Monday, October 4, 2010

From Intern to Agent in Training

What do I do as an agent in training?  What does the training consist of?  How is it different than being an intern?

I get these questions frequently from people in my life (among the most obvious "What is a literary agent?").  I realized recently that perhaps my readers would like to know as well.  Well, let's start at the beginning.

Intern: As an intern I read queries, rejected queries, requested material, read manuscripts, rejected manuscripts, brought manuscripts to acquisition meetings, and learned why manuscripts I thought I loved would not be represented by the agency.  Read an agent blog and you will learn the reasons go from "not right for our agency" to "not ready" to "just doesn't interest me."  And no two reasons are ever the same.  I learned a lot about writing at this stage, which is amazing considering I don't consider myself a writer.  My favorite thing about being an intern, was that I got to make mistakes.  At first, you request a lot of manuscripts.  Eventually, I learned the hard way to tell from the query if the ms was going to be any good (hence why agents put so much emphasis on the query).  Agents do love having interns with different viewpoints than themselves.  For example, I requested one ms that the agent would not have given a second look at.  I couldn't put it down (that's the goal after all), and the agent couldn't put it down.  Every reader who read it couldn't put it down, and to this day I chalk it up to "I didn't have a clue what I was doing."  If I had received that query today, I would have rejected it.  But that's all part of the learning process.  And, as sad as it is, a lot of it has to do with luck (which is why I'm terrified of the next step...)

This will be my Agent Hat one day
Agent in Training: Having shed my intern hat, I got to don a more serious, important, worldly, ginormous hat with a big plume stuck in the top (think Abe Lincoln meets Captain Barbossa).  As an agent in training, under the supervision of an agent, I get to edit manuscripts for pitching, put together a pitch list of publishers (much like a writer puts together an agent list to query--former fellow intern Katie has a great blog post on this here), pitch publishers, and continue reading queries, partials, and full ms while looking for things I'll want to represent.  Needless to say, it's a lot to juggle.  Soon, I'm sure, I'll get to learn how to soothe the fears of my terrified authors.  I look forward to the day I get to send my first offer of representation (I think I'll send a bouquet of roses with a balloon that says "Baby #1").  We are aiming for three to six months to complete my training, at such a time I will be let loose as a full agent on the world of unsuspecting writers (apologies in advance), with, of course, more supervision until I have proven myself capable (so, what, another ten years I can put on the big boy pants?).

I'll keep you updated on my life as a know-nothing wanna-be agent.  Until then, I hope you writers out there keep plugging away and take all the advice you learn on the blogs (of much more experienced agents of course) to heart, so one day I can represent you!

So, as always, happy writing!


Simon B said...

Great to hear the back story, Vickie. Good luck with the rest of the journey, and as your genres seem to dovetail exactly with my writing, I may well be querying you in the future!

Karen Baldwin said...

Will definitely be checking your blog out. Great first post.

Amy Tripp said...

I loved the inside peek at the industry - I can just imagine a new intern reading queries and thinking that most everything deserved another look. I bet you read some horrific partials! But it's all worth it, I would think, when you find the masterpiece.

Good luck on your next step, I'll be reading and watching (and maybe querying someday).

Anonymous said...

What kind of hat does a full agent get? It must be exciting to get to delve even deeper into the agency! Thanks for the shout out!