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Day in the Life: Jon Simeon

Design Assistant, Charlesbridge

Day: Tuesday

I guess the fun part about my job is that most days are never the same, so pinning down day-in-the-life is a bit difficult. This particular day, however, stuck out since I managed to get in some of the core bits of my responsibilities: working with illustrators, writing revision letters, and planning things out with editors. One thing that is missing, however, is the chaos that is uploading books from home to our printers…but I guess that’s a story for another day.

8:00 AM – Trying to Roll out of Bed and Failing

It’s always a journey to get out of bed, especially given how my apartment doesn’t have central heating and I rely on a space heater and a bajillion blankets to stay warm. I try to make a cup of coffee in the morning and use that as an incentive to get up—today is not one of those days. I stay in bed. 

9:00 AM – Checking Email in Bed

I take a look at what’s happening and try to figure out what I want to do. Weekends and weekdays now-a-days are feeling very samey, and one weird side effect is that I wake up and have no idea what I’m working on at the moment. I kind of always need to take the time to remind myself what’s going on and ponder other random ontological and existential quandaries.

On today’s docket of random things I need to track down:

  • Agents looking for payments for art— have we paid them yet, or are things still in the works
  • Tracking down info for Illustrators’ W-9’s
  • The current status of art approvals I sent to our Publisher and Creative Director. 

10:00 AM – Jump on a “Work Together” Zoom Call with Friends

One thing that’s been helping me keep focus and not feel so alone, is that my friends and I have been organizing some time to just do work together. I finally get out of bed and make a cup of coffee.

We’re all mostly on mute, and chit-chat is usually kept to a minimum, but it’s nice to see their faces. It kind of simulates a café or office environment, and it helps to have them around while I take care of some of the random things that have popped up in my inbox.

12:00-2:00 PM – Negotiations and Art Direction with an Illustrator

I’m working on a book project that was passed onto me by another designer. The fun part is that I don’t have to think about who to hire and the budget we can spend to make this book happen. The problem is that my vision is a little more than the artist agreed to do in the beginning.

We’ve been working together to pare back on my bonkers-crazy totally-going-to-go-over-the-budget idea. But hey, sometimes you gotta shoot for the moon. I spend the next couple of hours writing instructions for the illustrator. Giving her tips and tricks, a new idea for the cover, and sharing with her references the author dug up for the book. I also make a little skeleton of a book—a full scale PDF with the text set in for her to play around with and get a sense of the size and scope of the project.

All that gets sent to her, and hopefully it’s something we can agree about!

And somewhere in between all this, I took lunch…I think.

2:00-3:00 PM – Production Meeting

This meeting is a rapid fire verbal reporting on the state of all of our in-progress books mixed with some problem solving and schedule moving. It’s always a little scary to be reminded of everything, and it’s always a bummer when you realize a deadline is coming sooner than you’d like. But, it’s a necessary evil we go through every other week.

3:00-5:00 PM – Writing a Revision Letter

I’ve been procrastinating on writing back to an illustrator to give her feedback on her sketches. This particular revision letter is for a math book, and it’s a bit of a doozy. The hard part is interpreting all of the math editor’s comments, measurements, and a bunch of other number related wizardry into simple language and visual aids for the illustrator. Usually, before I do this, the math editor, story editor, and I jump on a call together and have a meeting to make sure all of us are on the same page. But, there wasn’t enough time last week to do one, and we’re already a bit overdue to get back to the illustrator. So, I just take the plunge and get to marking up the sketches on my iPad and cleaning up everyone’s comments. I don’t finish today, but get a fair way through…I might finish sometime before the end of the week. 

5:00 PM – Discuss a Book Budget with an Editor.

An editor and I are looking to hire an illustrator for a book, I’ve checked in with the illustrator’s agent to see if there’s any interest and if our approved budget needs to go back to our contracts committee. It does—the agent is asking for a little more. The editor and I discuss the best strategy for her to bring up in the contract meeting tomorrow.

5:00-6:00 PM – Tying Up Some Loose Ends

My day began with random bits and bobs, and my day ends with random bits and bobs that pop up in my email. None of it I respond to at the moment, and maybe it’s all best saved for tomorrow.

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