Perception vs. Reality
What's it like to be an agent?
Perception: you get to sit around in your pajamas all day (Okay, so I AM in my pj's at the moment, but it's still the crack of dawn) and then reading wonderful submissions from authors who will help you rake in billions of dollars by the end of the year.
Reality: You have to establish a home office, unless you work out of an agency office, pay the overhead, etc. and read through dozens of works that you don't even handle, aren't ready for submission, were intended for someone else at the agency (or even another agency). Have received submissions for individuals not at our agency. Really?
Perception: you make g'zillions of dollars from your clients.
Reality: you hopefully break even at the end of the year after attending numerous conferences, pay to return snail mail copies you didn't request, pay for clothes you wouldn't wear except to attend said conferences (after all, how much do jammies actually cost each year?) hahahaha
Perception: Just sit back and watch the clients' work roll out and get dozens of contracts.
Reality: work your tushy off to help get a project ready only to be told "No thanks." "Not at this time." "Historic, romance, suspense, etc. are all full up till 2020." and on and on.
Perception: that's all there is to it.
Reality: Conferences to meet and greet with authors and editors. Contests--dozens of contests to judge. Acquaintances who just happen to have written a book they want you to look at. Drop everything to do a quick read for a submission an editor wants to see YESTERDAY!
Reality: No, not easy-peasy, but rewarding. VERY REWARDING to see an author who trusts you with his or her baby make it. A 3-book deal! Woot! And that's the reality that makes all the rest of the hard work worth it. Honestly, making a financial living this way is wonderful, but it isn't what drives me as an agent. What drives me is the internal reward. Knowing you helped make it happen. The jammies on a rainy, nasty day when you don't feel like putting on make up is just the powdered sugar on the banana nut muffin. It's a yummy job and somebody's gotta do it!