Archives: Literary Agents

Presentation at Lucinda Literary/ WeWork's offices - Fulton Center.

On Thursday evening, we hosted a presentation on publishing for The Fresh Air Fund’s job shadowing program. Fresh Air is an amazing organization founded in 1877 with the simple intention to give inner city kids the experience of “fresh air”–at summer camps far from the streets of New York. Since then, it has become more like a family, offering children and their parents all kinds of educational resources throughout the year, and closely monitoring kids to ensure they stay on course to graduate college.

As part of the presentation, we created the short quiz below to discover which job in publishing was best suited to their personality traits. Take it yourself, or share it with young people curious about publishing careers, and tell us below the post how accurate you found your results.

What Job in Publishing is Right for You?

Choose just one answer for every question.

Choose the best quality combination to describe your personality from those below:

  1. Dreamy/Creative
  2. Thoughtful/Introverted
  3. Articulate/Passionate
  4. Talkative/Social

When you were little you wanted to be or were most drawn to the careers of:

  1. Artists
  2. Teachers or doctors
  3. Lawyers or CEOs
  4. Singers or Actors

You often find yourself:

  1. In your own world: observing people and imagining their lives
  2. Reading and helping friends with their schoolwork
  3. Socializing with other people, where you are often the storyteller of the group
  4. Browsing the internet, watching television and movies, communicating with friends

What interests you most in a career is:

  1. To leave something important behind for generations to come–a legacy
  2. To help others
  3. Learning about business and making money
  4. Working in a fun, fast-paced, social environment

You feel happy and stimulated when:

  1. Expressing yourself
  2. Giving feedback to others
  3. Helping others solve problems
  4. Positive feedback and rewards

You feel [fill in the blank] way about money:

  1. It doesn’t really interest you beyond the minimum you need to live your life
  2. You’d like to make a good living
  3. Making money is very important
  4. It’s more important to have a fun and fulfilling job than to make money

You feel [fill in the blank] about rejection:

  1. It hurts, but it won’t ever stop you from putting yourself out there.
  2. You find you’re able to make a rejection when necessary in a polite way.
  3. You can deal with it.
  4. It’s the worst thing ever.

It doesn’t bother you to:

  1. Be alone for hours in the day
  2. Do detail oriented work. You like the feeling of progress!
  3. Discuss or deal with money
  4. Talk to strangers. You can always find things in common with people!

keep-calm-and-check-your-answers-9

Mostly 1’s? Your personality is well-suited to be a writer.

Author

You are imaginative, creative, like to observe others, and are happy being in your own world—which is essential for all the hours you’ll need to spend writing if you have a career as an author!

 

 

Mostly 2’s? You could be a book editor!

Editing an English language document

You really thrive helping others (as you would be helping writers), and you have a natural strength for long, detail-oriented work, which will be necessary for all the manuscripts you’ll be editing.

 

Mostly 3’s? The best role for you in the publishing industry could be as a literary agent.

Lit Agent

Like editors, you enjoy helping people, and like publicists, you are social creatures, but your passion for business differentiates you from the rest of the pack.

 

 

Mostly 4’s? Book publicity would be a great career for you.

talk_to_my_publicist_jadedstarlet_couture_tank-rdf89eb12ed6b4c649346c38a680f4610_8nhmp_324

You love people, entertainment, and pop culture and are always in the know about news and trends. Working in a fast-paced environment and booking media for authors will bring you joy and immediate satisfaction.

If you’re a fiction or memoir lover, you have probably, at some point, fallen in love with a 20-Something title. Three favorites of ours: Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, J.R. Moehringer’s The Tender Bar and one hilariously well-written debut, Girls in White Dresses.

Even if a 20-Something book is written by a 40-Something, it’s still perhaps one of the hardest genres to sell—maybe because its primary audience increasingly reads content on Facebook and blogs, which offer so much dishing-all that, well, why would you need to read it elsewhere? (Ironically, according to this report, Gen Y seems to be leading in terms of overall book buying.)

