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Stories From an Agency Intern: Michael Mohr Explains

When literary agent Elizabeth Kracht (Kimberley Cameron & Associates) asked me to be her assistant, I jumped at the opportunity. Since then, I have been exclusively perusing E’s slush pile; helping with client manuscripts; aiding with editorial pitch letters; and answering a general melee of unique and sometimes challenging questions. Learning about The Industry from the inside has really helped me see what I need to do in my own writing, in order to boost myself up to that place we all desire: Getting our novel or collection or memoir, etc, out there. The information, the discussions (some involving me, some overheard), the questions and challenges, are invaluable to a young writer. I am learning the ropes, cutting my literary teeth, washing the green off, slowly.

Interning for Kimberley Cameron & Associates has been truly amazing. What an experience. And specifically working with Elizabeth Kracht, the “madwoman” whom I refer to frequently as “E.”

I met E at the San Francisco Writer’s Conference in February 2013. We connected instantly, and she asked me to pitch my debut novel to her at a round table in Peacock Court, right before Anne Perry was about to teach us How the Hell To Write. Perry has written eighty-something books, mostly historical murder mysteries and detective fiction. (To read my nonfiction piece about the SFWC 2013 and meeting Elizabeth for the first time, visit my blog: Michaelmohrwriter.com, and under the tab “nonfiction,” read “Are you a Writer or an Author?”)

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Guest column by Michael Mohr, a 30-year-old published Bay
Area writer who has begun a weekly blog that covers his experience
both as an author and as Elizabeth Kracht’s (senior agent with
Kimberley Cameron & Associates) assistant. This blog is a forum
for aspiring and well-known writers alike to either check in with
the agent’s world, or to begin to learn how the trade works, from
an insider perspective. Michael's work can be found in Flash: The
International Short Short Story Magazine; The MacGuffin; Alfie
Dog Press; and Gothic City Press.

When E asked me to be her assistant, I jumped at the opportunity. Since then, I have been exclusively perusing E’s slush pile; helping with client manuscripts; aiding with editorial pitch letters; and answering a general melee of unique and sometimes challenging questions.

Learning about The Industry from the inside has really helped me see what I need to do in my own writing, in order to boost myself up to that place we all desire: Getting our novel or collection or memoir, etc, out there. The information, the discussions (some involving me, some overheard), the questions and challenges, are invaluable to a young writer. I am learning the ropes, cutting my literary teeth, washing the green off, slowly.

Witnessing the weekly struggles and issues within the agency has also been a learning experience. Sometimes other agents come into the office. Sometimes it’s just E and myself. Sometimes we delve into serious concerns: Will this novel be salable?—it’s speaking to some pretty dark, intense truths; will the publishing world want to sell it? Is there an adequate audience for this or that author? Have they alienated anyone with the content of their piece?

(How many literary agents should a writer send their work to?)

The questions go on and on, and each round of them brings a new perspective and a new set of options and routes to pursue.

The other side of the literary coin is: How can I contribute to the writing world, using this as a medium? Easy: I’ll start a blog! I never thought in a million years I would take this road, but here I am. What I learn, for the most part, you’ll learn, readers. That’s the point—paying it forward. We all want to get our work out there, into the Great Big Literary World. So I am here to give writers a firsthand account of the inside workings of the machine—the beast known as Kimberley Cameron & Associates.

And as I continue, I will try my best to continue to remember that what is most important in this world is authenticity, humility, truth. Just like in our collective writing: We seek out the real. We are artists. We are writers. We are madmen- and women who have decided—many of us—to dedicate out lives, in one form or another, to the art and craft of writing. This is a powerful declaration—a call to the proverbial wild; a stance that says: We stand together, though sometimes on our own, and we will fight the good fight because it’s worth it.

Well, I think it’s worth it at least. That’s why I write. That’s why I intern with Elizabeth. That’s why I started the blog. Give it a whirl. And until then: Rock n’ Roll and go get your work out there!

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