• Matt

A Day in the Life

Now that I'm back from my first, much needed vacation this year, I figured it would be a good time to document what I did yesterday to give you all a glimpse of what a day in the life of a literary agent is.

I should preface this with the fact that no two days are ever the same for a literary agent. Some are hectic and insane with tons and tons of phone calls, while others are quiet and cozy with reading and editing. Trust me, there's always more reading to do.

So here's how my day went yesterday. I've changed any reference to use they/them pronouns to keep things as vague and nonspecific as possible.

I started early, knowing that I had a lot of emails that my vacation brain completely ignored. The first step was going through the hundreds of emails I'd received so I could start to prioritize. There were quite a few that needed no action from me—emails from colleagues or things I had already responded to—so those were easy to look at and file into the proper email folder. Doing this also helped me start to make a to-do list for the day. This gets me in a good mindset of tasks and helps me with an understanding of what I need to get done in any given day.

Here it is:

  • Edit proposal chapters I received from a client last week

  • Read and respond to queries I received from a recent writing conference

  • Edit and respond to several transgender / nonbinary queriers who reached out to me

Not so bad, right? I didn't think so either. I like to keep my lists to an accomplishable state. Helps keep me grounded (or at least so I like to tell myself).

Now that we've lost a couple hours to email management, time to get to it! So I jumped into the two chapters I had to edit, which was quick and easy. It also helped that this is a subsequent draft of these chapters and we've had edits go back and forth already. Minor touch ups this time around, so those were sent back to my client. Phew! Still on track.

Needing a small break from editing, I turned on an industry webinar I missed last week. That lasted about an hour. While watching / listening, I made a late breakfast and worked on my to-do list for the week. I now have two lists: a daily and a weekly.

Time to jump into writing conference queries! I got through three, which includes reading the query and the first 25 pages of each of them. Yes, I actually did read all of them. I sent my notes back to the authors and responded to a couple of client emails, too.

Then my day started to shift off the to-do list. I had a call with a client to talk about next steps for their book, which is under contract. Everything's going great, but it was still a productive conversation about how to best move forward as they work with their editor now that they've delivered most of their manuscript.

Let's get back to editing! No, wait, hold that, the phone's ringing. It's an editor calling, so this is important. Ah, damn. Looks like the editor is passing on a different client's project. Not great news, but this happens often, so it's also not the end of the world. It was nice to talk to the editor and share some ideas.

Okay, now time to call said client and let her know we have a rejection for her work. This one had been submitted exclusively, so it's a tougher rejection, but also means it's only one rejection for a project we can now submit widely.

Oh, would you look at the time! Now that we're in the afternoon, I've got to log into Zoom for our online staff meeting. It's always nice to see friendly faces. Agenting is pretty solitary, but it's nice to have a group of people you can talk to and spitball ideas with.

Good staff meeting! Now I have to get back to work, following up with editors on submissions and publishers regarding marketing information for books about to publish.

Also, given the events of last week, it's time to get my Query Manager account set up. This took a bit longer than I expected it to, and then I had to change it in all of the appropriate places: the agency website, my personal website, a post on Twitter to announce it, etc.

An offer has arrived! Now I need to call my client and let them know the good news! And with that, it's now 6 pm and time to call it a day. After I write a blog post, that is...

If you've made it this far, then thank you for reading! And yes, this all actually happened on a Monday, and no, I did not get anything else on my to-do list done.

Everything about this job is shifting and re-prioritizing. Today, I've got to write a submission letter, finish a submission list, and then need to get the query edits I've promised and more follow ups for projects on submission.

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