Monday, August 16, 2010

Jim waxes nostalgic

by Jim

Hello again, blogosphere. I got back from vacation today and as our dedicated readers know, yet another loyal DGLM intern, Stephanie DeVita, has gone full time. We trapped another one! (I kid, I kid).

Stephanie’s shift to full time makes me feel one thing: old. Okay, two things: it also make me feel nostalgic. It’s now been more than eight years since I went from intern to full-time employee. And I realize as I write this that this week actually marks exactly 11 years since I first set foot in the door.

The first day I was supposed to work here, I was out in the ‘burbs, and a storm dumped so much rain that train lines flooded, and I couldn’t make it in. I figured this was a sign from the weather gods that working here was a bad idea. But with the end of flooding the next day, I was able to make it in. And I was scaaaaared. I had worked about 17 jobs in high school, but this was my first employment in the big city, and I was convinced that everyone was going to be terrifying. Sure, that was true. But I stuck it out anyway.

Nah, everyone was great. And I went from not knowing what a literary agent was to BEING one. The best thing about working here, in my opinion, has always been the opportunity to experiment and grow. I really grew up here. As Jane and Miriam can attest, the exceedingly weird teenager I started was left deep in the past. The world thanks them.

Nothing about becoming an agent is easy. It takes time to find clients, more time to sell books by them, and a lot more time to build them. There was a lot of trial and error along the way. But again, there was room for that. I could sign on books that might not have had much of a chance. I worked on them because I loved them. Some early defeats still sting. There’s a novel that I tried to sell in 2003 that I still think deserved publication. Urination played a large role. It was…less than commercial. I’m still teased about that one sometimes, but you know what? It was GOOD.

Mostly though, I’m just in a happy reflective place. Finding a great book to work on is still the most exciting part of the job. I am thrilled by the successes of my clients but never satisfied until I’ve helped them achieve more. What I love about this job is that it’s never “done.” You don’t punch a time clock and leave it behind at the end of the day. There is always more to be read, more to explore, more to think about. Once that stops being overwhelming (give it about five years, Steph), the ongoing nature of the business is its own reward.

Things change: markets go up and down, new ways of reading are developed, different trends hit while others sink. But great books will always be read. And I’m delighted to play a small role in making that happen.

This concludes the most grossly earnest post I will ever write: promise.


  1. Thanks for this post (sniff, sniff)...I love informative, "this is why some queries need work and this is where the industry is going," posts as much as the next person, but I'm also a big softie at heart. Loved this.

  2. Awwwwww! Honey! I've been with you for 7 of those 8 years, and you know what? It still feels like much, much longer. ;) (Ha! Keeeeeeeding! Oh, I slay me!) No, in all seriousness, I cannot imagine that anyone would have worked so hard to help me get so far, (I mean, 24 books in 7 years, SERIOUSLY?!!!) And it has been one amazing ride, doll. Thanks for that.

    Hugs ya, you fabulous man!


  3. Great post Jim! And you get to go to great conferences like the Surrey International Writers' Conference and get to meet some interesting Canadian writers ...!


  4. Banned complain !! Complaining only causes life and mind become more severe. Enjoy the rhythm of the problems faced. No matter ga life, not a problem not learn, so enjoy it :)

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