From the Desk of Melissa Jeglinski
Through the Looking Glass: Life from the other side of the publishing world.
Making the transition from editor to agent was a complex move for me. And even after a few months, it’s still a work in progress. Coming from an editorial background, I was taught to look at projects with an objective eye, but within a very finite set of requirements. As an agent, the world has suddenly expanded, allowing me to fall down a rabbit hole filled with possibilities.
On this other side of the publishing table, I am reviewing a wider range of genres, working with a more eclectic group of authors and placing their works at a varied array of houses. There are no limitations. And that is both exciting and daunting.
Romance has always been my first love and I will always have a special place in my heart for series romance...that will never change. But working at one publishing house only allowed me to buy for that house’s needs. And though imprints were born and, sadly, died, there was a limitation on what I could pursue. Now, the only limitation is my own desire. The Knight Agency receives an average of fifty queries per day running the gamut from young adult paranormal, to self-help nonfiction, to three-hankie women’s fiction reads. With a broader array of genres and sub-genres to peruse, my excitement level has ratcheted up 200%. I’m literally a kid in a candy store with so much to choose from.
Adding these new genres into my repertoire has broadened my exposure to many new editors at many new houses. In my previous job, I had worked alongside editors for seventeen years. I saw them come and go...in my publishing house. I knew what they were looking for just by passing by their office to chat. In this broader world of agenting, I am involved with multiple publishing houses where new editors arrive constantly and whose tastes and needs vary more than all the tea in china. But I am expanding my world of business acquaintances. I am so looking forward to attending writers’ conferences where I can meet with these editors face to face. And...it’ll be really cool to get taken out to lunch for once instead of the other way around.
As for working with clients, I am loving the infinite possibilities this new endeavor has given me. Taking on new clients is much different in the agent world. When I was an editor, I’d be buying an author based solely on their manuscript. And that manuscript would have been sent to my attention because I was the senior editor of the line they were aspiring toward. Now, there is much more open communication involved in my taking on a client.
If the writer submits a project directly to me, it is either because they know my reputation, have worked with me in the past, or I was recommended by a fellow author. If the writer submitted a project to the agency’s general submissions folder and I happen to request it, then I have to introduce myself to the author. In both cases, the perspective client and I have an open, honest dialogue. We discuss what they are looking for in an agent and what I can do for them. We have to both be agreeable to the terms of our relationship. So we know we have a good connection. There is a lot more choice involved in this type of collaboration.
This journey into the agenting world has certainly brought about many changes to my career...all for the better. Working with such a variety of projects and talented writers has reinvigorated my joy for the written word. I know there will be challenges I will continue to face, but am eager to meet them head on and look forward to all that awaits me on this side of the looking glass.