Reading for a Living
Everyone knows that agents and editors are reading practically all the time. We read queries and manuscripts of people hoping to secure representation, we read the manuscripts of our clients, and we read as many published books as possible – partly because we love reading, and partly because we need to stay on top of what’s happening in publishing.
One of the most common things people say to us is, “Oh, I would LOVE to read for a living!”
And yes, I admit, since reading is my favorite thing, I love that I get to read for a living. However, I have to admit that “reading for a living” is not as wonderful as it sounds. The main reason is that, like anything you’re doing for work as opposed to simply because you want to, you automatically look at it differently.
It takes much more energy to read for work, whether I’m reading my client’s manuscript or the work of new writers seeking representation. It’s not relaxing, because this kind of reading involves a persistent critical eye. I’m constantly assessing the work, making notes to myself, trying to identify problems and weaknesses, and evaluating the quality and saleability of the work. If there are issues – I’m bored while reading the story, I’m having a hard time staying engaged, I don’t care about the characters – then I’m asking myself questions and sleuthing out the reasons for these issues.
So my mind is processing on two levels while I read: I’m paying attention to the the story itself, and I’m also paying attention to my reactions to the story. There’s awareness, and then meta-awareness. Like I said, not relaxing!
I love what I do. But whenever you catch yourself saying (or thinking) “How great it would be to read for a living!” remind yourself – it’s not quite that simple.
Q4U: Which parts of an agent’s or editors job do you think you’d like the best? The least?
(c) 2010 Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent