Friday, September 16, 2011

From the Trenches: Taryn - Taking Advantage

I've had a lot of people ask me how I've gotten my internship at a literary agency, so I figured I'd answer that here. If you're reading Write On! it's likely that you want to be involved in the publishing world, whether as a writer, or an editor, or a librarian, or something else book-related. You probably know what an agent does (if you don't, an agent acquires authors as clients and shops their novels to editors at publishing houses who are probably otherwise closed to submissions). You probably think it's really cool to get to read books all the time.

(Note: that's totally not all we do. Well, it's all I do, but it's not all Agent Lady does.)

So! My story!

I basically prostituted myself.

Whenever I saw an opportunity to speak with an agent, I jumped on it. I hammered in the point that "I'M A TEEN, if you take me on AS A TEEN, I will be valuable AS A TEEN in the area of TEEN fiction that you work with, and did I mention I'M A TEEN?"

Because, ya know, all teens are really experienced in publishing and editing and critical reading. *rolls eyes*

But my babbling started to pay off this past summer. I learned that a prominent romance agent had kids who swam in the same area as me, and we chatted at a swim meet. He showed me some things about the business, and allowed me to use him as a reference. Then I learned a woman I worked with had a mother who is a non-fiction agent, and again we chatted. She had much the same reaction as the last agent.

Suddenly I had experience and names to drop.

So, when I met Agent Lady at a conference this past summer, I was comfortable with her. And when she called for an intern, I showed interest. Next thing I knew, she was sending me some "test" manuscripts, and I was in heaven.

She liked me. I liked her. And sometimes that's all it takes.

Take-away Tips:
-Put yourself out there.
-Don't be scared to use your advantages (like your age).
-Spend a lot of time reading and figuring out specifically what you did and didn't like about that book.
-Cultivate relationships, even if they aren't exactly what you want to do.
-Stalk people.
-Learn a lot about the agent looking for an intern before you apply, because a lot of it is whether your tastest match to his/her.

You Tell Me:
-Do you want to work in publishing? Why or why not?
-Do you have any questions about agents you want me to answer?
-Have you ever prostituted yourself?


  1. Wow, this is really interesting, Taryn. I've been wondering how you became an intern myself and now I know. :) Thanks for sharing and congrats (belatedly, but still).

    And LOL at the crossed-out line. I'm already doing that for college applications. ._.

  2. Interesting. :)

    I'm going to be a writer... But I have no idea what additional job I'm going to get to financially support myself. -_-

    I like editing/critiquing... Yours sounds like an awesome job. :] Maybe it's one of those things I'll have to look into.

    And Lyla? I feel your pain on the college applications thing. T-T

  3. "Stalk people." Well, yeah. We all know that's a VERY IMPORTANT SKILL, right? =D

    Have I mentioned how proud I am of you? And that I believe you're going to do big things? It's true.

    Thanks for sharing this! xoxo

  4. I want to write. Being an agent/editor/anything-else-in-the-publishing-world sounds not so much.

    Besides, that whole talking to people thing? Sounds terrifying. O_O