Monday, February 23, 2015

A typical day or why agents drink

I know that I have to get better about my time management (evidenced by the fact that I’m writing this blog post instead of continuing to check off items in my daily to-do list) but I think it's important to note that a day in the life of a literary agent is long and sometimes difficult to manage. I've made posts about "my day in the life" before but it doesn't hurt to reiterate, right?

On a typical day, my work hours are 14-16 hours long and consist of so much “brain work” that I often need a nap around 4 PM. (Much like a toddler or a Golden Girl.) So, what do these 14-6 hours consist of, you ask?

Email:
3-4 hours are usually spent replying to, composing and forwarding emails
  • emails from clients (sounding a lot like “are we there yet”)
  • emails to clients (royalty summaries, editorial letters, marketing/promo ideas, what are you working on next)
  • emails about clients (buzz-building)
  • emails to editors (proposals, negotiations, general “how-do-you-do” stuff)
  • emails from editors (replies to proposals, negotiations, editorial letters, invitation to local bars to drown our sorrows)
  • emails about editors (who’s looking for what, moving to another line, out on maternity/paternity leave, where the editors are meeting for a drink to our drown our sorrows)
  • emails to staff (pub crawl?)
  • emails from staff (raising glasses)
  • emails about puppies, cats (we generally tweet about our staff cause they’re awesome and we like to talk about ourselves)
Word/Excel/PowerPoint Documents:
 3-4 hours are usually spent drafting, editing and formatting office documents
  • documents from clients (proposals must be read, and re-read, and made to bleed)
  • documents to clients (said proposals covered in notes and the blood of a thousand dashed hopes)
  • documents about clients (press releases don’t write themselves and royalty statements don’t correct themselves either)
  • documents from editors (cover proposals for books on spec are a particular joy)
  • documents to editors (proposals don’t write themselves)
  • documents about editors (updating lists daily sometimes)
  • documents to staff (begging for document writers)
  • documents from staff (reminding us that interns should be allowed bathroom breaks)
  • documents about staff (gotta let the whole world know we’re awesome and we like to talk about ourselves)
Contract/Negotiations:
 2-3 hours can be spent on one contract and negotiations per day
  • read contract
  • make contract bleed
  • write email outlining negotiation points (see email section above)
  • compare contract offers
  • prepare offers for a client
  • research market to make sure contract terms are not outdated
  • review previous contracts when trying to determine out-of-print dates
  • go over the contract(s) with the client
  • curse, bang head on desk, play videos of cute cats or dogs on youtube when a negotiation gets difficult
Social Media/Website Interaction
 2-3 hours can be spent updating agency website and social media sites per day
  • come across a cover reveal your client forgot to tell you about while reading newsfeed looking for insightful information to post on FB page
  • upload said cover to agency FB page, website and agent blog
  • reply to tweets, FB comments and tumblr notes
  • schedule posts for social media to appear while you’re sleeping for two hours
  • like, comment and friend client social media sites
  • add reviews and books to “my-clients” bookshelf on goodreads
  • pin links to client books on agent’s pinterest page
  • post a funny moment on tumblr to keep your sanity after reading inane comments on social media
  • watch a baby giggling youtube video to remind yourself that you’re still human
Telephone/Skype/IM:
2-3 hours per day can be spent talking with people
  • IM chats with clients
  • phone calls with clients, editors, staff
  • skype/google hangout/gotomeeting conferences with staff, editors, clients, sub rights editors, translators, marketing teams
Reading (and drinking):
3-4 hours are spent staring at a screen or book
  • reading manuscripts, proposals, synopses
  • reading proposals by junior agents, interns, etc.
  • reading digital ARC (hopefully before release day to catch any typos)
  • reading queries (while drinking heavily)

And at some point, we spend time with our family so they can remember what we look like, shower, eat and step outside to get some Vitamin D if we’re not popping multi-vitamins with No-Doze and gallons of coffee. So when your agent takes a few days longer to reply than you expected approach emailing them with caution and offer up a pot of coffee in reverence.