A Guest Blog Post by Lucy Arlington
Author of “Off the Books,”
A Novel Idea Mystery
When I first started writing, literary agents were an enigma to me–mystical creatures, who I imagined spent their days reading inspiring works, dining with editors in fancy New York restaurants, and jet-setting off to Hollywood to negotiate lucrative film deals for clients. And sure, some of that really does happen. But when I was fortunate enough to land one of those agents, I quickly came to realize that a typical day for a literary agent includes much less glamorous activities: Reading query letters from hopeful authors includes sending them a disappointing “No thank you.” Editing book proposals demands hours of word-smithing. And matching a prospective book project with the right editor at the right publishing house takes networking, persuasion, finesse, and lots of just plain work. In short, a literary agent is like a tireless gatekeeper to the world of publishing, a writer’s travel partner along the bumpy road to publication, a dream maker.
That’s exactly why I enjoy writing the Novel Idea Mysteries featuring Lila Wilkins, literary agent and amateur sleuth. Lila sees herself as someone who helps authors realize their dreams. I depict her working life with both the glamorous aspects she enjoys and the tedious efforts her career requires. More important, I get to show the thrill—for her and the writer—when a publishing contract lands on her desk. By creating Lila’s adventures, I can live vicariously through her and experience a bit of what it might be like to open the publishing door for aspiring authors. Of course, along with finding amazing authors, Lila also happens to discover her fair share of dead bodies. (Something I have no desire to do in real life.) But in the end, she always gets a publishing contract for her author… and brings the killer to justice.