Saturday, December 11, 2010

Literary Agency v. Publishing House

A Comparison Between My Roles at the Literary Agency and the Publishing House


Editorial Assistant
Slightly more than nothing
3 days/week 10-5
5 days/week 9-5/6
(I was told by my editors to “leave early while I can…cause it won’t last!)
The joy of helping authors get published.  A stocked candy jar.  Help networking/finding a job. (Thanks again, ladies!)
The joy of seeing a book transform from manuscript to finished novel.  A kitchen with hot chocolate and tea packets. Health benefits. Paid vacation. 401K.  Office supplies.  NYC discounts. Free books.
The office
A small, homey suite with several offices near Penn Station.  Comfy chairs and a ‘special’ red couch.
HUGE 30+ floor office building in Midtown, right outside of Rockefeller Center.  My floor, the 18th, has probably 15-20 offices on the perimeter with a sea of 20-30 cubes in the middle.
My space
A large round table shared with the other interns.
A surprisingly large cubicle next to the copy machines. It’s a bit dark, but my bosses got me a lamp.  There is plenty of room to store things (aka M&Ms and Cheez-its).  I’ve been promised a bookshelf-which is good, I’m already running out of room for all the books I’ve accumulated.
Fellow Employees
8 or so regularly in the office, plus 3 or so interns.  Several more work from home.  They’re great people.
7 people on the KT team, within a much larger Children’s group, within a much much larger company.  They’re great people.
“Average” Day
Read manuscripts by unpublished authors and decide if they’re worthy of representation; Read manuscripts by clients and write up reader’s reports to help them prepare their manuscript for submission to a publishing house.
Read manuscripts by signed authors and write up reader’s reports to help them write even awesomer books; Copyedit manuscripts; Write up cover copy (the material on the covers of books, including the back blurb); Circulate materials and review manuscripts and covers with various departments.
Relationship with the rest of publishing
Love/Hate relationship with authors and editors.  Need them…but sometimes they can be frustrating!
Love/Hate relationship with authors and agents.  Need them…but sometimes they can be frustrating!

So there you have it!  It’s not quite a fair assessment of a literary agency verses a publishing house.  After all, I was only an intern at FP-NC…if I had been an agent, I would have been paid (again, just slightly more than nothing) and had my own desk…starting out in both aspects of publishing are pretty similar.   You have to love it because you’ll work hard with few rewards.  But it is sooooo worth it.  Just think of those kids at a bookstore picking up a book they’re dying to read! *smiles* I’ve always known that I wanted to be on the publishing house side of things, but that’s completely a personal choice…there are so many cool things going on everywhere!

P.S. This week I almost reached my unspoken goal of having readers from at least one country on every continent (Thanks, South Africa!)- I'm still working on Antartica, but I'm not holding my breath.  I would like to encourage anyone who's reading this blog to become a follower and provide me feedback in the comments sections!  Thanks!


  1. Thanks for sharing your journey, Laurel. It's always nice to hear the real details, and to put a face to the people who actually help make the books we all love. And congratulations on your job! Hope you get a bookcase soon. Watch it on those Cheezits, but one can never have enough books - or M&Ms :)

  2. No comments--the blog is great!! Post more, pretty please :-)

    We miss you!!