Tuesday, September 19, 2006

A day in the life of Peter Rubie

Just to give you an idea of what an agent's day is like here is

A day in the life of Peter Rubie

Peter Rubie Peter Rubie specializes in a broad range of high-quality fiction and non-fiction.

In non-fiction he specializes in narrative non-fiction, popular science, spirituality, history, biography, pop culture, business and technology, parenting, health, self help, music, and food. He is a "sucker" for outstanding writing. In fiction he represents literate thrillers, crime fiction, science fiction and fantasy, military fiction and literary fiction.

Well the joke has it as: make phone call, open check. Actually, one of the things I love about my job is that no day is exactly the same. It is a job that involves constant reinvention in order to stay abreast of the needs and demands of the times which are ever changing. Currently we're dealing with editors who take longer than ever to respond, companies who take longer than ever to pay, and faint rumblings from various quarters that the publishing industry is in its latter days -- something I don't believe. However, the approaching shadow of the electronic revolution is looming. and the role of an agent and the industry itself is undergoing -- or soon will undergo -- a profound change.

I start my day about 9:30 am by going over telephone and email messages from overnight. A lot of publishing, perhaps as much as 50% now is conducted electronically. I do some book-keeping, go over contracts, transact foreign business because of the time difference (the end of their day is usually the beginning of mine), attend a weekly staff meeting and chat with my assistants about ongoing projects, like developing sub rights leads for likely agency titles and so forth. Often there is a lunch date with an editor that lasts from 12:30 to 2:30pm where we get a feel for how and whether our tastes match. A good lunch can be defined by the editor wanting to see some of our current projects, and a sense that maybe a client will find a good home with this person. Agenting, more than anything, is about matchmaking and deal-making material that you care strongly about.

In the afternoon I catch up with lunchtime messages, make submissions and get them ready to be mailed. (Most submissions are still made on hard copy.) Make calls to editors to boost them along in their reading tardiness, and then I call Hollywood agents, and clients towards the end of the day.

Sometimes there are drinks meetings after work, though in my case I have a wife working in the theatre and a 3 1/2 year old, so I don't do a lot of after work events these days. Once my kid and I have had supper together and read some stories it's time for him to go to sleep. I unwind for an hour or so and at about 11 pm I start reading manuscripts and proposals for a while.

One day soon I hope to start work on a new novel. Wouldn't that be a kick . . .

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