The Career Path that leads to Snarkville
Dear Miss Snark, Literary Agent
I only very recently became a Snarkling, but I really appreciate the help and advice you offer on your site. Now, naturally, I have a few questions. I'm thinking I might like to become a literary agent. I'm a second-year University student, and would like to know what particular classes or areas of study are helpful to becoming a literary agent? I'm taking English, Comparative Literature, and Creative Writing right now, would those classes help? What lesser occupations should one apply for to work one's way up to becoming a literary agent? What skills (other than
people-skills) are necessary for becoming an agent?
Have you lost your mind?
Are you sure?
Actually being an agent IS fun. I love it. Even on very very very bad days. Even at conferences (and Maria, honest, I never whine, moan or complain when I'm the guest of a conference - that's what this blog is for! When I'm there, I buckle down and work my snarkly ass off)
Agenting is never the first job you have out of university. For starters you need to know a lot about publishing. You need a job in one of the less glam aspects: think sales, pr, or sub rights.
If you want to study things that will be helpful, think accounting, law, or marketing. You don't need to know the structure of Moby Dick to negotiate a contract.
No matter what job you take, writing well is an asset.
And as for those lesser jobs: this is the best piece of advice you'll ever get and it's right here free for the ogling. Do It Well. Even if it's the worst job, with the worst boss in the worst place in the whole world. Do It Well. People notice. They notice when you slack and they notice when you don't.
The key to getting promoted is to be a GREAT person where you are now. An assistant who never complains, does what is asked of her, does it fast, and always on time is the one who gets promoted. How do I know? I'm the one promoting you. And if you've spent one too many lunch hours nattering with your pals about how this job just sux and you can hardly wait to get a new one my contribution is: I'll be glad to assist you in the goal - you're fired.
And don’t overlook internships. They’re a great way to get your foot in the door and start making contacts. You can do that even now.