And that you may be without a mate until you find me…

3 Oct

Replace ‘mate’ with ‘literary agent’ and you’ll have a better understanding of my meaning. I am seeking my perfect partner, a partnership that will be brimming over the top with: mutual respect, ample layers of thick skin, and an unceasing well of creative talents. The idealized partnership of an author and their agent. A lucrative undertaking for both parties. This is the dream of all agents. This is my dream. And it is a somewhat new dream. I am what you can refer to as a novice agent. My career as a literary agent began a mere three months ago. After an intensive internship at a literary agency in Toronto, I was hired on as an Associate. In a fateful turn of events, I went from being a voracious reader of literary fiction to a literary agent in hot pursuit of literary fiction writers. I knew my task at hand was going to be difficult, but my god, no one told me it was going to be this difficult. Naively, I started off my career with the intent to work solely with writers of that genre. It did not take me long (a matter of weeks really) to come to the painstaking revelation that a) writers of that genre, and I mean talented and successful writers of that genre, are truly a diamond in the rough  and b) there is no money (and I mean absolutely none) to be made in working with those authors, unless of course I discover the next Michael Ondaatje or William Trevor etc. Not to imply that it is strictly about the money. Even if it meant very little money for me, I would be thrilled to represent new talent, and see them published, just so that their work could reach its intended audience. This is obviously what motivates me, and inspires me to work in this field. Otherwise, what would be the point in taking on this line of work? Novice, or not, as an agent I can honestly state that this job has never been, and never will be, about the money. Nevertheless, us literary agents do need to feed and clothe ourselves. To some extent anyway. And so I will continue to strive to discover that diamond in the rough. In the meantime, I am also content to broaden my literary horizons, and am seeking writers of: fiction, memoirs, crime, mystery, creative non-fiction and nearly everything else under the sun. Except poetry. Poets need not apply.

Bringing this first entry to a close, I will say this: Although being an agent  is hard work (often times the end result of all of your hard work is devastatingly frustrating and demoralizing), it is still a very rewarding and exciting career. For, oh-so-many reasons, I love what I do. The fact is, most of my days are spent reading. To some people, this may sound dreadful, but to a voracious reader it is a dream come true. Not only do I get to read, I also am the procurer of new talent. I get to represent and promote new talent to the publishing world. In the event that one of my submissions translates into a deal, I will have played a pivotal role in introducing a new work of literature to the reading population. Completely brilliant, and not to mention the fact that it would validate all of the hard work that goes into a submission. Being a great agent isn’t just about one’s working relationships with the authors and publishers, nor is it just about one’s editorial skills, it is about possessing the knack to recognize a work of literature that is not only great, but marketable. This is a skill that takes time to hone. I can only hope that over time I will master this. My authors will thank me. The editors will thank me. And here’s hoping that I will then know that I have made the right career choice.


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