we are releasing in November. This entails proofreading them, making any corrections, and checking that the functionality is as intuitive for the reader as possible.
At 1pm I head down to the café for some soup or a J.P. (jacket potato). I am a creature of habit, and will sometimes have the same lunch pretty much every day. If it’s a particularly hectic day, I will
eat at my desk, but I always try to have a break if I can, as I don’t think it’s good to sit in the same place all day!
Depending on the day of the week, there can be anywhere between 2 and 5 meetings per day, which can be divisional or team-based. The largest meetings are usually editorial (every Monday) and cover art (Tuesday mornings), both of which everyone attends. Most assistants will work late, and in such a busy period as this is the working day can end as late as 9pm.
It’s great to get to work with such amazing and creative people, on books that I am really passionate about. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my day!