A Day in the Life of a Literary Agent
When I decided to find out a little more about what agents do, I discovered incredibly hard-working people, who love the written word. A literary agent's best day is when they discover a new author (yes, a debut author), and get excited about helping to bring another book into the world.
Literary agents do not get paid unless you, the author make money. That is a definite motivator to work! In other words, an agent needs to help your book sell, and encourage a successful career for you in order to keep their office lights on. And their percentage is not that large, considering all the work they do.
As agent Rachelle Gardner points out, agents' tasks can be divided up into four general categories: keeping track of contracts and payments, submitting projects to publishers, other client-related work, and finding new clients. Rachelle explains each of these in her blog post.
An agent needs to be a person comfortable with multitasking. They jump from phone calls to emails to face-to-face meetings. They comb through the indecipherable legal language of contracts, making sure it is favorable to the author. And with all the added complications of e-rights, this is a formidable task!
The different jobs agents do consume more than the average workday. But there is little time for agents to read the dozens-to-hundreds of queries they get each day. An agent often reads some on the way home (if they commute), and may spend a few hours on queries in the evenings, as well. And this doesn't even include the time and money they spend attending writing conferences.
Each agent handles the multitude of tasks differently. Here are a few other agents who share a little of what their day is like:
The Rejectionist (a hysterical glimpse into the life of an agent)
Two agents at Bookends share what it takes to be an agent.
The ins and outs of negotiating contracts with Rachel Zurakowski.
Two very different days described by Annette Green and Lucienne Diver.