Monday, October 23, 2017

Agent's Little Helpers

Hi, everyone, meet my interns!  I have three fabulous ladies helping me out and, this week, thought it would be fun to learn a little bit about them and hear what it is like working for me.  I have a lot of interns helping me out, which is sort of cheating, but they are A++++ amazing!

                                                                                   Bea                                                     Rosiee
Tarie

So guys, tell us a bit about yourselves!
Bea: *Waves* I am currently chasing publication and Gothic atmosphere while querying a YA Victorian Mystery. When I am not writing (which is never), I am a Junior at Emory University in Atlanta, studying History and English. Professionally, other than my work for Carrie, I am the Editorial Assistant for the Internet Shakespeare Editions' academic journal "Scene."

Rosiee: I am a GED advisor by day, and a YA science fiction writer by... also day, cause I get tired early and nighttime is hard. I love nothing more than a good book and a hot cup of coffee--but don't tell my doggo, or she'll be jealous. I'm currently pursuing publication with my agent, Saba Sulaiman, and coming up, I'll be mentoring in Author Mentor Match (submit to meeee).

Tarie: My name is Tarie Sabido and I’m a professional fangirl in the Philippines. My fandoms are children’s and YA books, Asian beauty products, and K-pop!

My passion for books has led me to blogging at Asia in the Heart, World on the Mind; organizing the Filipino ReaderCon and Filipino Readers’ Choice Awards with my friends; and serving as Chair of the Philippine Board on Books for Young People

What made you want to work as an agent intern?
Bea: I learned about this position through the #MenteesHelpingMentees program from my mentor Dianne Freeman (who learned about it through a mutual #PitchWars mentee). What I am saying is Twitter can be amazing for making connections and networking!! For the past two years or so I have been in the querying trenches (well I took a nine-month break and I am jumping back in soon), and I really wanted to learn more about the behind the scenes. As a college student with graduation looming on the horizon, I am at a pivotal moment in my life where I can explore careers/life paths. I have always been drawn to publishing and editorial endeavors, and I thought learning the inside scoop on the publishing world would not only help my writing but perhaps open new doors.

Rosiee: I 've always been curious about what goes on behind the scenes at an agency. I've been in the query trenches, and so much of what agents do is a mystery--Even after signing with my agent I still don't know half of what an agent does! I wanted a little experience on the other side of things to get a better handle on how everything works. Plus, I just really really like reading slush. Like a lot. I swear I'm not being facetious. I actually really enjoy it!

Tarie: I want to be an agent! I’d love to scout for, nurture, and promote children’s and YA writers and illustrators in Asia.

What kinds of things have you learned about during your internship?
Bea: First and foremost, I have a way better understanding of just how slow this industry is—everyone is waiting: not just the writers, but published authors, agents, editors, and even me (the lowly agent intern 😉). Also, EVERYONE gets rejected all the way up to editors and agents—keep on keeping on! As a writer, it’s been helpful to see what other writers are doing in my genre (YA Historical Fiction), and to learn more about marketability.

Rosiee: Carrie has been so great about giving me the opportunity to learn about a variety of things. I get to read the slush (yay!), but I've also learned about agent-editor relationships, how submitting to publishers works, and how to spot potential in submissions. I'm even starting to get an idea of how contracts work--which is both terrifying and also really cool!

Tarie: As an intern, I am learning about evaluating manuscripts; communicating with authors and editors; publishing contracts and how they are negotiated; and tracking advance payments, royalties, sub-rights, etc.

What do you do for Carrie?
Bea: For Carrie, I read the slush pile, requested material, write reader reports, work on organizing her Full Rights Guide, blog issues, and anything else she might need me to do. Carrie gives us a lot of freedom and control over how we want our internship experience to look like.

Rosiee: Mostly I read slush and requested material, and give Carrie my opinion on submissions. I send on what I think she'll like, and give detailed reports on requested partials and fulls so she has a better idea of whether or not she's interested. I also help keep track of submitted work on many many color coded spreadsheets (which, I promise, I also unironically love!)

Tarie: Right now I’m helping one of Carrie’s authors expand and engage with her social media community. I’m enjoying getting to know the author and brainstorming with her!

What is your favorite thing that you've done as an intern so far?  You're least favorite?
Bea: My favorite thing is when I get to tell you to request more of a manuscript or consider representing the author! It makes me really happy for other aspiring authors! My least favorite is when I am reading the slush pile and a manuscript has an amazing premise but is executed poorly, or when a manuscript has a "meh/overdone" premise, but the writing is up to chops. For me, it's so sad because it'll be that much harder for the writer to figure out what to change, especially since we normally reject them in the querying phase. 

Rosiee: My favorite moment by far has been reading a manuscript I loved and suggesting Carrie request the full. When the full manuscript came in, Bea (my co-intern) and I were so excited, we didn't turn off caps lock for about 15 minutes. 

My least favorite is the exact opposite--it's really tough when I don't connect with a MS, especially when it has a concept I love. I wish I loved every book that crosses my digital desk, and saying no to those is hard.

