If you love books, writing and reading; a job at a literary agency may be a great fit for you. But what exactly does a literary agency do and what is the role of the assistant?
You may have the impression that all agency employees do is lie around reading manuscripts hoping to find a talented new writer with a book or screenplay that’s going to change the face of the cultural world.
But the truth is, the job requires a whole host of skills which you’re required to juggle on a minute by minute basis. Finding the next big thing is only a small part of what a literary agency does.
Time for the Jack of All Trades Hat
As literary agencies are often very small, much of your time as an assistant, will be taken up by the small tasks to keep the office ticking over. This will include general administration duties, maintaining databases, updating the website and social media channels, and liaising with publishers, film and television companies regarding your clients’ needs.
This may include chasing royalty payments or ironing out the finer details of their book launch party or film screening.
Get your Maths Hat on
As literary agents broker deals to get the author or screenwriter their big break, you will assist on the drafting of contracts and help negotiate royalty rates and payment schedules. You will need to pay great attention to detail and be thorough and methodical in these tasks.
These skills will also benefit you when companies come calling to use your clients’ work in different mediums. This is known as granting permission. For instance, a website may wish to print an extract from your client’s latest novel or use their photograph and biography in an anthology. You will need to negotiate the best possible fee and terms for your client.
Time for the Creative Hat
This area of the job allows you to showcase your creative talents and may include writing blurbs and biographies for your clients as well as producing material to showcase your company and what it has to offer publishers and film/television companies.
Much of this work will be built around the big industry fairs and festivals – for example, Frankfurt and London Book Fairs, Cannes Film Festival, and the London Film Festival. You may also get the chance to travel to these events and enjoy the odd glamorous dinner here and there!
Reading, reading and more reading...
In this industry, you can never leave your job at the office. Your reading tower of books and manuscripts will be never ending. Literary agencies are inundated with hundreds of unsolicited manuscripts every week. The reading alone could be a full time job but you need to do this on top of all the usual day-to-day workload.
You’ve really got to love reading as you’ll be doing it even while you eat and sleep! But finding that next big thing will be so rewarding…
Check out the latest publishing and journalism internships to get your career off the ground.