Random House Children’s Books

Here’s the semi-detailed account of my week of Work Experience at Random House Children’s Books UK in the Editorial Department.

Every day I woke up at about 6:20am and got into the shower. Then I got dressed, had breakfast, and left by 7:15am. 25 minutes to walk to the train station and get the 07:52 train to King’s Cross. 20 minutes on the train, then once in King’s Cross battle with the crowds to get into the Underground. 10 minutes on the Victoria line (more like 15 with the morning rush) to get to Oxford Circus. Switch to the Central Line and catch a train to Ealing Broadway. It had to be to Ealing Broadway as that is the end of one line, and a few stops before the tracks split. 35 minutes on the tube to Ealing Broadway. It’s about 9:10am by the time I get to Ealing; 10 minute walk to RH, and I’m there for 9:30am as requested. Lather, rinse, and repeat at 5:30pm; I get home about 7:30pm.

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The building! (Actually the Children’s Books was beside it at 57 – 59, but I didn’t know that until I walked into the reception at 61 – 63)

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Transworld is an imprint of Random House Group. This means different “brands” under the main title.

Monday

  • Read through “slushpile” manuscripts. These are unsolicited submissions, and as RH acquires most of their new titles through literary agents, I wrote rejection letters to most of them.
  • Wrote rejection letters. This was difficult at first, although there is a template to just fill in, it still felt bad knowing that they put so much work into their submissions.
  • Mailed manuscripts back to senders. (The mail-room guy that comes every couple hours to collect the mail is cute!)

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The view from my “Work Experience” desk.

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More view. Lots of posters and books. This is the main cubicle area, there are private offices off to the side and then there is a little meeting area / book nook near the back.

Tuesday

  • Opened fan mail addressed to RHCB authors. I also glanced over the mail to assure it was appropriate.
  • Accessed the online internal listing of Authors and redirected their mail.
  • Attended a meeting between the Editors and the Sales department
  • Read the latest book in a series called “Lady Grace”. I then proposed the text for the back cover.
  • Worked on Print On Demand (POD) titles in the online internal book listings. I worked on the “Title Information Sheets”. These TI Sheets include book summary, author bio, reviews and praise for the book, ISBN number, and a variety of other important information.

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I asked if they had these mugs for sale and one of the editors said that they had tons downstairs and she would just get me one.

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They gave me a pile of books by some of their authors if I was interested in reading a few. I started a couple – The Spook’s Apprentice (The Last Apprentice in North America) is really good!

Wednesday

  • Updated POD Titles in the online internal book listings. Print on Demand titles are books that are not popular enough to issue an entire reprinting. However, if someone wants to buy this title, then they can order a copy and one will be printed and shipped to them.
  • Looked over a manuscript that had come back from the design department. They do the “layout” of the book, and then an editor will be doing copyediting (those last little bits). So I needed to sit with both side by side and make sure that all the changes noted by the editor had been made by the designer.
  • Read a book sent by Scholastic Inc. in the USA. They were inquiring if RHCB wanted to buy the UK Publishing rights. I read the book, wrote a blurb about the plot, story, and my general opinions/likes/dislikes.

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The “slushpile” from Monday

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The church in Ealing.

Thursday

  • Attended an Editorial Meeting which updated everyone on new titles, reversions, and any current/ongoing business.
  • Added Gender fields to the TI Sheets of books specifically directed at boys or girls. (For example, a children’s book about Ballerinas is going to listed as “female”, while something by Philip Pullman will be “both”, and something about Dinosaurs will most likely be “male”.)
  • I got to visit the Post Room and the Supply Room! I love this room—full of envelopes and pens and paper! It’s an organizational-maniac’s dream. Hehe, I also got to peek into the “Charity Cupboard” which are books that are surplus and sometimes Not-For-Profit Organizations write in asking for donations. I was allowed to select a book, and I choose Pay it Forward by Catherine Ryan Hyde.

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Town Hall in Ealing

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The walk to RH in Ealing (looking back).

Friday

  • Added Gender fields to RHCB Titles on the online (internal) book listings
  • Had a meeting with one of the Head Editors of the Children’s Editorial Department to discuss book publishing. It was sort of a mix between a job interview (talking about me, what I’ve done before, what I’m interested in), and asking questions about book publishing & RH (what is the process a manuscript goes through, what involvement does the author have, how many editors work on a manuscript).
  • Opened unsolicited manuscripts for Children’s picture books and read them. I then made notes as to the quality and subject matter of the submission. I didn’t have time to write the rejection letters or follow-up (as there were a lot of good illustrators).
  • Suggested titles for a UK publication of a US book
  • Suggested cover picture as well
  • Anglicized words in the US book for UK youth. Words such as “sneakers” and “backpack” become “trainers” and “rucksack”.

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Again, the look back on the main road in Ealing. This is about 9:15am as I was walking towards RH from the station.

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5 Comments

  1. Posted February 11, 2008 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    it sounds like fascinating work, but what a long day…!

  2. Posted February 11, 2008 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    Wow, what a commute! Crazy to think that there are people who do that every single day!

    Thanks for sharing your week of work there! That was really interesting. When I first started college, I wanted to be a children’s book editor, so it’s kind of neat for me to see a glimpse of “what could have been.”

  3. Posted February 11, 2008 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    Oooh!! Sounds like a lot of good, hard fun/work. I’m so glad you’ve found something so fitting. And now, I’m way behind on blog reads, so I must enter a few contests (thanks to YOU) and post about them on my blog!

    Have another good week!

  4. Posted February 11, 2008 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    That sounds like a lot of fun! Something like that would be right up my alley. Of course, I’ve always thought I’d make a good librarian, too. ;-p

  5. Margaret
    Posted February 11, 2008 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

    wow! thanks for sharing your experiences. definitely looks like you learned a lot.

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