6.30.2006

Aspiring to be an agent or editor

Dear Miss Snark,

I have been following your blog for a while now, though I haven't dared to comment on any blog entry -- I am a dim nitwit, after all.

From a writer's perspective, an agent like you is a god-like figure who is the writer's most assured path toward Nirvana AKA the book shelf. However, what I would like to know is, how did you get here? How did you become an agent? What does it take to become an agent? Do you go to law school because you need to read those contracts? Do you have a degree in English? What makes you a professional agent and me a dumb nitwit? Same for book editors -- how do those mysterious figures end up where they are? What did they do to land them such a ------ rewarding profession?

I understand you can't give detailed information as it might reveal your identity - but what generally does it take to enter the publishing world as an agent or editor, not as a writer?


I ask this because I admire what you do, your interest in books, and well, perhaps some day - god forbid - you will pass on your stilettos to a used-to-be nitwit.



You go to the crossroads and meet a guy named Nick.
He's usually listening to Robert Johnson on his ipod and reading Goethe.

The way you get into publishing is the same way you get into almost any industry. You apply for a job. To see what kinds of jobs are out there subscribe to Publishers Lunch or Media Bistro.

You have to arrange to meet Nick on your own. I hear he reads Craigslist, particularly the Missed Connections part.

5 comments:

One of those mysterious editors. said...

And read. Read, read, read, read, not just great literature, but stuff that is popular and on the top of the bestseller list. I got my first job at a publishing house not because I was qualified, but because I read a lot of chick-lit and the editor who was hiring me was tired of interview recent college grads who were only interested in reading Camus and Faulkner.

Also, be prepared to do a lot of busy-work. Busy-work that's actually important in the process of getting a book made, but busy-work none the less. You're not going to waltz into a publishing company and get to start purchasing manuscripts right away, and if you think all editorial assistants do is read slush you're in for a huge surprise. Grin and bear it, do the best job you can, offer your boss great opinions on the manuscripts she's thinking about buying.

Good luck!

December Quinn said...

You go to the crossroads and meet a guy named Nick.
He's usually listening to Robert Johnson on his ipod and reading Goethe.


You rock, Miss S.

Tori Scott said...

I wish I had the background/training/knowledge to be an agent, because I think I'd be good at it. But there aren't too many agencies around my area, ergo no job openings. And I can't convince the dh to move to New York. Grrrr.

Metal Maiden said...

"You go to the crossroads and meet a guy named Nick. He's usually listening to Robert Johnson..."

That was awesome.

I shudder to think how many classical references I'd miss if Hubby didn't drag me from my heavy-metal bunker once or twice a month.

Melinda said...

Did you hear about the dyslexic bluesman? He went down to the crossroads at the dead of night to sell his soul to Santa.