Friday, October 17, 2014

A View From the Assistant’s Desk

I first wrote this post for the Wordserve Watercooler, the blog of Wordserve Literary Agency, where I work as an administrative assistant to Greg Johnson. I thought the readers here on the Alley would also enjoy a view from my small desk in the publishing world. If you have any questions about life inside a literary agency, leave a comment below. I'm happy to provide any insight I don't have. ;-))

Working for a highly respected literary agency is not quite all it’s expected to be.

Some things I wasn’t fully expecting:

It’s a lot of emails. A lot.

It’s a lot of report filing.

Spreadsheet document, and, oh spreadsheet documentation.

I am far from bored since I started working for WordserveLiterary and frankly, I wouldn’t want it any other way!

So what I do I see from my small desk in the publishing world?

·         Self-help books are really in. True, our agency has a felt-need and a niche in this market to pitch to the nonfiction sector, but it continues to surprise me how many marriage, parenting, general life/encouragement/devotional books continue to come through our office doors.
·         Book deals really aren’t that awesome. While this didn’t surprise me, as a writer myself, I’ve always wanted to know what dollar amount writers were always bemoaning. Makes me that much more grateful for the novels I consume on a regular basis and the authors that continue to write them.
·         Social media is huge. Something I already knew, but a platform is so incredibly vital to a writer. It’s the main reason Greg started FaithHappenings.com. Writers with a great story and no platform are getting passed right on by without that audience to market to.
·         Self-publishing is becoming more and more the normal. Writers who can’t get a deal for their greatest new book, or who don’t want to wait a year or longer for readers to have their next content, are pushing the “send now” button into the great wide world of Indie publishing. It’s the not the same as it used to be years ago. Indie is becoming a good opportunity to take advantage of with new cover options, quality printing companies and more opportunities out there to publish a good product. Self-publishing is walking away, though slowly, from the stigmatism of poor quality material.

Publishing is a swiftly changing monster. But I don’t need to tell you this. Even if you are not published, the reality is that you can’t be a book lover and not notice that things are always changing. Publishers are trying to find new ways to get their book in front of your attention—and are buying less content. Authors are pounding the pavement harder. Literary agents are pitching the right book to the right house and still hearing no, for seemingly no reason other than, “it’s not the right fit for our house.”

Does that make publishing a discouraging business to be in? Well, maybe, if you only look at the negatives of the business. But with changes, comes opportunities to rise to the occasion and come out on top with a great idea. A great book. The opportunity to impact lives with your words on the page. Because whether 
publishers are buying or not, a great book is still a great book. And passion for story can’t quell that. Ever.

The gift of a literary agency is the team behind you, believing in this product. It’s not just you. It never has to be just you. So even when the wait seems long and the emails slow in coming, we are behind you. Fighting for this book.

Keep on writing.



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Casey Herringshaw is a homeschool graduate and has been writing since high school. She is a country girl now living in a metropolis of Denver, Colorado

8 comments:

Southpaw HR Sinclair said...

Great insight, thanks.

Casey said...

Thanks for stopping by!

Fortuna O. Smith said...

Great post! When I first graduated college a few years ago, I really wanted to work for a literary agency. It never worked out, but it's great to see some insight to that world! Thanks for sharing.

Henya said...

Casey, you have no idea how you impacted me with this post. Well written. Not too negative. Not too positive. No promises. Just that: a good perspective on reality. Thanks you!

Kelly Blackwell @ Heres My Take On It said...

What a wonderful post, Casey. Thank you so very much!

Casey said...

Fortuna, I honestly never thought I would be in the job that I am. It's amazing how God provides and moves in the direction of our dreams. You never know!

Casey said...

Henya, I am SO glad! I love how God does that with our words just at the right time. Glad it was encouraging for you.

Casey said...

Thank you for coming by, Kelly!