Interning With an Agency

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Q. I am in the southwest part of Virginia right now where you recently did a speaking engagement, though I didn't go since I did not know about it, and I really want to get into the publishing business. However, I have made an obligation to stay here with a friend of mine for a year or so. I'm having trouble finding a job at a bookstore (or really anywhere), despite having run a book review site for over a year now (, and so am thinking about branching out a bit. Anyway, my question is, do you know of any agents, particularly those who deal with YA/MG manuscripts, who are in the southwest part of Virginia? It's hard to find them on since most people are looking for genre-specific agents rather than location-specific agents. I would love to be able to help them out and work under them for a while.
- James

A. There are two parts to my answer.
First, like I've said before on the blog, you don't need to work with an agent that's near you in terms of proximity. That makes no difference.
But I think you're also asking about it because you want to intern and learn some things about the business, correct? I admire your goal here, as working at an agency will help you learn a lot. But I know of no agencies in SW Virginia (let alone children-centric ones), so the problem remains. You can work for an agency from a distance, though. You would be reading a lot of submissions and queries and picking out the best ones to send to the agents for their perusal. It's a long-distance business internship. An arrangement like that is quite common, but you have to find a good agency to hook up with, have a solid agreement with them as to your role, and then have an ultimate goal in mind so you're just not plodding through a slush pile for the rest of your life.