It is my pleasure to introduce the magnificent mistress of multi-tasking, Brittany Shirley, production manager for BelleBooks Publishing. Since I write for BelleBooks, one might say my attitude toward Brittany’s fabulousness is slightly skewed in her favor. This may be true, but shortly after Brittany was hired, she became indispensable. Ask her to do the impossible and she’ll give it her best shot along with a polite, “Thank you, Ma’am.” What does a production manager do? Keep reading for a day in the life of Brittany Shirley.
I ran into a good, but rarely seen, friend the other day. We exchange the niceties, “Oh, you look great.” “Wow, your hair is amazing.” I ask her how motherhood is suiting her. She tells me about her one year-old son, and I listen and nod politely. Then the first question out of her mouth is, “What are you doing now?” So I answer with the title that is written on my business card. “I am the production manager for BelleBooks, Inc. It’s a publishing company.”
“Could you be more vague?” she responds. We both laugh. I never really tell people what I do. I just say that I work for a publishing company. Because most people don’t really care to know the depth of what that means, I rarely get questioned for details. So, I do actually attempt to be less vague by answering her question.
“Where do I begin? I work with authors.” As though someone who has never worked with authors would understand, she nods. Since we don’t have an office full of authors typing away at the computer writing bestsellers (which is my fondest wish), we communicate through e-mail. We have over a hundred authors. Imagine how many e-mails I receive every day from just them. Not a complaint, just a fact. I get e-mails in large quantities. I start by pushing the orders to Jennifer, our accounting supervisor. She is so gracious. She doesn’t even grimace anymore.
If it isn’t an order, someone needs help setting up a book signing. After the thirteenth time of telling the lovely coordinator at the bookstore that our books ARE returnable and we DO offer a discount, they finally understand and place an order. Then, someone’s book cover is missing on an eBook platform. I resubmit it, contact that platform, and keep my fingers crossed that they fix it in a timely manner.
I look at the clock, and it is almost 11:00. Our weekly production call is about to take place. I look one last time at our pub dates and call. I talk to our main editors to discuss our upcoming schedule. Editors are allowed to pitch ideas for promotions, preorders, and marketing strategies. We talk about the new contests and conferences. Plans are made, schedules are changed, and lists are written. I walk away knowing that I now am in charge of ordering the projects for our production engineer to get us print proofs and eBooks.
With as many titles as we have coming out every month, he loves for us to order everything for him. I get back to my desk and make a tentative schedule for him to start. I have to stop with the e-mails and actually begin to work on my to-do list. I fill out six spreadsheets for our three newest titles. Then one eBook platform at a time, I upload each title. As I wait for the ePubs and Mobis to finish loading, I contact the lovely people at RWA to ask questions about the technical materials I need to make sure we have for our Spotlight. A more few spreadsheets and two preorders later, I look up at the clock. 2:00. It’s time for lunch.
After I finish eating, I have another conference call. This time I speak with a Barnes & Noble rep. We discuss BelleBooks, Inc. as a publisher. She explains our new options for promotions. We chat for a while about our titles and how well they are selling in the US and around the world. I champion a few titles for their Daily Find. I then submit them correctly and begin to write out a promotion schedule report. I look at the bags on the counter and realize I need to finish and get busy working on conference items.
Since the RWA conference is approaching, I double check the goodie bags for the authors. I have everything in each bag except the chocolates. Those are something I have to pick up in California. Just dropping off the boxes for shipment would make them melt. Ah, the lovely weather we have in Memphis! It is always humid and hot. I finalize everyone’s schedule, make notebooks, and pack up the remaining promotion materials. The PowerPoint is finalized and double checked by all of the girls in the office.
At the end of the day, I go to our blog page to set up the next day’s blog. I look at our page to check the newsletter before it is sent to the masses. I bug one of the editors for a back cover copy so I can get a new title uploaded for preorder. Before I leave for the day, I look at my to-do list and see only five things crossed off. My to-do list is three pages long. I groan that I am not fast enough, and my day is complete.
My friend sighs and says, “Wow!”
After working for a publishing company, I greatly appreciate authors. I will never put myself in that same class. They truly are remarkable people who put their craft out there for others to judge. That is an incredible feat, especially to me. I keep my crafts at home and only give them away to family for birthdays or Christmas.
Brittany Shirley is the production manager for BelleBooks, Inc. She has a Bachelor of Science in Integrative Studies from the University of Memphis. She has loved books since an early age and began reading at the age of four. Her hobbies include white water rafting, hiking, knitting, crafts, and mindlessly wandering through Pinterest. She is in the middle of two amazing sisters and has an adorable niece and a handsome nephew.