This summer, I worked as an intern for a literary agency. So basically, I spent the whole summer reading, writing, and editing.
And it was awesome.
- Working for some stellar agents and chatting with them about the publishing world
- Reading some truly phenomenal manuscripts and (squee!) offering up suggestions
- Learning about a few fab new authors (and increasing my To Be Read pile of books)
- Improving my eye for queries
Q: How’d you end up at a literary agency?
A: Bookjobs.com! While I was studying abroad in Florence, I emailed a number of agencies I found on the site. I was familiar with most of them (since they repped authors I loved). After reviewing my application, the various agencies sent me some sample material to look over to test my eye for editing. I was totally in love with the Laura Dail Literary Agency, so the second they offered me a position, I took it!
Q: Did you just sit at a slush pile all day?
A: Heavens, no! Though I did look at some slush, I also read through a number of awesome manuscripts from their existing clients. That was a blast, and I can’t wait to see those books on the shelves.
Q: So… is my slush-pile query just gonna get brushed off by an intern who doesn’t recognize its awesome literary potential?
A: No. First of all, I’d like to think I have at least a decent eye for what stories might have potential. But second, agents know better than to let some brand new intern toss your awesome query in the trash! Rest assured, if you put in the work, your query will find its way to an agent. Even if it comes from slush.
Q: Was there anything that made certain queries leave a negative impression on you?
A: A well-researched query is so important. Make sure you know what genre your manuscript is, and sub to agents who represent that type of story. Also, especially for first novels, try to keep your word count reasonable. I definitely balked at a few 400K (yes, I’m serious) manuscripts. And remember to be professional. Treat the agents kindly—they’re lovely people!
Q: Did working at a literary agency change anything about your writing?
A: Definitely. I saw such a wide spectrum of material and some massively talented authors. It was crazy inspirational. I also got a better picture of just how hard-working folks in the publishing industry are (from the writers to the agents to the editors). These people work their butts off. The summer also made me a better editor, which has been super helpful in my own writing.
Let me know if you’re interested in interning at an agency—I’d be happy to answer some questions. I had a blast and would highly recommend it for any young readers/writers out there.
BEYOND excited to announce that I’m a 2016 Pitch Wars mentee! Even as I was getting requests from mentors, I was so convinced I wasn’t gonna make it. There are some awesome stories floating around this year.
I was abso-freaking-lutely delighted to be see that I’d been chosen by the wonderful Chelsea Bobulski! I can’t wait to work with her to make my manuscript shiny as can be 🙂
Hi! My name is Kristyn. I found this post while stumbling around trying to figure out what my plans for after college are going to be. I’m hoping to intern at a house or agency and was hoping you offer me some guidance. Thank you!
Hey Kristyn! That’s awesome–happy to help however I can! I loved my internship 🙂