Tarie: I like everything! But my favorite project so far is organizing submissions lists. It’s taught me a lot about how agents pitch to editors, what editors are looking for, and how a deal is made!

Any insight into how Carrie's mind works? 😉
Bea: I would say Carrie’s tastes run more commercial than literary in general. She’s avidly looking for cozy mysteries and YA to add her list. Carrie loves YA Fantasy, but it’s a hard sell to her unless it’s really special and has a unique twist—the market is a little saturated at the moment. If you want to send a memoir, PLEASE, please, please do as much research as you can to find out what she’s interested in. More often than not, I have to reject memoirs because they don’t fit her list not because they’re “bad.” As an agent, Carrie is blunt and honest in her feedback—she’s always aiming for ways to make a work more marketable and the characters more authentic. She likes writing that can evoke emotion, plot, and character without being overwhelmed by overtelling or overwritten language.

Rosiee: Carrie's very picky! She's a busy lady who knows what she likes in a book. Even if one of us likes something and sends it on, it's no guarantee she'll agree. She has to have a lot of faith in a project concept to even request pages, and from what I've seen, she really believes in helping those authors develop great books that she'll hopefully one day be able to sign.

Tarie: I’ve noticed how patient and positive Carrie is with everything and everyone. And her enthusiasm for her authors’ works is contagious!

What have you learned/seen about agenting that surprises you most?
Bea: I think I have been most surprised by the volume of material an agent has to sift through. Some of it has been so bad it’s made me laugh out loud and some of it could truly be the NEXT BIG THING. Not only that but there’s so much Carrie has to do in one day besides finding new material, but helping her clients, living her own life, and staying up to date on the market by reading published books. It’s multi-tasking to the max.

Rosiee: How much work there is to do other than reading submissions. I remember back in the query trenches when people who certainly weren't me--I would never ;)--complained about wait times on hearing back from agents, it seemed outrageous how long it took to hear back. But realistically, agents have a lot more to do than read queries. They have client manuscripts to read, projects to prepare for submissions, editors to network with, contracts to negotiate, records to update--the list goes on! Agents are incredibly busy--and they work they do is tough and important! It's a miracle they get so much done!

Tarie: I was pleasantly surprised by how organized the agenting system is. I knew it was easy to find out about agents’ tastes and manuscript wish lists. But I didn’t know that agents have rankings (by the number of deals they make in each category/genre), which are regularly updated. And I didn’t know that you can find out things like agents’ typical response times and the best ways to query them. It’s all very helpful for writers! 

Do you envision a career in publishing for yourself?
Bea: Oh, definitely. My dream would be to start a Literary Agency with the other intern I work closely with—Rosiee. However, I’d also like to try my hand at the editorial side of things as well!

Rosiee: Maybe someday! I'm really enjoying the work I do for Carrie and working with my fellow interns and hope to learn more. I'm not sure what a career in publishing looks like for me yet--or I guess which of the many important roles in the process I'd like to someday fill--but for now, being an intern is incredibly rewarding!

Tarie: I definitely want to have a career in publishing!

Anything else you want to share?
Bea: Remember, the people reading your submission are just that—people. Don’t let one "no" deter you, but also be prepared to listen, revise, and evolve as a writer. Take your time—this industry goes at its own pace so it’s best to submit your best work. Start slowly, submit in 10 batches, step back and revise your game plan as necessary. Connect with other writers they will be your best allies and will improve your writing SO much. Remember your story matters and you’re the only one who can tell it best!

P.S. To all the sexist men who submit “complex female characters” to Carrie, STOP, please. They’re not complex because they have bodies like Sophia Loren in a five-foot frame and have been emotionally wrecked by bad love affairs. Also, can’t tell you how many submissions have had incest lately as well, I blame Game of Thrones. Word count is not an end all be all, but make sure you're hitting the range for your genre, 5000 words does not a novel make.
Rosiee: I get to see the whole of Carrie's query folder, and while she gets a lot of great stuff, I'd love to see more diverse submissions/authors in the inbox. If you're a marginalized author, please consider Carrie for your query list! I can never make any promises, but I try to make sure every diverse query gets the attention it deserves and I hope to do my part in boosting voices that need to be heard. Also a big wave to all the authors whose manuscripts I've gotten to read since I started my internship--you're all incredibly talented, and there are a number of you I'm secretly cheering on!

Tarie: This is a remote internship for me and I’m actually a little sad that I can’t do the typical intern things like get coffee for Carrie. [It's okay, Tarie, everyone is remote, so I get my own coffee!]

Tell us any hilarious interning stories that you have, whether while working for Carrie or someone/somewhere else!
Bea:  Hmmmmmm. I really can't think of anything, gah. There's probably something there that I compartmentalized because it was embarrassing. I think some of the really awful queries we get can be hilarious... 

