I am interested in becoming a literary agent. Though, I do not work in publishing and do not have the ability to at this moment. I live overseas for my husband's career. I have a love for children's books and would pursue repping authors/illustrators. I have my Bachelor's degree in English and my career work in finance. Is there any position I could obtain to help gain experience in this career field, specifically virtually? Should I just go for it, or put the dream on hold until we are located back in the U.S.?The first question I ask when people say "I want to be a literary agent" is "what do you think literary agents do?"
It will come as no surprise to you, I'm sure, that people don't know.
Some years back there was a spate of eager beaver youngsters who hung out their shingles as agents cause they'd seen agents talking on Twitter and their jobs sounded fun. Cupcakes! Reading manuscripts! Terrifying writers! (oh wait, that last one was just me.)
The first thing you need to find out is what literary agents do.
The ONLY way to do that is intern with an agency.
It's very hard to do that remotely.
Some agencies do have remote internships, but the ONLY thing you'll be doing most likely is reading.
And reading is about 5% of my job.
My job is selling, and then helping authors stay sold.
Which means that you better know how to cold call people.
And you better know how to pitch projects.
And you'd better know how to manage an author's expectations for when things go south.
And if you're really good at your job (which I hope you want to be) you'll know what to do when your author has four published books and editors aren't interested in looking at #5.
And you better know the market. If authors have to read 100 books in their category to be current, agents should have read 1000. And that's just before you walk in the door.
What do you know about book production? Do you know how illustrators are paid? How they split advances and royalties with writers? How do you introduce an illustrator? And to whom?
Agenting is not an entry level job.
There's no way to do it well unless you have some sort of background that will make editors take you seriously.
You can have the best project in the world, but if an editor doesn't open your email or return your call cause they don't have a clue who you are, you can't sell something.
And yes, it's gotten a LOT harder to get an editor's attention in the last ten years.
The one thing you should NOT do is "just go for it."
You don't know what you don't know and any author you sign will suffer for it.
If you want to be an agent, that fact alone will dissuade you because being an agent is about putting the writer first.