Do readers want a story that is aspirational but characters who are not always? Very possibly. If the heroine of the novel is too precious, polished, or perfect, makes no blunders, has only happy endings—well, they’re just not so likeable, are they? The best 20-Something characters can be down-on-their-luck and still, with exquisite wry humor, make us laugh. And they’re usually tough, not wallowing in pain the way our 20-Something selves may be.

Agents, receiving more submissions in the history of books than ever before, are seeing more and more proposals and manuscripts written by, or about, 20-Somethings. Before you seek representation, here are a few pointers that might be helpful to consider.

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Lately, I’ve been admiring the craft of representation in my friends and colleagues. One agent with whom I’ve had the opportunity to work has been particularly inspiring. Like many agents, she’s witty, charming, and able to make wise decisions and thoughtfully field questions at an impressively fast page. There’s a subtlety to her manner that I can’t quite describe, except to say that her emails never jar me; never rub the wrong way. Remarkable, because being an agent requires both delivering good news and bad, and often disproportionately. This person has achieved a certain delicacy with both – never over-promising, nor glossing or muddying her words. But what I admire most in said mysterious agent? Read more »

There’s a question authors ask, around which there’s alot of hype and not alot of clarity: “What can I expect for my book advance?

It’s a perfectly reasonable question to ask an agent after several conversations and a verbally understood agreement of representation; not recommended to ask upon preliminary conversation.

Why should an author be cautioned against asking this question at the get go, however important it is to know?
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Books are made on word-of-mouth.
At least those books that receive critical acclaim or top the bestseller charts. Think The Help or The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and countless others.

This is more than publicity. This is the unquantifiable magic of human capital. No matter how much you spend, it can’t really be predicted.

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Being an agent is living with a sense of death-threatening urgency. All my life I was told: “simmer down, what’s the urgency?” “take a chill pill” (that traumatizing childhood experience), or, my father’s famous line, “Your urgency does not qualify my emergency.”

When I became an agent, my boss told me one of the reasons I was hired was on the basis of my urgency. It wasn’t the first time I was reminded of the famous Alanis Morrisette song.

Today, I wanted to share this eCard that speaks to the agent (and writer and dater) experience, particularly when on submission with a proposal. I know many of you relate.

Ah, publishing, an industry predicated on acceptance and rejection. (Here’s a provocative essay further to that point).

There’s a first rule in becoming an agent: “learn how to manage your client.” This is true of any entertainment agent: when you are invested in someone’s longterm career, you need to allow your client to dream big in the creation process but moderate expectations in the fulfillment of that dream with conservatism, and guide clients to detach themselves from their work as more parties are involved. And encourage that they detach themselves again when they become, as so many artists, the subject of criticism or enjoy the celebrity of fandom–the majority of well-recognized authors experience both, in equal part.

But what about managing your agent or your editor?  Read more »

A tweet can make a difference.

I see this happen all the time. But many writers I’ve advised to blog and tweet, will grieve: “no matter what I do, I don’t see anyone coming to my blog!”

But then, suddenly, one day, one hour, and within ten seconds, that changes, and one of the most influential Twitterers falls upon your blog, and tweets about it to his thousands of followers. And suddenly, you see 20 new follows and an unprecedented spike in your web traffic; if you’re published, maybe even a spike in your Amazon ranking.

In publishing today, there is no such thing as “build it and they will come.”

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I was speaking with a young friend of mine, an artist and aspiring children’s book writer, about his day job: the one that pays the bills, and a necessary evil for most creatives. I’ve encountered three types of people in my life. The first are those who grow up with a hardworking parent — by hardworking, I mean a hospital doctor, a successful banker or lawyer, a diplomat, or a parent who worked multiple, more menial jobs to make ends meet. These children tend to follow in those footsteps, often making great sacrifices, because hard work and often, the compensation for it, was the greatest value they were taught. As the great filmmaker Michael Apted said, quoting a Jesuit proverb, about his now famous 7 Up series, “the coal miner’s son becomes the coal miner.” To a large degree, don’t you find this true in yourself, in those you know?

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Categorized: Authors and Writers