Rosiee: Carrie's a big gifter. She likes sending people things (which is great, cause I love presents!) About a month ago, I got a pack of super nice nail polish in the mail with no note. This isn't the first time I've gotten something with no note--I got a nerf gun about a year ago with no sender, a box of books once, and most interestingly a potato that said "take care of yourself" on it in Sharpie. I'm no stranger to surprise gifts, and so I took to social media to figure out who sent it. No one claimed responsibility though, so I was at a loss until Carrie emailed to let me know to expect a treat--little did she know, I'd already gotten it and had set up an intricate (and color coded!) spreadsheet to discover the culprit. I guess the moral of the story is, it's a good thing I'm a lit agent intern and not a detective.

Tarie: I was once a professor’s assistant and checked student essays for her. One of the students said, “Professor, why is your handwriting different on these essays?” and she just said, “Oh, I was tired.” What?!

13 comments:

  1. I love this. So nice to meet you all:)

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  2. I have "met" Tarie before. Hi, Tarie! Thanks, all of you, for all of the work that you do!

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  3. *slow clap for all of you*
    And Bea's line about sexist men who submit "complex female characters" ugh I remember this so much from my agency intern days. ugh ugh ugh

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    1. Why not simply say she was over the whole "hot mess" thing? I found the comment misandrist. It indicated Bea is naturally inclined against male writers, since she presumably doesn't mind badly-written, allegedly 'complex female characters' if the chromosomes of the author are 'the right ones'.

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    2. I'm sorry you feel that way. Bea isn't naturally against male writers at all--I think she's just making a point that male writers need to be very careful when writing female characters to actually make them complex and three-dimensional rather than stereotypes. I think that whenever we are writing something that isn't own voices or is outside of our perspective, there needs to be a lot of thoughtful consideration about how we approach those characters.

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    3. Thank you for responding, Carrie.
      But Bea did not make a general point about authors thinking carefully when writing beyond their own direct personal experience. She specifically cited 'all the sexist men'. She didn't have to do so; she could have made the general point you've just outlined.
      I remain of the view that she has done this because she specifically dislikes male writers, otherwise she would have invited all authors to think carefully about avoiding stereotypes, cliches and flat characters. I find it hard to believe this bias won't permeate who she 'allows through' to be seen by you: as such, it is a personal opinion that directly affects authors.

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    4. Bea is very well-versed in the kinds of books I am looking for and what I like, and I wholeheartedly disagree with your sentiment that she is biased against male writers. I think that when looking through all of the queries that come in (and there are so many!), you begin to see certain trends that can be either exciting or frustrating, and one of the frustrating ones that may have come up recently in my own submissions is some male writers not taking the time to hone their female characters. If you are male or female writer who has done a terrific job creating nuanced, fascinating characters, my interns will recognize that. They are all excellent at what they do and I am very fortunate to have them!

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    5. I appreciate you supporting your interns, and I'm sure you're grateful for the work they do.
      The fact remains that Bea introduced the gender of authors into something that did not require it. In doing so, she made a gendered and biased comment, and it's difficult to believe this view doesn't permeate what are, at the end of the day, subjective judgements about submissions.
      Put simply, reverse all the genders in Bea's comment and see if you still regard it as not being problematic.
      I presume you experience some female writers not taking the time to hone their male characters? If so, why pick out the male writers when the problem is more widespread?
      Thank you for coming to the thread, Carrie.

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    6. You’re welcome—I’m happy to talk with you about this. Ultimately, the choice to look at more pages or turn something away is a judgement call. Everything in publishing is subjective to some extent, but I think that is different than bias/prejudice. She called out a particular frustration for a specific kind of writing and writer, and I support her in that. I don’t think it means that any of my interns would not recommend a great story written by a man.

      If you reverse her statement, it works just as well—the male character foil that springs to mind is a two-dimensional, handsome bad boy with a dark past who secretly yearns for a woman to bring out his softer side (sorry for
      being cheesy)—it just isn’t something she saw in my inbox or decided to go in-depth about when doing my blog interview.

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    7. But you didn't reverse the comment at all, Carrie. The reverse is:

      To all the sexist women who submit “complex male characters” to Carrie, STOP, please.

      This would then go on to complain that a male character isn't 'complex' just because they've got a body like a Hemsworth and recently had a messy love affair.

      Such a comment would be misogynist: criticising only women writers when the general issue of lame characterisation applies to male and female writers.

      Bea called out a 'particular frustration' that she apparently doesn't have with female writers. I find is risible to suggest that men are routinely writing crap and cliched characters, but women are not. That would imply that chromosomes are a determinant of writing ability, when they clearly are not.

      The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Over five in six of your agency's clients are women, in a nation that is 50/50 men and women. How many of your own clients are male novelists, compared to the number of female novelists? The choice of client is entirely your own, and reflects your own tastes and subjective views.

      The point stands, Carrie. Your intern made a sexist comment where gender was not relevant, and in doing so reflected a bias that will surely have some impact on the queries sent to you, and the queries discarded.

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  4. interns do more than most people will ever realize. you girls are killing it. Thank you!!! so nice to "meet" you guys! <3

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  5. Thank you so much, Carrie! I LOVE working for you.

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  6. I love to hear from the up and coming publishing talent! I know these interns are headed to some great places.

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