Blogger: Michelle Ule
Sitting in for Janet Grant.
Changes at a Literary Agency since 2004
I’ve been working for Books & Such since January 2004.
(It’s now called Books and Such Literary Management).
I initially signed on to help with taxes that year, but the work was so interesting, that I’ve remained ever since!
It’s a pleasure and honor to work for Janet Kobobel Grant and with all the agents: Rachel Kent, Wendy Lawton, Barb Roose, Debbie Alsdorf, and Cynthia Ruchti. (Not to mention the agents who retired or moved on!)
I work behind the scenes (as does Ginny Smith), so my role is to support editorial work, client needs, questions, royalties, retreat planning, and routine office activities. I also take the minutes because I’m the fastest typist.
Handling the literary agency mail
When I first began working beside Janet in a small office, my main function was dealing with the mail.
Books & Such both received and sent out a lot of physical mail in those busy pre-Internet days.
The US postal service brought queries, manuscripts, royalties, checks, and general questions.
I opened, sorted, and dealt with it. (Please do NOT send us queries in the mail! You can read how to query us here).
Some days I spent my entire work shift responding to queries on which Janet had written “yes” or “no.”
She marked most of them “no,” which made for sad days of typing a physical letter, handing it to her to sign, and then putting it into a SASE.
(When I got home, my husband would look at me and say, “are we even having dinner tonight?” It’s emotionally difficult to write rejections all day long.)
We also visited the post office nearly every day, sending out royalty checks, statements, and bulky envelopes full of fresh manuscripts to publishers.
Which brings me to:
While we always received queries through email, we decided circa 2006 to change our policy to email-only queries.
That simplified the process for both us and hopeful writers.
We received between 600-700 queries a month in the early years.
(The number now is closer to 400 monthly queries).
I sorted them into possibilities and non-possibilities and then passed them on to the appropriate agents.
(Some of this is easy. I know what Books & Such represents and what it doesn’t. Agents tell me what they want or don’t want. Mafia, Harry Potter knock-offs, Vampires, sex-infused novels, and so forth–don’t fit our model. See our submissions page for details.)
Books & Such personnel read every query that fits into our requested genres.
We use a lot less paper and visit the post office far less often now.
Literary Agency Royalties
We still process a mountain of royalty reports every month, most sent through electronic mail.
We log in the numbers, sort the royalty reports, scan them for our files, file the paper versions, and email the reports to our clients.
It takes a lot of time to process royalties and we work very hard to be accurate.
Writing the checks or sending money through electronic means is a happy day at work!
Books & Such Literary Agency has always had a presence on the Internet, but it is far more involved now.
In 2008, we set up our website and the agents began blogging.
The website is FULL of resource material, not to mention 14 years of blog posts on all sorts of information related to publishing, writing, books, and industry news.
We’ve had a presence on Facebook for about thirteen years. The agents have their own Twitter accounts.
With our clients, we’ve held meetings and tutorials online and are always open to effective ways to use technology.
Webinars for our clients, Zoom visits, conversations with editors, and so forth means we spend a lot of the waking day staring at our computers–just like you.
Our staff meetings, for example, always have been held on line since the agents live in four different states.
The agents, like publishing editors, use track changes while editing manuscripts, putting together proposals, and demonstrating needed changes with their clients’ work.
The Ipad is now a necessary tool for reading manuscripts!
Nothing remains the same for long in any industry. Publishing is no exception.
Books & Such agents have always has been business-savvy and ready to move ahead.
That’s why it’s such an interesting place to work.
Each of the new additions brought excitement, a different perspective, new skills, and enthusiasm to their partnership.
Their creativity often stretches me!
Each agent in her own way is a wonderful asset–and joy–to my job.
I cannot think of more reputable, honest, and godly women to work with–truly, it’s an honor to serve them.
Books and Authors
The writers and their books have always been at the heart of Books & Such.
The best day is when a book sells and we all rejoice together.
We get a copy of our clients’ books here at the office when they’re published. We love to examine the cover together, touch the pages, and smile at our author’s photo on the back.
It’s even more wonderful to see their books “out in the wild,” at airports, bookstores, on readers’ laps, and in magazine reviews.
Many of the authors have become my personal friends and I love to greet them at conferences, retreats, and when they come to town.
I’m so thankful I stayed on to work with Books & Such Literary Agency after I finished helping with the taxes in 2004!
Did any of these changes surprise you?
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