When I was younger, I wanted to be a lot of things: a doctor, an author, a journalist, a columnist, an event planner, and now I’ve finally settled on becoming a literary agent and author. Those are just the jobs I wanted that I can remember after so long. I am also fortunate enough to be a current intern at a prestigious literary agency, Writers House, and to have formerly interned at another incredible agency, Ayesha Pande Literary. These opportunities only further cemented my desire to get into pursuing a career as a Literary Agent or in the Foreign Rights department of a literary agency.
How did I realize I wanted to be a literary agent? When I attended the Columbia Publishing Course(CPC), I got to hear lectures from some famous publishing professionals and imagine myself in each department. One of the lectures that really caught my attention featured a panel of literary agents, a job I had never heard of before. There were so many of them and they all seemed to have crossed paths with one another. Some worked for smaller agencies while others worked for the more well-known agencies like ICM. Hearing the agents talk about their passion for the job and how their responsibilities to the author included being an editor, a therapist, and a cheerleader. It all sounded like what I wanted to be doing.
What do literary agents do? Literary agents work closely with their clients/authors as they develop their work and are the first step in the revising process. Once those revisions are complete, they write pitch letters to editors at various publishing houses to find someone who wants to purchase the book for publication! After that, the literary agent works as the authors advocate making sure that they understand what the next steps are, that the money is handled according to the contract, all that fun stuff. For example, Jodi Reamer is Stephenie Meyer’s literary agent. TWILIGHT was submitted like millions of other manuscripts are a day, an intern was assigned to read it and decided that it had potential. It was passed along, Jodi read it, and e-mailed Stephenie offering to represent her as an agent. From there, Jodi and her team worked tirelessly to edit TWILIGHT until it was ready to be pitched to publishing houses. Some probably turned it down (regrettably now) but eventually Little, Brown and Company bought it. After that, TWILIGHT skyrocketed and eventually Jodi had film rights, translation rights, audio rights and the whole series. Now, Stephenie remains a client of Jodi’s so they work on all of Stephenie’s projects together and Jodi continues to take on new clients and represent other well-known authors like John Green and Ransom Riggs. [This is as concisely as I can begin to describe the field so forgive me, if it’s still vague.]
If you could become a literary agent instantly, what books would you like to represent? Honestly, there are so many types of books that I would want to represent so here goes: YA and MG fiction/nonfiction, Suspense novels in the vein of Gone Girl and The Girl On The Train, Memoirs/Biographies about overcoming adversity, Fiction and nonfiction novels about mental health, survival, passion, Stories featuring diversity and/or a strong female lead, Titles heavily rooted in family, friends, plot twists and the varying forms of love. These are all over the place but over time, you come to learn what you love and I’m sure this list will continuously evolve.
Do you think this is the job that you will do for the rest of your life? I would like to think so. I love books, I love the publishing industry, I have interned in the field and still love it as much as I did the first time I learned about it, if not more. I’d like to say I would do this forever but who knows? I could always end up doing something completely different like screenwriting or maybe just keep my love for books to book reviews. The possibilities are endless but I am happy pursuing this now and we’ll see what happens next.