Julie Barton-Breck - Editor, Essentials


I’m running late due to a dog being electrocuted on the rail line.
All the power is shut off and no trains run. The journey usually takes
around 90 minutes; today I don’t make it in ’til 11am – the downside of
living in deepest, darkest Sussex. I’ve also got a hangover, the result
of too much champagne and not enough food the previous evening at a
perfume launch at the Sanderson hotel.

When I arrive at the office I’m feeling a bit tetchy as I only have
half an hour to check the September cover cromalin with the repro house
and production department, OK final proofs as it’s send-down week,
approve some retail point of sale, liaise with the subscriptions and ad
teams, and sort a pressing staff problem before diving into a cab to
north London to check on the cover shoot for the October issue.

new Essentials cover signature is for the clothes and accessories to be
the hero, not the model’s face – a radical move for a mass-market
women’s monthly, but one that got a huge thumbs-up in research.

a cropped image, not a “chopped off head” as a couple of “witty” people
in the business have referred to it. Colour, shape and vitality are key.

absolutely sweltering and the poor models are trying to look calm while
wrapped up in winter coats. However they, and the clothes, look
fantastic and it all goes like a breeze.

I leave and head for the
station clutching copy and proofs to read on the train. At home that
evening the hangover has finally receded and I catch up on the day’s
e-mails and editorial process thanks to a clever techno thing called
VPN that allows me to log onto IPC’s e-mail and server.


Once I’ve cleared the previous day’s layouts and had several mini
catch-up meetings, I go through the latest batch of emails from
readers. Thankfully, the majority are complimentary about the new look
and new size but the detractors seem to have one thing in common –
they’re convinced that because it’s now compact-sized I’ve also reduced
the font size to make it all fit in. I patiently reply, thanking them
for their comments and explain the font is now actually bigger. I’m
thinking that perhaps a magnifying glass cover-mount may be a good idea.

I get a call from the magazine test kitchen saying that the food
entertaining feature for the November issue is ready to try – Japanese
made easy, apparently, with no sushi in sight. I wasn’t sure about the
idea originally as our readers aren’t “cooks” as such, more
throw-it-in-a-pan-and-heat than fans of Delia, and this seemed
complicated. However it’s great – Marina, the food ed, has done a
really quick stir-fry thing, skewers and veggies, with simple
ingredients, and no seaweed.

I eat far too much. Once it’s
approved I chat through with my executive ed, Carrie, and development
art director, Stuart, how we’ll style it, who’ll shoot it and where.

leave the office at 6.30ish and get home at just gone 8pm, which gives
me plenty of time to start winding down and looking forward to doing
absolutely nothing over the weekend.


Oh joy, today is the start of planning for the Christmas issue.

It seems ridiculous to be pondering how to make turkey more exciting this year when it’s so hot.

up, though, is the weekly progress meeting with the senior team to
check the schedules for the issue in hand and the flow of copy and
pictures for the next two issues. It all seems to be ticking along
until my stressed-out chief sub reminds me that we’re “running somewhat
late”. I take more proofs and copy home with me to read before dinner
and a flop on the sofa.


Check my diary in the hope there’s some glitzy event or lavish lunch to get me out of discussing Christmas tree decorations.

There isn’t. So it’s soup and fruit at my desk as I read more proofs.

need to approve the clothes and model options for one of the next
issue’s fashion features. Essentials is all about affordable solutions
and while the clothes need to look gorgeous they also need to be high
street and great value, too. Luckily, my fashion ed, Rachael, has
picked all the best pieces and I’m personally really pleased to see
there’s lots and lots of black stuff, big bags and high heels for the
new season.

After that I go through some ideas with Sarah, the
new beauty ed. Over the years I’ve had to edit a lot of what I call
“beauty bollocks” – endless waffle and meaningless phrases about the
life-changing wonders of lipsticks or blemish creams. Sarah’s great as
she writes succinct copy the readers want: how it works, why they
should buy it, how much it costs and where to get it.

The rest of the day is spent pinning down the features for the upcoming issues and approving the case history pictures.

recurring conversation is why do readers always send in pictures that
should never be seen in public? Most of them seem to be posing in
compromising positions for whoever took the picture. Bless them.


This is turning into a tied-to-my-desk week with yet more planning
meetings and repro pages to be finalised. Next week my diary is
jam-packed with Christmas PR events at cool venues, by which stage I
know I’ll be completely Christmassed-out. At 6pm I drag Stuart and
Carrie to the pub for a quick, but well-deserved, drink and gossip. I’m
home by 8.30 and my husband’s signature dish – Andy’s Special Curry –
is ready and waiting. Thank god it’s not turkey.

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