Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

What I Learned Interning at a Literary Agency

During my last semester at UMass, I had the opportunity to intern at the Linda Roghaar Literary Agency in Amherst. As the business takes places right at Linda’s home, I spent the morning on a computer, with two cats and a dog hungry for my attention as I tried to hide their paws from the mouse and keyboard. I had thought that this internship would mainly focus on my simple assistance involving updating the websites and maybe reading some books that needed to be edited, but the internship turned into something even more memorable that I thought it would be. In leaving this internship, I have gained a better knowledge of how the literary agency business works, along with a few other things that will help me pave a path towards my future.

The Importance of the Website

In today’s day and age, it is crucial that you have an internet presence when marketing a book. One task that I underwent was to create a website for an author who was a little hesitant at first to have her own website. Yet, as the website began to form, she realized how a simple website could begin to spread the word about her work. Even I, someone, who understood the importance of the internet, learned how an author’s site was navigated and what was crucial for an author to have on their site.

Editing Chaos

While I knew many people read an unpublished work many times to spot spelling errors and grammatical issues, I underestimated just how many people would read a work, and just how many times this work would be read. Linda, myself, other authors, publishers and the author’s friends all read the book, and together came up with a list of editing issues. I felt pretty proud of myself in having a page length of edits, but was astonished when an author came in with four sheets of paper, all filled with necessary edits to be made. Cut to a week later, and I read the final draft, still unprepared to find that a couple things were still missing. It proved just how gritty the business of editing was and how much I had to learn when editing a book.

The Selection of the Agent

One intense task I had was to read the inquiry letters sent to Linda. Each letter held a sample from an author’s work, and an inquiry about Linda’s openness to being their agent. For the most part, I was impressed with the book synopsi I saw and felt inclined to think that they were worthy of getting an agent well enough. The next day, I learned that, in fact, all these inquiries had to be denied! Linda showed me how each one had an issue, whether about the length, the manner the letter was written, the wrong book, genre, etc. It proved how selective an agent had to be and taught me how to narrow my own selection for the future.

The Agent’s Relationship with the Authors

One amazing aspect of this internship was how Linda allowed me to sit in on meetings between her and the authors she helped. I watched as the two would balance each other out; Linda helped organize how the author would market the book, while the author knew how to produce their work and edit their book in the best way. It helped me understand why an agent was so important for an author, and how the two helped create a good book that would sell well. I even got the opportunity to listen to an author pitch the synopsis of her upcoming novel, which felt exciting as we were the first to hear it!

My Love for Books

If anything, I am going to leave this internship knowing, with absolute certainty, that I will work with books. Whether this be as an agent, a publisher, an editor, or an author myself, I will find a way to spend my life with books and work with them. I do not expect this to be right away, but I eventually see myself like Linda or any one of these authors I met; surrounded by books and having a career involving them. This internship taught me that it will be difficult at times, and sometimes rejection must be met, but at the end of the day, it is all worthwhile.

Images: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

Anastasia Armstrong. English Major at UMass Amherst.
Similar Reads👯‍♀️