The Day in the Life of a Publisher

Being a publisher is a glamorous job. You wield the power to bring tears to the strong. You have the power to give the weak a reason for moving forward.

As Mari Adkins likes to say: “I like it when I make them cry.”

Okay, I’m being facetious.

I’m often asked what it’s like being a ‘big shot’ publisher/editor. I thought I’d share with you a snapshot of a day in the life of a small press guy.

9am–Read emails. Overnight finds twenty-three new emails in my box. Three of them are queries…

“I know your guidelines say your word limit is a firm 5,000 words, but would you consider 5,023 words? I simply cannot cut twenty-three more words without ruining the integrity of my work.”

“I have a 140,000 word high fantasy novel that I feel would be perfect for Apex. Would you like to see it? I know your (sic) closed to novel subs, but we met at Context and you seemed interested…”

“What do you define as dark SF? Would a story about an elf meeting a bisexual vampire in space count?”

Five more are spam. Apparently I’ve been added to a couple of spam lists for some self-pubbers. There’s another from a “PR firm” that mail blasts millions of accounts for the low, low price of $1,499.

While reading email, I get a phone call. My phone sings the theme to Lost in Space.

“Hello, this is Jason Sizemore.”

“Who is this!?”

“Jason Sizemore.”

“Who?”

“Jason SIZEMORE.”

“Is this Apex Publications?”

“Yes.”

“Is this the editor-in-chief?”

“Yes.”

“Jason Sizemore, right?”

Pause. “Yes.”

“I’m a retired cop from New Jersey. I’ve written a book about the spiritual journal of a crack whore who lives in the slums of New York. She meets a nice priest who helps her find Christ. They have an affair and he’s kicked out of the Church–”

“Sir, wait.”

“…they raise three orphans–”

“Sir, we’re not open to novel submissions.”

“This isn’t a novel. It’s a true story.”

Frown. “We’re not accepting any new books.”

“Says here in this book I got at the used bookstore that you’re accepting book pitches.”

“Sorry, you should check our website. We’re not accepting any new books.”

“The book I wrote is titled A Crack in Heaven. The Archbishop–”

“No! I am not interested in your book.”

“Perhaps you can suggest a publisher? Are you friends with anybody who might help out?”

“No!” Twitch.

“Asshole. You sound like a fucking dumb hick hillbilly.” Click.

After he hangs up on me, I go back to my email. Is is now 9:30am. There are two new messages. One is spam. The other is from a writer whose story I rejected yesterday. I open the email from the writer.

“Dear Mr. Sizemore,

Let me just say “Your Loss.” My stories have been published professionally and the story you just rejected has been bought by a better publisher.

Good luck with you7r (sic) fanzine. Asshole.”

I sigh, forward the email to my slush master and put the guy on the black list.

Oh, the phone is ringing again…I decide to forward the rest of my calls and email to somebody like Maurice Broaddus for the rest of the day…

Maybe the job’s not so glamorous, but the evil aspect can be quite fun.

6 comments

  1. Mr. Sizemore,
    Thank you for posting this. I’m a high school senior considering a career in editing or publishing. I’ve looked at several posts from others about the day to day life of a publisher, however, yours seems to be the most honest. I’ve been disappointed by the lack of forthrightness in other posts, if I’m looking into a career I want to know what to expect.
    Thank you for your candor.

  2. Hello Mr.Sizemore,
    I am in 8th grade and we are supposed to write a magazine article over a career we have chosen to research.I chose to do a book publisher. You see, I am a bookworm and you can always find my head in a book. Thank you for posting this well-written article. Not many of the articles i have read so for are as honest and, simply put, direct as yours. I do have a couple of questions for you if you would be able to take the time to answer them…
    Do you enjoy the type of job you have?
    What are some tips for becoming a publisher?
    Is it a good job for people with kids and a spouse?
    What is the typical work attire?
    Is it a flexible job?
    Do you get to finally have the corner office that so many dream of having?
    How stressful and demanding is being a book publisher on a scale from 1 to 10?
    This article really helped with some of my research. Thank you for being completely honest with your work.

  3. Dear Jason Sizemore,

    I’m a sophomore that goes to Buford High school in a small town called Lancaster. Me and my group of friends are writing a brochure and business card about a book publisher and or book publishing company. And we would like to know more information about how you became a book publisher and what it takes to stay one. Also, we would like to just hear more about your job and the pros & cons of being a book publisher.
    Thanks so much in advance,
    Kayla Efird

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