Dear Miss Snark,
I want to be a literary agent. I believe I have the people skills, the capability to discern quality, the necessary passion for literature, and the public relations experience.
However, I have no clue how to break into this business! How did you begin on this righteous and most excellent career path? More specifically, would you recommend working up through a firm like William Morris (and subsequently signing 5 years of my twenties to them), or completing a certification program like the one at NYU?
I would greatly value your response, as there is no one in my life or family that has had similar experience.
Please, please Miss Snark, help me make the post-graduation leap of faith a hopeful and educated one...!
Wait...you need people skills to be an agent? Dang, back to school for Miss Snark.
There are lots of ways to start out. Being an agent is not an entry level job. You want a job with a publisher first. And you want to be in New York. And, I hate to say this,but you also do the certificate program while you're employed, not in lieu of a job. IF you play your cards right, your employer will pay some or all of the tuition.
First step: subscribe to Publishers Marketplace ($20/month). The job board there is what we all use.
Apply for every job you can.
Also apply for internships. Some are paid, most not but people hire their interns more often than they hire others so it's an investment.
Once you get a job or an internship THEN plan your trajectory.
Make friends with solo agents. Lots of us look for young whippersnappers to help cause someone helped us back in the puppy days.