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One of the things I love about WordPress is that I can see what searches led people to my site. Mostly it’s my name, or Nick and Sheila Pye (not totally sure why–maybe they don’t get written about often enough? Anyway.). Today, though, there was a whole question:

“I am a new Project Manager. What will I receive on my first day of work?”

And I thought, “Huh. I have been a Project Manager for all of five weeks and I already take it for granted that I know what it is that I do.” And then I realized that probably most of my friends don’t know what I do. So, in case you wondered:

Being a Project Manager is primarily a scheduling job. When I get assigned a book, the first thing I have to do is review the schedule I get from the publisher. They’ll tell me when they need to see design samples (pages with sidebars, figures, illustrations, etc. set in with the text) and copyediting samples, when the author needs to get a copy of the book to make final comments and changes (and answer copyeditors’ questions), and when the book needs to be ready to go to the printer. From that assignment schedule, my job is to know what the Art Department and copyeditors are doing so I can make sure the book gets done on time.

Being a Project Manager may also mean doing a lot of copyediting yourself, and a heck of a lot of proofreading. I’m in a small company, so if we can avoid outsourcing copyediting too much, we do.

Note: For those who are unsure of the difference, copyediting means checking a manuscript not only for basic grammar and spelling errors, but also making sure the work fits the publisher’s style (do you say email, e-mail, or E-mail? Is Internet capitalized? Is “timeframe” one or two words?). Proofreading is comparing versions of a manuscript to make sure all the edits from the previous draft made it into the next version, and are both consistent and correct. When you might have half a dozen people editing one chapter, it’s important to look over and make sure one person isn’t adding commas while another is taking them out.

Finally, since this is a small office and we don’t have a receptionist or secretary, my day also involves some administrative work: answering phones, scanning files to colleagues overseas, etc. My boss also sometimes asks for additional projects, such as learning how to use Sharepoint and give short presentations on it.

Overall, I’d estimate I spend about 15%-25% of my time managing schedules and communicating between departments, about 70%-80% of my time copyediting and proofreading, and 5%-10% of my time on administrative tasks.

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