A day in the life of a Cosmopolitan Editor

Senior Editor at Cosmopolitan magazine, Catriona Innes, gives us an insight into a day in her life; from editing articles to how she decides which books to feature in the magazine. 

6.30am: On an ideal day I’m up with the early birds (or more accurately the early cat, as my cat Corby pushes his paws in my face to wake me up) so that I can work on my own novel for an hour. If I press snooze and tell myself I’ll do it later, I definitely won’t.


7.30am: Shower, get dressed and have breakfast with my husband Ian. I used to just roll out of bed 15 minutes before I was due to leave but I’ve really been enjoying actually having time in the morning lately.


8.30am: Catch the train to work: I live in Zone 5, still in London . . .  but only just! And use my train in (the benefits of living far out is I always get a seat) to read – usually a proof of something I’m interested in featuring, or one I’ve been recommended.


9.30am: Arrive in the office. Sometimes I’ll meet PRs for breakfast before work, I find it especially useful to meet with book PRs, as I trust their opinions so much and they can help identify upcoming publishing trends – which I then use to come up with the ideas for the Cosmopolitan books page.


10am: Check my emails, the news and Twitter (bookmarking any stories that could make interesting features later down the line).


10.30am: Start reading copy. This could be a feature that’s come in from a freelancer or one of our regular pages from someone else in the team. Copy tends to flow like this: it comes in from the writer, I’ll ask them to make changes, before it’s then seen by Amy Grier (our Associate Editor) who will make her own changes. Then it goes to Shoshana Goldberg (Deputy Editor) or Farrah Storr (Editor in Chief) who then ask for any amends. Once we’re all happy with it, it goes to our sub-editors who fact check it and cut it (if needs be) before it goes to the art department who lay it out. The proof is then read by everyone on the team before being sent back to subs who take in any last minute changes.


12.30pm: This tends to be when my mound of post comes in: lots and lots of books which I absolutely love. I keep any that are for the month I am working on (we are always working three months in advance so at the moment I’m looking for 2019’s big releases) and offer any recent releases to the rest of the team to read.


1pm: Take lunch. I made it my New Year’s Resolution to actually use my lunch hour wisely – so if I have time and don’t have a tight deadline I’ll go out and read my book somewhere over lunch, or catch up with friends and colleagues.


2pm: Afternoons tend to be filled up with meetings: either with the online team to ensure our magazine and website content is working smoothly together (they’re in a different team, on a different floor) or with the features team – brainstorming ideas for future issues or working on our extra projects. As well as the magazine we also have our Self Made Summit, a yearly conference in which we invite some of the best business people to speak, and Home Made, in which we house Cosmopolitan readers as part of a collaboration with Dot Dot Dot – a property guardian scheme. We’re also working on something really exciting that’s still secret at the moment but I’m really proud of and can’t wait to tell people in 2019.


4pm: Read through emails in more detail: I get a lot of pitches for magazine features through each day and I want to be able to reply to people properly. What catches my eye, pitch-wise, is if someone has clearly read the magazine and knows what we’re looking for: long-read pieces that really delve deeply into an issue that interests young women. The perfect pitch has a strong headline, is concise, explains why it’s relevant to our readership and how the writer would go about getting the story.


5pm: Begin writing any copy I’m due to hand in. It tends to get pushed later in the day, after I’ve got all pressing things out of the way. This could be my monthly books page or a longer read feature. If it’s a feature I’ll use this time to set up interviews or research and then take a full day to write it once I’ve got everything I need.


6pm: Is when the working day officially ends. I try to get out around this time but sometimes I'm absorbed in what I am doing so will work a little late. Sometimes I’ll go along to a book launch or showcase, which I always enjoy as everyone in the book industry is so nice.


7pm: On the train home my head is too swimming with words to concentrate on reading anything, so I’ll listen to a podcast. I like Fearne Cotton’s Happy Place and Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations – they’re both very soothing!


8pm: Home: usually pasta for tea in front of the telly. I’m loving police dramas at the moment: The Bodyguard and Unforgotten are my favourites.

For even more on what life is like at Cosmopolitan, check out this episode of Book Break, where Emma talks to Catriona and Dusty about what their jobs involve, how they pick the next big books, and their tips for working with books.