Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Job Market and My Boss

Dear Rejecter:
Is your publishing house aware that you are selling your services outside of work?
While I'm sure what you're offering is high-quality, my gentle suggestion is that you check with your senior editor first, before you find a conflict of interest shadowing your career.

U.S. Writer

Well, yeah, of course she does. She knows about the blog and she knows that I'm looking for other work, even work that would replace the job I have. We've talked about it from time to time.

What I have is a pretty bottom-level job within a two person company, and one of the people is me. It would only get lower if I was an unpaid intern. It's not expected that I'm going to stay working at the literary agency forever. In fact, most people only stay at my position for a year or two, and then the agent (or agents, as many people have multiple jobs and multiple agencies because they need the hours to pay the bills) helps them find a job at a publishing house. It's in the agent's best interest that a former assistant become, hopefully, an editor at a major house, because the agent is thinking that down the line, in 10 years or so, their former assistant may be the person they're pitching a novel to.

I've stayed with the job so long because (1) I was in school full-time until January, (2) I genuinely like my boss and I enjoy my work, (3) until recently I've been too ill for full-time work, (4) I'm a working writer with one book coming out in the fall that's the first in a series and another we're about to try to sell to another company, (5) the job market is completely dead right now.

It may seem a little weird to people who have more traditional jobs that involve getting a job at a company and hoping to get a raise or a promotion that I talk to my employer about job prospects, but people move around a lot in publishing, and it's in everyone's best interest to keep a network of people they know in other agencies/companies. I think when it gets to the corporate level (VP or above) they get extremely secretive about job offers elsewhere, because there actual living wage is involved, but that's at a very high level that most people don't achieve or don't want to achieve.


Annalee said...

Hi there. I'm mostly a lurker around these here parts, but I want to offer my congratulations on your improved health. I don't know the details about your illness (and certainly it's none of my **** business), but it's wonderful that you're feeling well enough to work full-time now.

Thanks for the awesome blog, and best wishes for a long and healthy life.

The Rejecter said...

Thanks. As mentioned in some very early posts, I have Crohn's Disease.

Adrienne said...

Since you've said you are feeling better, this may be too little too late, and you may already know about it, but there is an excellent book for good intestinal health called "Breaking the Vicious Cycle" by Elaine Gottschall, which has not only helped myself, but basically anyone I know who has followed the diet. It's pretty restrictive, and not easy, but the results are very impressive, and I do know someone who has Crohn's Disease who is on it and is worlds better. It's a lovely alternative to medicating oneself, and truly does work (and I'm really not one to shy away from doctors or prescribed medication, I just could not find anything that would help me - saw every kind of specialist - and then this book came along, and it was amazing.)

Anyway, just a suggestion (and no I am not employed by the publisher of said book, nor the PR rep, just someone who understands what it's like to go through what you have [though granted a far less extreme case], and was excited to find something that helped)!

Angie McCullagh said...

You're shedding light in previously shadowy places. Thanks!

Angie (from

Unknown said...

If the original asker hadn't completely missed the mark on thinking you work for an editor, I'd have thought they were talking about AAR's policies on not recommending editing services. Which of course aren't an issue since you're not getting clients from your agent.

I wish you all the best in your job search! I'm doing the same thing and boy is it depressing. At least you've got your foot in the door; I've got my nose pressed against the door while I keep ringing the bell and hoping someone will let me in. I've gotten to the point of trying to get another internship, 'cause apparently one wasn't enough. ^_^

Tyhitia Green said...

Glad you're feeling better. :*) Are you going to announce when your book is coming out?

Kimber Chin said...

Actually at the C-Suite level, there is even less secrecy about moving jobs. The exec club is pretty small (and ripe with gossip).

The standard in business (at least with the aggressive folk I play with) is not to spend more than a year in a position, until you hit the exec levels.