The Adventures of a Project Manager

March 14, 2014 by Kylee Unrau


At Word Alive Press, the Project Manager’s job is to take care of our authors’ needs and oversee all the day-to-day tasks of the office. From arranging for editing, typesetting, and cover design, to sending out your books to Library and Archives Canada, we are directly in contact with your project every step of the way. This gives us a huge variety of tasks to accomplish for all of our authors. This is an example of my average day:

8:54 am – After rolling out of bed and battling the traffic on Lagimodiere, I arrive at the Word Alive Press offices and greet my coworkers. We quickly exchange pleasantries and then I get down to business, checking the influx of emails that have arrived overnight.

9:15 am – I have cleared my email of all junk mail and messages that do not require a response and can focus on the meatier matters such as author questions, correspondence with our printers or reviewing new book files.

9:45 am – Sure enough, there’s an email from one of our typesetters, with a new file for me to review. I get set up to review for layout, images, the table of contents, chapter starts and any other special requirements the file has. I pour myself a cup of tea and get started. I enjoy this chance to look at the design aspects of the titles we publish, so I’ve been looking forward to this.

10:15 am – I’ve reviewed the file and requested any revisions to be made that I’ve noticed from our typesetter to be completed by the end of the day so that this author can have their printed books in time for their event. I check my inbox again and notice that the author has sent in a photo to replace one that was in the formatted interior. I send the revision to our typesetter.

10:20 am – I also have received the first cover design option for a new book in my inbox! I love being the first person to see what the designer has put together based on the author’s and our collaboration. I can tell that the author will love this one and send it to her right away.

10:45 am – A signed contract comes in from one of the Publishing Consultant’s potential authors. These must be processed asap, so I drop my other tasks and begin creating the invoices, processing the payments, making a personalized Blueprint for this project and adding the manuscript to the editing queue.

12:30 pm – Jen’s desk has a great view out our front windows, so she gives us a warning when the truck pulls up to deliver books.

12:35 pm – Our warehouse has unloaded these and brought the information to the front for us. I double check that the amount we received is correct.

12:40 pm – This is my excuse to go for a walk to visit the warehouse. I go find the pallet of books that was delivered. This is the final product, what we and our authors have been working towards for the months of the publishing process. Since this is our final chance to check for any printing issues, I carefully look through the printed copies before returning to my desk to let the author know that their print run has arrived. We keep a sample copy from each print run, so I bring one back to add to the collection above my desk!

1:00 pm – Lunch time! Or, in this case, the office Starbucks run (I think one of the requirements of working here is that you must be a Starbucks fiend). Today is my turn to drive over and place the order for the team: Cinnamon dolce latte for Jen; double long espresso for Amy; light water, extra hot chai latte for Marie; and a half sweet caramel macchiato for me!

1:25 pm – I return to the office with everyone’s beverage of choice and am greeted with cheers as I distribute the much needed afternoon caffeine.

1:30 pm – Back to work. My inbox now has 14 new messages and I have 2 voicemails waiting on my phone. Good thing I’ve got my caffeine fix.

2:45 pm – I receive the press ready files from the cover designer and typesetter and upload the book information and files to our print on demand printer, so we can have the author copy printed and shipped to its excited recipient.

3.00 pm – I now have the final payment for the books that have come in and let the warehouse knows the books can be shipped out.

3:05 pm – I also have received the revisions to the formatted file from our typesetter that I requested this morning. I double check the changes and then send the file to the author with instructions on how to review them. The author will need to send back their revisions by tomorrow so that we can get their books to them in time. Maybe I’ll give him a call to make sure he sees it in time.

3:30 pm – I create an event poster for an author who has recently approved their cover design and send it to them along with the request for media kit information so that we can get a head start on them.

4:40 pm – The warehouse manager brings us the proof copy of our latest children’s book! We all gather around to admire the printed book. I check the colours and make sure the illustrations all look bright and clear. I send an email to the author that we have received the printed proof, and ask them to give me a call when they receive their copy so we can compare notes.

4:59 pm – I tidy up my desk and make sure that all the documents that are on my computer have saved properly. I shut down my computer, and go home to my favourite hobby: reading.

Being a Project Manager can be a challenging job at times, but it is rewarding to see a project through from beginning to end. We get to see the book from the moment the author finishes writing and signs the publishing contract. We hear their ideas for cover design and interior thoughts, and are the first people to get our hands on a printed book in the office. Being a lifelong reader, I love being able to see the whole process and helping books to come to life, while lending our professional suggestions and experience to every author’s project.

About this Contributor

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Kylee is a graduate of the University of Winnipeg with majors in both English and Theatre. She enjoys fantasy and science fiction, horseback riding and video games, tea and coffee (most people prefer one or the other. I say, “Bring on the caffeine!”). Kylee hates Winnipeg winters and loves bonfires and camping.