Works and Days



Northwestern University Press: Manon Gilmore, Winter Shadow 2016

When I arrived in Chicago to spend a week this January shadowing Anne Gendler, managing editor in design and production at Northwestern University Press, I admit I didn’t know what to expect. I had always thought of the publishing industry as notoriously difficult to infiltrate, a cutthroat business where productivity and ambition were valued in a time where people are fond of saying that print is dying. Yes, this was a small press, but would it be different?

My first hint that I had nothing to worry about was when I matched the street number I had typed into my phone with a small house that had a “Northwestern University Press” sign out front. Inside was toasty warm (outside the temperature was single digits verging into the negatives, but Chicagoans are good at staying warm), and I was followed in by Grace, the other Reed extern who had arrived the week before. When we had tramped upstairs and shed all of our layers, our arrival was greeted with a cheer, and we immediately got to work.

Equipped with a red pencil and a loaner copy of The Chicago Manual of Style, I spent my week at the press checking passes of manuscripts—essentially different rounds of edits—against each other, proofreading e-books and one author-made index, and attending staff meetings, where all aspects of the process were discussed to see what progress had been made in the week between meetings: acquisitions editors introduced their new books, project editors updated the status of manuscripts undergoing editing, sales and marketing people talked about cover design and material, book size, selling points, and likely audiences.