I’m often asked what an agent’s day is like, and I thought of a million different ways to write this blog post up, but in the end I couldn’t do it, because no two days are the same. There are days that are so busy with phone calls that my ear starts to hurt, and there are others when the phone hardly rings but I’m spending all my time answering emails. There are days and weeks when I can’t even think about my query in-box and others when I have an hour here or there to read through a few.
While I like a certain amount of routine in my life, I love the unpredictability of this job. I like that each day isn’t exactly like the next.
That being said, I did track my doings on one day and here’s what happened . . .
I tend to wake up really early in the morning. My goal is usually to get to the gym, but that doesn’t always happen. Whether I get to the gym or not though, I always check my email first thing. So after flipping on the news and pouring a hot cup of coffee, I settle into the couch to see what my email looks like. After about 30 to 45 minutes I’ve weeded out the spam, deleted things like news alerts, and scanned emails from clients and editors. I’ll answer those that are easy to answer and leave the more complicated emails for later in the day. Any queries or submissions are automatically relegated to a query folder. I’ll look through those later.
From my email I hop over to HootSuite, the program I use to manage my social networking. Here I can see what publishing news I missed while I (gasp) slept. I can also check the status of my clients. I can find out who has finally finished the proposal to send my way, who is struggling with the next book and who is baking cookies I hope are sent my way. Some Tweets will be retweeted, some will require an email (to check in on the struggling client), and others can be ignored (most really). This Twitter check takes about 15 minutes, more if there are a number of news articles (publishing or otherwise) that I feel I want to read.
Morning is often the time, when it’s quiet, that I’m inspired to write a blog post. If I’m inspired I’ll spend 15 to 30 minutes writing one up. Only if I’m inspired, though.
Once my emails are sorted I enter the real world and do the things I need to do to get ready for the day. You know, things like brush my hair, feed the dog, wrestle kids and drink lots and lots of coffee. To give you perspective, this is usually around 6 a.m.
The family is organized, my hair is brushed, and I’m on my fourth cup of coffee. That usually means it’s time to get into the office. This could mean it’s 8 a.m., it could be 9 a.m., and it could be 10 a.m. It really depends. The “luxury” of being an agent is that my hours are flexible. Of course, that means the job is also round-the-clock.
Once I get to the office I start fresh. First I check emails, and inevitably I’ve received a number since early in the morning, and yes, many are from editors. I then move to focus on those I hadn’t yet answered to get them answered. This can take 15 minutes, it can take a couple of hours. It really depends on how many there were and how complicated the answers are.
I’ll sort through the piles left on my desk from the day before. These could include snail mail from organizations, trade magazines like Publishers Weekly, contracts, etc. Again, I answer those that are easy and will deal with the rest later.
On this particular day I spent two hours updating banking records and checking to see which payments needed to be followed up on. Typically this is something I do two to three times a week. Sometimes it takes an hour, sometimes three or four. Emails go out to editors at this point to find out why we haven’t yet been paid or when we can expect a check. How firm the email is depends on how long we’ve been waiting for the check. This can actually take some time since I have to remember which author is with which editor, who the emails need to go to, and what books I’m requesting payment for.
Royalty statements are a constant in our office, which of course we love. On this day I had two that I needed to review. That took about 30 minutes.
My intern had reviewed all the links on our website and blog and put together a list of those that no longer seemed active. I reviewed that list, approved changes and deletions, and sent that back to my intern. That took about 20 minutes.
Other aspects of my day included:
25 minutes: put finishing touches on a pitch letter for a client’s newest proposal
20 minutes: review submission list for said proposal and submit my pitch
30 minutes: respond to a smattering of equeries
30 minutes: grab a quick lunch of fresh mozzarella and tomato. Brown Butter Raspberry tart for dessert
15 minutes: respond to emails requesting the partial for previously submitted proposal. Submit proposal
45 minutes: phone call with client to discuss career concerns
15 minutes: respond to client emails
35 minutes: phone call with new client to discuss contract concerns
10 minutes: prepare contract for new client and send out
45 minutes: put finishing touches on publicity guidelines we’ve been working on for our clients. This has been a work in progress for the past month, so I’m pleased to see it completed
30 minutes: work on tax issues for a client
I’m sure there were many other things I did. More answering emails, quick phone calls, a chat with Kim or Katelynn about pretty much anything, a quick check to make sure the blog hasn’t gotten out of hand, another quick check on Twitter to make sure the world hasn’t imploded, etc.