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  1. #1
    Lauren
    Guest

    reading manuscripts for pay

    A few months ago several members responded encouragingly to my post about finding a job as an agent's assistant. I'm very grateful for all the help and advice I received. I can happily report that I've been interning at an agency for the past two months and loving every minute of it. However, I am still anxious to find paid work. I've discovered that some agencies pay freelance "readers" to go through a manuscript and write reports but I haven't been able to nail down any specific leads.

    Does anyone know of agents who are looking to hire such readers? I'm sure the agents I work with now would be glad to reccommend me.

    Many apologies if job-hunting is not the appropriate use of this forum...



  2. #2
    Lois
    Guest

    Re: reading manuscripts for pay

    Does your agency know what you're looking for? Maybe they'll pay you? No harm in asking. Publishing is a small world, and you must know the publishers your agency knows. Again, explain to the agency you're looking for a paying job, and if they can't use you in that capacity, perhaps one of their contacts might. Try networking that way.

    Two months isn't very long, however, and some places may want at least six months experience. Depends on the agency/publisher and your abilities.

    Good luck.

    Lois

  3. #3
    Heatherf
    Guest

    Re: reading manuscripts for pay

    If you subscribe to publishers lunch, there is always a listing for job postings - I've only flipped through them once out of curiosity (I'm not looking for a job), but they might have opportunities like that come up; I know they do have agent assistant jobs and the like.

  4. #4
    Gary Kessler
    Guest

    Re: reading manuscripts for pay

    Don't these freelance "readers" need to have established qualifications for making judgments on what they are sent to read? If not, what are they being paid for that would be worth anything? I do know of publishers who send manuscripts out for reading, but the people they send the manuscripts to either have sterling academic credentials in the field of the book (we call this process peer review) or have retired (usually recently) from full-time acquisitions positions in publishers publishing books of the same genre/category of the book farmed out.

  5. #5
    Lauren
    Guest

    Re: reading manuscripts for pay

    Thanks everyone for your insight and advice. To address some of the points raised:

    It's true that my two months may be a paltry bit of experience. Perhaps much of this type of work does go to folks who have been in the business for years. But I do know another intern who reads some manuscripts for pay. And yes, I've already asked for her advice, but unfortunately it didn't get me very far. Perhaps there are too few opportunities to make it practical to share information. Who knows.

    My agency knows I'm looking for paid work but I plan on asking for specific recommendations of any agents looking to hire either part-time assistants or freelance readers. I've asked in the past but maybe it's a matter of just being more persistent.

    I do subscribe to Publisher's Lunch & am always on the lookout for part-time assistant jobs. I did see one a few years ago when I was working full-time in the internet biz -- I just keep praying that I'll see one again!

    Thanks again & if anything miraculous occurs I'll be sure to post an update...

  6. #6
    Bernard Shakey
    Guest

    Re: reading manuscripts for pay

    You're not any less "qualified" to read manuscripts than anybody else starting out in the publishing business. It's not like editorial assistants at publishing houses have any special qualifications for the job of evaluating manuscripts.

    Something you might want to look into is being a freelance cold reader. A cold reader is somebody who looks over the galley proofs of a manuscript that s/he has never seen before, looking for errors. A lot of publishers farm this out to freelancers, and it's another way of getting your foot in the door of the publishing game.

  7. #7
    Gary Kessler
    Guest

    Re: reading manuscripts for pay

    Sure editorial assistants in a publishing house are more qualified to evaluate manuscripts for the publishing house than an off-site reader, Bernard. Publishing houses don't just select blindly--they are looking for books that fit their catalog. Editorial assistants in the publishing house are right there where they see all the work going on in putting the books together. They know the acquisitions editors personally and they know on a daily basis what has been contracted and what the house is still looking for. this isn't the one-dimensional industry (as seen through the author's eyes) as is so often supposed here.

    Would like some citations on publishers who are still looking over the galley proofs themselves. The publishing houses I know about have only the author reading the galleys in detail and the managing editor or a senior editor doing highly trained scans at various points in the process.

  8. #8
    Sally
    Guest

    Re: reading manuscripts for pay

    A friend of mine reads for SS for pay -- not much, but better than nothing. She has zip publishing experience, zip editorial experience. How'd she land the job? She met the Sr. Editor while on a scuba diving trip in Cancun and the two gals became fast friends. My friend's experience? She's an avid reader in the editor's genre.

    It's not only what you know, but who you know.

    Sally

  9. #9
    Gary Kessler
    Guest

    Re: reading manuscripts for pay

    So, there's your answer, Lauren. Take scuba diving lessons.

  10. #10
    Bernard Shakey
    Guest

    Proofing galleys

    My current editor was a freelance cold reader before becoming an editorial assistant at one of the big houses.

    The galleys for my current book are going to be proofed line by line by at least three people: me, my editor, and a cold reader (I don't know if the cold reader will be in house or freelance). In fact we'll be doing this over the next ten days, as the galleys arrived today.

    I don't know if this is the standard practice at the big houses, or whether my editor is unusually diligent. I know from first-hand experience it's not how things are done at academic and smaller commercial presses, where as you note galley proofreading is pretty much solely the author's responsibility.

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