Today has been an abominably hot and miserable day. It is humid in NJ. The temperature has hovered around the mid to upper 90s all day. I think I managed to dehydrate myself, just by not drinking gallons of water (I got dizzy and nauseous and almost threw up in Borders; delightful). So I am cranky and I am going to write a cranky post, and you can all feel free to not read it. Be warned.
First of all, please stop bashing my interns. Jodi Meadows, my current temporary intern, has been doing a terrific job. She's passed up to me a number of partials to request, not all of which I've sent the e-mails for yet. She's fast; she's competent; and she knows exactly what I'm looking for. On top of that, she snagged me a lovely author, whose full manuscript I requested right away. I read the manuscript, loved it, and spoke to the author on the phone today. That would make her the third person I've offered representation to since this year began (for the record: one client signed in January, one potential client that went to a different agent in June, and this one potential client who I hope will sign with me, but who is taking time to consider it--always a smart move). I am grateful and happy for Jodi's help. She's one of the better interns I've worked with (and I've worked with at least half a dozen), especially because she comes pre-trained.
There are people who don't like the personalized rejections she's writing. Tough. Deal with it. I like them.
Second, there are people who complain that my regular intern doesn't answer queries fast enough. Let me tell you about my regular intern, shall I? He's a graduate student in English, teaches all semester, and oh, wait for this one, is a father of three. He works for me five to eight hours a week, which is entirely reasonable for an intern. He's doing a great job getting through my slush pile because he's not only reading queries, but independently reading partials and full manuscripts before passing them on to me. This is what all literary agent interns do; I've not met one who doesn't pre-vet manuscripts for the agent they're working for. For the record, my intern is incredibly picky, well-read, and hasn't yet passed me something that I want to sign. He's GOOD.
Third, reading slush, whether it's query letters, short stories, partial or full manuscripts is a thankless job. There are far more people out there who think they can write well than there are actually good writers. It's the job of the slush reader to sort the chaff from the wheat, to find the diamonds in the rough (and they do exist, and I've even signed some as clients), and to actually find the good stories to read. If I was rich and had my druthers, I'd pay all my slush readers $10/hour, at least; I'm not rich and I don't have my druthers, so that doesn't currently happen. Interns, like at many other places, work for experience around here. They save me valuable time, and allow me to devote energy to my actual clients. You know, the people who earn me money, and whose books I've sold, and whom I depend upon for my livelihood. They have always been and always will be my highest priority. If you ever want to be one, you would do well to respect the people who read the slush, looking out for your book.
Enough said. Cranky post over. =)