agenting · Publishing Life · querying

Literary Agents Are People Too

The title may sound obvious but I think people sometimes forget that literary agents are just people doing their jobs. Some authors get frustrated and lash out, forgetting there is a real person behind the social media profile or email address. We also aren’t hanging out in ivory towers cackling over rejections. In fact many of us hate that part of our job. Many of us are also writers too, including yours truly. We all joined publishing because we love books, not because we wanted to crush dreams. And yes there are many aggravating things about the traditional publishing industry, but don’t put all the blame on us. We are just people trying to make a living doing what we are passionate about.

Literary agents may seem like mysterious shadowy figures who are hard to get the attention of. In reality that is due to the number of queries we receive, hundreds to thousands a year. We send form rejections because we simply don’t have the time to individually reply or there would be no time to get work done for our clients. We can be hard to book for events because we tend to work long hours and need a break so we don’t burn out. We are often seen as the scary, mean industry gatekeepers but most of us don’t want to be the gatekeepers. We just want to find great books and help authors. And yes we complain about the industry too. I hate how it so often feels stacked against authors. Continue reading “Literary Agents Are People Too”

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agenting · Publishing Life

Work-life Balance in Publishing

I think it’s pretty safe for me to say many if not all of us working in publishing struggle to have a healthy work-life balance. Our jobs can be time demanding so much so that it can feel like there’s never enough time to get everything done. As an editor I had to balance how many projects I accepted at one time. As an agent I keep a close eye on my client list and how many upcoming projects I have when I consider making an offer. My big goal for 2019 is to try to obtain a healthier work-life balance. Thankfully since I live in Pittsburgh instead of NYC, my cost of living is lower which means I can keep my client list smaller. So here’s some cold hard truth about my work-life balance as an agent.

Clients always come first, but because handling work for them takes up my regular work hours, reading to find new clients often gets pushed into personal time. Once you get behind on queries its difficult to catch back up without closing to new queries. I set aside a half hour a few times a week to go through queries. This keeps me on track, but as the number of queries in my inbox rises so does the time needed to get through them and read all the “maybes” I have marked. And really that’s why you really need to grab me with your query and first chapter because there are probably five or more other manuscripts being considered for a full request and I don’t have time to request and read them all. Continue reading “Work-life Balance in Publishing”

agenting · Publishing Life

My Communication Style

When it comes to communication I’m a typical millennial, which means I prefer emails to phone calls. To me email is faster and more convenient than waiting around to schedule a call. The vast majority if not all of my communications with clients is done over email. Not only is it convenient for me, but it frees my phone up for emergency and editor calls. Having most communication done over email is pretty typical these days. If you are the type who relies on phone calls to discuss everything, then I’m probably not the agent for you.

As an editor I never did phone calls. Even my job interviews with houses were all done via email as well as my communication with authors.  Basically I got accustomed to doing everything via email. Not to mention many of my clients hold other day jobs and while they can’t do a call during work hours, they can email. I often wonder if the offer email will start to trump the offer call in the digital era. I have signed clients without phone calls and to me they are no different than clients who I called. The email signings went so smoothly I have considered switching to the offer email across the board. When I’m ready to offer, I let my prospective clients know when I ask to chat with them. If I have questions I want answers to before offering, I usually ask them while I finish reading or right after reading while I mull everything over. I do that because by the time it comes to me wanting to chat more with them to see about offer, I want to be sure about that offer and know everything I need to leading up to that so we can get right down to business when I make an offer. Continue reading “My Communication Style”

Editing · Grammar · Publishing Life · Writing

Rates: Content VS. Copy Edits

Content editing and copy edits usually have different rates. In the traditional sphere I often hear about how content edits take longer than copy, but in the indie sphere it’s often the opposite with copy edits costing more. I found myself thinking about this when I saw an agent mention how content edits take longer and cost more, even though most freelance editors I’ve seen have higher copy rates, myself included. So let’s discuss why that is! This is all based on my observations, so keep in mind other editors may have different opinions and views on the topic. There is some harsh truth in this post but fear not because there is advice at the end!

As a reminder for those who might not know, content edits deal with things like plot, pacing, and character development while copy edits deal more with line edits and grammar. Some editors have a knack for grammar while others find grammar frustrating but are great at spotting weak character development and plot holes. It’s not uncommon for editors to focus on one or the other and they often do so in the houses while freelance editors might offer multiple services to bring in more projects. I got my start as a proofreader and copy editor on the traditional side but these days I find I enjoy content editing more. Continue reading “Rates: Content VS. Copy Edits”

Editing · Publishing Life · querying · Writing

Lessons from the Slush

Those who follow my blog by now should be super aware that I’m an editor. I’ve edited for 5+ houses, but I’ve also been a literary agency intern and assistant. I wanted to take a break from all my book reviews to discuss some of my experiences on the agency side in regards to the slush. One of my first thoughts after getting a peek at the slush during my internship was that I wish I’d gotten that experience earlier in my editing career. I think it’s useful experience not just for aspiring agents, but also editors and writers. It gave me a whole new respect for acquiring editors and a better understanding of the acquisitions process. I found there was a lot to be learned from the slush.

As an editor I don’t deal with acquisitions, just the edits that come after. That means I often heard tales about the slush, but until I interned with a literary agency I never saw it for myself. The most surprising aspect of seeing it? How many of the subs had decent writing. Sure you get authors who don’t follow guidelines and aren’t in querying shape yet, but I was surprised by how many subs I read that had passable writing. I was expecting a lot more of it to be nowhere near ready. My first dive into the slush to find something to pass to my agent caused me to struggle to decide what to pass on since as an editor I was so used to taking something no matter the quality and polishing it. As I got more experience with the slush, it became much easier as I learned to pick out the best writing and most eye-catching stories. The editor in me could see possible edits for many submissions, but as I learned through experience some of them just needed too much work. I was used to making editing decisions after acquisitions, not deciding what to acquire, and that was the big learning experience for me.  I learned how to spot quality in the slush and pick out the gems. Continue reading “Lessons from the Slush”