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  • Writer's pictureAutumn Sullivan

My Boss's Job

When my Executive Editor at Random House asked me not to leave, I told her I would stay under one condition.

"Give me my boss's job."

Spoiler Alert: She didn't.

In 2010, I was an Assistant Editor at Random House. I worked in the Arts & Crafts division. I worked with the most supportive, encouraging, wonderful people in the world.

But, I had a monster boss. Let's call them R.

R was the perfect stereotype of an elite, entitled Upper West Side editor. R was incredibly connected in the "Art" world, and had a talent for book acquisition that was almost predatory. It was like R could smell whether an author would be a hit.

R loved to discover new authors, loved to get new book deals done. But that was pretty much ALL R wanted to do with book publishing.

I wrote R's contracts. I edited R's titles. I kept them on schedule.

And did the same for my own projects. In total, I had about 25 books on my plate at any one time.

I came in early. I worked through lunch. I stayed late. I worked weekends. I worked on vacation. I worked through having the flu.

All of R's authors knew me. They emailed me when they missed royalty checks, had problems with proofs, or just had a question about the next book.

Some of them knew me so well they thanked me in their books along with R. That meant the world to me.

And I was having a ton of success in my own acquisitions. Turned out I also knew how to spot a hit author. Hot new pop manga artists and legendary comic book artists, I got their deals.

So . . . when R was going to retire and I was deciding between moving back to Florida or moving in with a bunch of strangers so I could stay in NYC, I figured I could just take R's job & keep my apartment.

Problem solved. Except, they didn't give me R's job.

And for a long time I was bitter about that.

But then I started my own freelance editing business. And now . . . over a decade later, I know why I didn't get R's job.

I didn't have R's nose for hit titles in her genres. Watercolors, acrylics, oil paints, sculpture, figure drawing.

I also didn't have her connections.

I wasn't an artist. I was a comic book & video game nerd. That's why my success came from those artists.

I know my genres now. I know who I can help, and who I can't.

If you want to write a romance, I am not your editor. Ditto for memoir or religious stuff. Not my bag, baby.

My brain is geared for the dark, the spooky, the strange. Give me your epic sci-fi, your horror, your strange fantasy. Let's play in the world you create.

I've also become exceptionally good at infusing storytelling into business books and creative non-fiction. Storytelling is my magic. Let me cast a spell on your words.

I'm grateful for everything I learned during my time at Random House.

And even more grateful for everything I have learned BECAUSE of my time at Random House.

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