One of the questions I receive
most often from writers is “What is a typical day in the life of an
agent?” There’s no such thing as a typical day, but if you want the
short answer, my job can be thought of in terms of these five areas:
Representing the author’s interest in business matters; being available
for questions and concerns; mediating communications between author and
publisher as needed.
Matching authors with the right publishers; negotiating contracts.
Offering editing advice on proposals and sometimes manuscripts; being a
sounding board for new ideas.
Career counselor and
marketing consultant: Helping authors strategize long-term
plans for success; providing guidance in marketing and platform
Finding new authors to represent.
Want the longer answer?
Here’s an exclusive inside peek
at an actual day in this agent’s life.*
(*Okay, not an “actual”
day—it’s slightly exaggerated. And in case you don’t pick up on this,
the names are fictionalized.)
5:00: Wake up
without an alarm. Begin daily coffee infusion.
Log on to computer, check blog comments, begin returning e-mails to
clients, potential clients, and editors.
Research publishers for Sam Suspense’s project; compile list of editors
to whom I will submit.
Wake the kids. Start laundry. Continue coffee infusion.
Review a publishing contract for Rita Romance and make notes for
Finish a pitch letter for Sam Suspense’s book that I plan to submit to
publishers today. Send to my colleague Greg (name not fictionalized!)
Go for a run. Shower and dress. Take the kids to VBS. Return to the
office . . . with coffee.
Read e-mail about publisher’s new title for Morty Memoir’s book. Call
client to discuss, then send response to publisher.
Return Maria Marriage’s call; spend twenty-five minutes discussing
branding, platform, and long-term plan.
has come in on Helen Historical’s book.
Yipee! Call author to discuss, then send response to publisher.
Begin working on Betty Biblestudy’s proposal, preparing it for
to discuss revisions with client.
Realize I never ate breakfast. Grab a granola bar. And coffee.
Call hubby to remind him it’s his night to make dinner.
Check e-mail, incorporate Greg’s input on Sam Suspenses’s pitch
letter. Send the pitch letter with the proposal to ten carefully chosen
editors. Pray for God’s blessing on the project.
Spend fifteen minutes on correspondence.
Take lunch break. Read a new partial, love it, stop eating to
e-mail the writer and ask for full manuscript. Return to eating. Read Publishers
Weekly. Talk to my kids, who have returned from VBS excited
to tell me about it.
Phone a publisher, leave voice mail about contract negotiations
for Rita Romance. Begin to feel that post-lunch malaise. Too much
caffeine. Go for a quick walk.
Head out for a publisher meeting, where we discuss marketing
plans for Morty
Back in the office, return e-mails. Take a call from Debbie
Devotional, who has
questions about the submission process.
Publisher for Maria Marriage has e-mailed a PDF of their proposed
book cover and it’s totally wrong for the book. Call Maria immediately
. . . she agrees.
E-mail the publisher with suggestions and rationale for improvements.
Phone Barry Bestseller to confirm our visit to his publisher
tomorrow, where he’ll
speak at their sales conference and record a marketing video for his
An editor calls and we talk about Sam Suspense’s project.
Meanwhile three more e-mails come in. Finish call, respond to e-mails.
Walk outside to check snail mail. No checks—bummer. But a movie
from Blockbuster. Yay!
Begin reading and responding to queries. Become captured by a new
proposal. E-mail the author.
Eeek! Lost track of time! Dinner! Hang with the family.
Kids are back outside playing. Check in with the blog. Work on
Sit down with Yolanda YA’s manuscript on my Kindle.
Get the kids to bed.
Continue reading Yolanda YA’s manuscript until I fall asleep on
10:15: Hubby shakes me awake. Have moment of panic . . . did I get
everything done? Did I write my blog post for tomorrow? Is American
Idol on tonight? When will I watch that movie? Do we have