How Do You Become a Literary Agent?

How Do You Become a Literary Agent? Believe it or not, I get emails regularly from people who want to become literary agents, and they want advice on how to do it. Typically, the people who send these emails are either right out of college or they’re looking for a career change, and they have no experience in the actual workings of publishing. It’s hard to answer these letters without sounding completely discouraging, but here’s the truth: If you haven’t already spent years working in the publishing industry… if you don’t already have a solid understanding of where this industry has been and where it’s going… now may not be the best time to try and break in, especially as a literary agent. At this moment in time, agents have no long-term job security. (Of course, people in...
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How I Became an Agent

Recently on the blog, Kelsey Sutton asked… I’d like to know why and how you began your career as an agent. Would you change any of your choices? Best and worst aspects of your job?Since many people express an interest in becoming an agent and ask me how to do it, I thought I’d explain my own journey. Most people work in publishing for years before they become an agent. A few people start off at a literary agency, working their way up from intern to assistant to junior agent, etc. But most start in some kind of publishing house capacity, working with authors and books either in editorial or marketing. In 2007, I was running a freelance editing and writing business, having been in publishing for more than a dozen years, and previously working at two publishing houses in...
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How Do You Become an Agent or Editor?

Believe it or not, I occasionally get emails from people who are interested in becoming a literary agent. (Don’t laugh, I’m not making this up.) Why anyone would want to join the ranks of the hated and maligned poor stepchildren of the literary world, I don’t know. Maybe the same reason some people become lawyers. Or contractors. People also write to me of their dreams of becoming an editor, either in a publishing house or a freelancer. So I’ll address them all here. (Previously I wrote in detail about the qualifications one should have to become an agent.) The first thing you need to realize is that… (drum roll please)… Publishing is changing. Right. As if we haven’t heard that enough already. But what it will mean is that the availability of...
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How Do You Become an Agent?

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_5cLmD8GqnKY/Sh4PJKBOJ-I/AAAAAAAAC-c/eXQfkiD8WKs/s400/degree.jpg A whole bunch of people have asked me this question recently. I can’t figure out if it’s because they are interested in becoming an agent… or because they can’t figure out how the heck I became one. I suppose it could just be curiosity, and I think it’s valid. It makes sense that, as a writer, you’d want to know that these strange creatures who call themselves the “A” word and seem to have so much influence on your writing career are actually qualified to do so. The bad news is that there is no guarantee of that. There is no licensing board, there are no industry-wide certifications, no standard agreed-upon set of criteria that qualifies one to be a literary agent (or author’s representative, as we are more formally known). There is no...
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