Ideal Job of the Week: Assistant to a Literary Agent

“Do what you love. Love what you do.” I, for one, and am so-uh-oh tired of this cliché. Maybe I’m bitter, but if I was doing what I loved it would involve daily screenings of Oprah, spontaneous trips to Europe, stocking my (non-existent) wine cellar with fabulous selections, a personal trainer named Gustav, and definitely no working of any kind. But in the real world we gotta work so if I have to choose then let us indulge the fantasy of an ideal job, thus my pick of the week: Assistant to a Literary Agent.

“Assistant?” you say. But of course. The real appeal in this job is the reading of the manuscripts and finding the hidden gem, the next J.K. or Salinger without dealing with the writers themselves. It’s a beautiful idea really, and came about after reading an article in O Magazine (two Oprah references in one post, let’s call it an O-fer) that instructed job seekers to follow their “hot tracks” or their particular interests, something like tracking a bear in the words. Being a self-help junkie, my own list of hot tracks was generated. And yes, drinking wine and traveling Europe were on it, along with reading novels. So I said to myself, “self, could reading novels for a living be a hot track?” Indeed!
After doing a little research on what it takes to be a literary agent as well as an editor it was quickly decided that legal stuff and negotiating contracts was not a hot track, which is a large part of what those folks do. To really get to the meat of it you gotta be the assistant (or intern but I won’t go that far) who the agent bosses around and orders to read nine hundred manuscripts by Monday. To complete the fantasy picture me, lounging in my hammock reading a stack of promising tales and passing judgment on each, “rubbish,” “bad,” “preposterous,” “insane,” until finally jumping up and exclaiming “diamond in the rough!” while hitting my agent’s speed dial.

I’m sure you can think of a thousand reasons why this would not be an ideal job. But don’t ruin it for me, I’m still following the hot tracks.

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