Interview with Editorial Assistant Sara Quaranta

I’m so excited to introduce you to the amazing Sara Quaranta, who is the editorial assistant to my editor, the indomitable Lauren McKenna. In case you don’t already know this…editorial assistants are the ones who literally keep the publishing world running smoothly. Sara is a magician when it comes to editing, but she’s also got her hand in everything else, from coordinating with the art department and sales and marketing teams, to wrangling authors with deadlines. (Plus, Sara is also really great about sending me books and other Gallery swag. We make a great team.)


JC: What is your official title and job description?

SQ: I am an editorial assistant at Gallery Books/Pocket Books/Scout Press. In addition to my daily administrative tasks, I am responsible for reading manuscripts, considering submissions, handling authors and agents, and being the liaison between multiple in-house departments.

JC: How many editors to your work with? How do you balance all of the things they need you to do?

SQ: I work with two. Balancing the workload was definitely tougher at first. But one of them came to Gallery only about six or seven months before I did, so she didn’t have a huge list at first, which gave me a lot of time to get a feel for the other’s expansive list, as well as get a hang of the job and all of the little things it entails. It worked out pretty perfectly this way. Now that she has a full list, too, I am much quicker and more efficient at the day-to-day aspects of the job, so while the workload and the scope of my responsibilities have increased, luckily it doesn’t feel like it!

JC: How involved are you in the acquisition process? Do you read manuscripts and then pass them onto your editors, or do they read first and then let you weigh in?

SQ: A little bit of both; it just depends on the submission! If they are reading something they really like, they’ll ask me to take a look with them and let them know what I think, or if I’m reading something I love, I’ll tell them they need to start reading immediately (like I did with The Ones We Choose!). It’s definitely a collaborative process, but there are usually at least two sets of eyes on every submission.

JC: How involved are you in the editing process? Your name was all over my own track changes…were any of those edits yours, or were they mostly your editor’s?

SQ: I usually take the first stab at an edit, both structurally and at a sentence level. Because one of my editors only edits on hard copy by hand, I then print off the manuscript (track changes and all) for her to look over and mark up. Once she is finished reviewing, I input her changes into the electronic version you receive, which is why you see my name in every comment. So long story short, the edits you saw were both of us!

JC: Besides making sure the wheels don’t fall off your editors’ buses, what do you spend the majority of your time doing?

SQ: Since that takes up the majority of my time, the remainder is usually spent wrangling in-house departments and authors to adhere to deadlines, and attending meetings.

JC: What did you do before coming to work for Simon & Schuster?

SQ: I graduated from Northwestern University in March 2016 with a degree in journalism. I’ve known since high school, though, that I wanted to work in publishing and spent that summer looking for opportunities in the industry. I ended up interning at Folio Literary Management, where I gained invaluable experience and knowledge, and stayed there until I got this job in March of 2017.

JC: Where do you see yourself in one year? Five years? Ten years?

SQ: Definitely still in the industry! Within the next year, I would love to have acquired a book of my own and continue to build my list from there as my career grows.

JC: What’s the best part about your job?

SQ: The free books! But a close second is the editing (I spent a lot of time copyediting in college, so I love doing a really in-depth line edit) and getting to work with literary-minded people all day. I’ve been able to work closely with some incredibly talented writers, from New York Times bestsellers who have built brands for themselves to debut authors with really fresh ideas. And I’ve been so lucky to learn from not only my bosses who have worked in the business their entire lives, but also a lot of my colleagues. Some of the most fun I’ve had at work is discussing a book a colleague is really excited about or sitting down to replot a book with another editor.

JC: What’s the hardest part about your job?

SQ: There’s a lot more that goes into getting a book published than most people would think. You have to acquire, edit, design, produce, sell, and print books each season, and when the next season rolls around, it all begins again. There’s always a million things going on, which means there’s always a ton of work to do, but luckily that means there’s never a dull moment!

JC: What would people be surprised to learn about working for a major publishing house?

SQ: Most of the reading and editing does not happen in the office!


Thank you, Sara, for taking the time to answer our questions!


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Author: Julie Clark

Born and raised in Santa Monica, California, Julie Clark grew up reading books on the beach while everyone else surfed. After attending college at University of the Pacific, and a brief stint working in the athletic department at University of California, Berkeley, she returned home to Santa Monica to teach. She now lives there with her two young sons and a golden doodle with poor impulse control. Her debut, THE ONES WE CHOOSE, will be published by Gallery/Simon & Schuster in May 2018.