Tuesday, 1 January 2013
What I Gained from Having Coffee with a Literary Agent
On Thursday, December 19, I travelled into Toronto to meet up with literary agent Ali MacDonald, whom I previously met at the “New York Comes to Niagara” Algonkian Conference in October 2011. We spent some time catching up; Ali asked about the book I had been trying to sell at the conference (Beyond Reason), and when I told her that one of my beta readers had suggested the book might make a good young adult (YA) read, Ali perked right up and asked me to send it to her.
Ali is the children’s and YA agent at The Rights Factory. She began her career as a literary agent as an intern at the same company and, in her own words, “just never left.” Her job takes her around the world: to New York, London, Frankfurt, and Bologna for book festivals. During our chat, she talked about The Rights Factory agents as a family, explaining that they actually rent the same apartment every year for the Frankfurt Book Fair, and now share an apartment in New York as well. I can only imagine what it would be like to be a part of such a work community!
She also talked about other jobs in publishing. For instance, as in the sporting industry, publishing has scouts. These are people who work for publishers, read books, and report back to the publishers about which authors are going to be big. Sounds like a dream job to me! Alternatively, with my legal education almost complete, there might be opportunities in the contracts department of a publisher. While big Canadian publishers don’t have in-house lawyers to handle the legal aspects of printing (but instead keep big firms on retainer), there are people in charge of contracts on a smaller scale. There are also in-house lawyers in the US and UK, though (if I decided to go that route) I’d need to look into dual citizenships or work visas.
Ali gave me a lot to think about as my graduation from law school looms (six months left!) and an articling position remains elusive. Whatever happens in 2013, I’m going to keep writing. I just hit “send” on an email to Ali, to which I’ve attached Beyond Reason. Never having received a response from an agent regarding this book, I’m feeling a little like a parent shipping their first-born off to school: nervous, but excited, too. I can’t wait to hear what she thinks! I’ll let you know if and when I hear back!
All the best to everyone in this new year! Here’s hoping it's full of good health, happiness, and great books!