Behind The Scenes: A Day in the Life of An Associate Editor

S. Zainab Williams

Executive Director, Content

S. Zainab would like to think she bleeds ink but the very idea makes her feel faint. She writes fantasy and horror, and is currently clutching a manuscript while groping in the dark. Find her on Twitter: @szainabwilliams.

This Behind the Scenes highlighting a day in the life of an associate editor was originally published as an exclusive for Book Riot Insiders. Sign up for a free two-week trial and join the club!

Today, I’m throwing it back to yesterday. As in 2018, which truly feels like 1,000 years, when I wrote this piece for Book Riot Insiders as an associate editor. Honestly, who even is this person? I wrote this in the Before Times when I did things like leave my apartment. It’s odd to read about my past life from where I sit; somewhat akin to leafing through an archaeological record of a bygone era.

In any case, if you’ve ever wondered what it was like to wear the associate editor hat, here’s a picture of one such hat, though it may be slightly askew, distractedly decorated — a bit kooky.

Thursday, September 13

6:15 a.m.
Spent five minutes staring into the void, considering this: which would bring me the most satisfaction — staying in bed with my laptop and espresso, or leaving my bed to enjoy a slice of toast with said espresso? So much time wasted; staying in bed is always the correct answer.

7:00 a.m.
My apartment is perfect at this time of day. Payne’s gray, laptop-lit. Silent but for the odd yowls of a hungry, baffled cat.

I search myself for inner calm, I search the internet for Daily Deals.

7:30 a.m.
“What does Anna Wintour have for breakfast?” I wonder aloud to Tabitha. She meows noncommittally. “The liver of an enemy,” I tell her, wide-eyed with clairvoyance, “seared like ahi.”

My almond butter on toast mocks me. I gobble it up and fortify myself by lurking the #just-for-laughs channel of the contributor Slack.

8:50 a.m.
Covering Jenn’s Swords and Spaceships newsletter while she’s out. I decide against pasting in the high fantasy short story I wrote in 7th grade, which concluded with the genius phrase, “And then she woke up.” I write about novellas instead.

I predict I will be haunted by vague misgivings for the remainder of the day.

11:10 a.m.
Sitting in my car in the parking lot outside the doctor’s office. She gave me a high five for getting the flu shot. How clean can doctors’ hands actually be?

On the radio, Steve Winwood’s “Higher Love” reaches its concluding crescendo. “Treat yourself,” I bark as if triggered by the antics of a hypnotist named Donna.

I leave the car at home and walk my day’s work to the coffee shop.

11:40 a.m.
I delight in asking for an Americano at the same cafe until I no longer have to ask. Because, one day, just when they think they know me, I will order the most ridiculous drink on the menu, watch as the barista experiences a split second of vertigo, and then shimmer into the mist with my latte, never to return. I am written into the Baristi Book of Horrors, of this I am certain. All of us who work remotely are.

The flu shot and caffeine withdrawal have me riddled with cheeky nihilism. I order a honey cardamon latte with an extra shot and housemade walnut milk. And whisper, “Adieu.”

12:35 p.m.
Scheduling social, listening to Billie Holiday. “Lovable, huggable Emily Brown. Miss Brown to you — 14 Luxury Harry Potter Gifts for Adults:” … Let’s try that again.

12:45 p.m.
Vacating my seat mere moments after finishing my latte. Feeling smug and superior about my coffee shop etiquette. My pace slows as I approach center stage, a hair’s breadth of sound mind away from shouting, “HA!” at everyone in the cafe.

It’s beginning to feel like fall in Portland. Plaid is a sedative; I leave without making a scene.

1:01 p.m.
Scrolling through #RiotGrams for reposts. Suddenly I’m less $50 and expecting an order of pretty books. I peer into my soul, looking for regret, and find nothing.

3:00 p.m.
Steak break because lattes don’t count as food even when they are 90% sugar. Anyway, it’s time I stopped hitting refresh on the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina trailer I foisted upon the readers of Today in Books.

4:17 p.m.
Checking my task list: “Write high fantasy books post.” I feel attacked.

4:47 p.m.
Stepping away from my laptop to prepare for my first hip hop dance class. Looking forward to showing off the aughts-era moves I learned from Hip Hop Dance Party Urban Style, now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

Wish me luck,