When Andrea threw out the idea of a blog interview series, I got excited. There are a lot of blogs out there, and there are a lot of interviews, but there aren’t that many interview series that cover the scope of the publishing industry and focus on what an author needs to know. How cool would it be to actually create a series to fill that gap? (Answer: very)
My second reaction was fear. I was supposed to contact all these strangers and ask them to donate their time and energy to answer questions for a blog no one had heard of because it didn’t technically exist yet? You may or may not have heard this about my generation, but we don’t like contacting strangers, whether it be in person (yikes!), phone (the worst), or internet. Especially not when we’re asking for something. So I almost balked even before the series began.
But if there is one thing I have learned so far, it is to take advantage of the opportunities that come your way. As a college freshman, you hear two things: getting an internship is everything, and internships are impossible to get for freshmen. Always determined to get ahead, I disregarded that second piece of advice and scoured the internet for any literary agencies looking for interns. There are a lot out there, but there are also a lot of interns out there, and most of those probably weren’t such newbies. On the first application I sent in, I forgot to attach my resume. And don’t even get me started on phone interview (remember how much my generation hates the phone?)
I ended up getting an internship with Andrea Hurst, which meant I’d be spending my summer on Whidbey Island. It was my first summer away from my parents, my first car, my first job, and I’d never even heard of the place I was going. Let’s just say I was a little nervous as I boarded the plane.
The summer had its bumps (most notably when my car broke down and stayed broken for three weeks), but I learned a lot. I learned about reading queries and evaluating manuscripts from their first few pages rather than expending the time and energy to read the whole thing; I learned about interacting with other agents and editors; I learned about what goes into running a small business. More importantly, I learned a lot about life, like how much better it is when people welcome you into the folds even as a stranger, like how important it is to find people you can talk to about your problems especially when your family is far away, like how saying the small things is usually all it takes to make someone’s day. Plus, I learned that avocados are yummy.
With that experience in mind, I told myself to overcome all my balking at AUTHORNOMICS because I just knew it would be another great experience from which I could learn a lot. And I have. Besides figuring out how to write a professional email or how to politely but firmly tell someone we need their interview NOW, I have benefited from reading each and every guest’s wisdom. Margie Lawson‘s interview delved deeply into craft; Kenneth Shear‘s explained the pros and cons of traditional publishing, of self-publishing, and of publishing with small presses like Booktrope’s; Texilian Armadillion’s got fun with an interview from a character; and more recently, Peg Booth‘s comments on publicists made them sound a lot like agents, only the gate they can open is to the public rather than editors.
What has surprised me the most is how excited everyone has been for their interviews. Even though people are up to their eyeballs with things to do, they all take the time to write their responses with thought and with enthusiasm. From this, and from my summer on Whidbey Island, there is one thing I think an aspiring author needs to know: there is true kindness in the world, and if you are a part of that kindness, it will take you very far.
The AUTHORNOMICS Interview Series will continue on a biweekly basis this summer; I’m off to be a research assistant, an intern, and a writer myself. I hope to hear from some of you on my personal blog, katieflanagan.wordpress.com, but ’til then, let’s meet here!
Katie Flanagan is a fiction major at Northwestern University. She is currently an editor with Booktrope Publishing and Pink Fish Press. In the past, she has interned with Andrea Hurst Literary Management and the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts. Her favorite genre is women’s fiction, but she reads any fiction put in front of her. Check out her blog about the writing life at katieflanagan.wordpress.com and follow her on Twitter at @K_Flanagan.