But first the Q&A. I attended a writing conference in Boston last year and met Rubin in a critique session. I enjoyed talking with him. In fact, the more agents I meet, the more I realize they're the type of people I'd want to sit down with and chat about a million things. They have cool jobs and really great advice. So I was thrilled when he agreed to a Q&A. Here's a taste:
You’ve had a pretty amazing career in publishing, including art director at Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, vice president and publisher at Simon and Schuster and an independent agent at East West Literary. Then you started your agency in 2014, Rubin Pfeffer Content. Did the transition to agent change the way you work with authors?
Yes, definitely. You become much more aware of the authors as individuals, of their sensitivities, vulnerabilities, and their livelihoods. You’re on the side of the author. That’s not to say you’re not when you’re inside a publishing corporation, but as an agent, you’re much more concerned about the author’s business and dreams. When I was a publisher, I wasn’t sensitive enough to what delays and silence mean to authors. I regret, actually, having taken too long to sign contracts now that I see what it’s like to wait for them.
Can you give me a peek into your agenting day? What are the steps you usually go through when reading a submission?
What everyone needs to understand is there’s no set answer to any question you’re going to ask me in this interview. My day is full of many different responsibilities: administrative, creative, and simply humane responsibilities such as checking in with clients on their well-being and the progress of tasks at hand. In any given day, I’d be on the phone or on email with a publisher to make sure a project or manuscript is underway or to get feedback on submissions that might be sitting a little too long. I usually do a quick check of email to see what has newly arrived, business that needs to be addressed or that needs to go into some type of prioritization. If an author or editor has a question that needs a quick or timely response in order to keep the wheels rolling, I’ll take care of that first. Submissions from clients are going to get looked at right away because I’m excited to see what they’ve come up with. Unsolicited submissions are going to wait. If a submission catches my eye and I find it irresistible, I might get lost in it for a few hours and totally upend my day. So be it. But a typical day is making sure everything administratively is being done on schedule: checking contracts and payments, responding to authors’ questions, reading reviews. There’s always plenty of work in progress. You try to be as mindful of timing as possible, as mindful of an author’s eagerness and feelings, mindful of getting to submissions in a timely manner, mindful of editors and their time frame. I realize there’s no such thing as a work day, it’s really day and night. The more creative, social, experimental things, research etc., will be done later on, probably late afternoon or in the quiet of evening. For editors too, most of the day is administrative or full of meetings. When it comes to reading and actual editing many editors will work at night or on weekends.
What are you looking for? What makes a story work for you?I've posted the rest of the Q&A on my new site if you care visit: https://johnelldewitt.wordpress.com/2016/07/13/interview-with-literary-agent-rubin-pfeffer/
And thank you for visiting my blog. I will likely continue to post here as well.