A lot of people looking to go into publishing aren’t sure what path they want to take. We all love books and have a passion for literature and writing, but turning our creativity into a career always seems to be THE question burning a hole into our emotional pocket books. Not to mention that most of us have to deal with people in our lives who don’t even understand how the book industry even works and think of our creative abilities as nothing more than “hobbies”.
Show of hands for anyone who has ever felt personally victimized by “So….how’s that writing thing going?” or “Oh! You have an English degree? So, you want to teach?”
Don’t get me wrong; I have mad respect for teachers and think it’s complete and utter bullshit for us NOT to invest more money in education. But the insinuation that any field with a liberal arts degree is only useful for teaching it to others is an incredibly pedantic take on the literal years we’ve spent honing our craft. They forget that the majority of their entertainment—from movies, tv shows, magazines, to social media content, advertisements, local and national news, in addition to “I-didn’t-even-know-people-still-read” BOOKS—starts with a story. And every story needs an author to pen it.
There are ways to turn your degree into a career. While teaching is one of them, there are also others. And you should know about all your options.
I, unfortunately, didn’t learn about all my options until much later. I knew I had always wanted to be a writer. From the age of six, in fact. I knew that story-telling was what I wanted to do. The desire differed from screenwriting to novel writing to play writing, but I always knew it was in my future. I, unfortunately, ended up taking a very long detour once I got married and I found myself in need of a day job that would pay the bills while I continued toward getting my degree. It was a good stint, for sure, but it wasn’t until I started to feel anxious for having abandoned my passion for so long that I started writing again. And once I started writing, I decided to start looking into the very real aspect of how to turn my craft into my job.
I started out as a beta reader for a friend in the industry who started telling me more about publishing and the professionals that make up this world. I realized that I HAD NO IDEA. No one ever told me about internships and literary agents, and marketing and the very important role of bloggers. What the actual what, folks! As I kept reading for my friend, updating my natural editorial abilities from what they were when I was in college, I realized something incredible: I loved being her cheerleader. I loved seeing her stories come to life and being able to contribute to those stories in some small way. My passion for writing and story-telling grew but in a way that my greatest ambition was to see the story succeed.
I still have ambition for my own writing, please don’t misconstrue that by any means—but I have so much more ambition to help others succeed. Kind of in a Horace Slughorn sort of way, except I am a proud Ravenclaw and will outright deny any Slytherin tendencies.
It was a long road and I’m still learning. I’m only an Agent-in-Training, but every day is something new and amazing. I want to be a champion for my clients. I want to help them take their vision and make it grow so they’re able to share the crazy world they have living inside their heads. I want to be there for them in their journey, help them navigate that road to Publishing, and cheering them on every step of the way.
This is an important thing to notate about choosing the agenting path. Being an agent is never going to be about you; it will always be about your client. While self-advocacy is necessary for any field of entrepreneurship, our self-advocacy comes in the form of advocating for our clients. We’re here to help them carry out their dreams and to do it in a way that they will allow their passion to be turned into a sustainable career. And writers, the best kind of advocacy will come from finding the agent that best understands you as well as your work and how you harness your creativity.
That’s all I’ve got for now.