|Canadian writers Dana Ramstedt (left) and Fern Hinse (right) with agent Elizabeth Kracht in Tiburon.|
At last year's Surrey International Writers' Conference (SiWC), they held an auction to raise money for the conference. Beforehand, the organizers asked me if I had anything to contribute, like books our agency had sold. I knew I didn't want to cart books with me from California, but tried to think of something else that might be helpful and of interest to writers.
Before I became a literary agent, I thought of myself as a writer. In fact, I got closer to the industry to figure out how to get published. One of the biggest eye openers for me as a writer, was interning at Kimberley Cameron & Associates. After reading through hundreds of submissions over that six-month period, certain, almost template, patterns emerged; every manuscript had its Achilles heel, however small. Most inspiring to me, was having the opportunity and perspective to see those template mistakes. This opportunity is a real gift to any writer, I thought.
I asked Kimberley if we could auction off a three-day internship at the agency and she said yes. Traveling from Canada to California for a three-day internship is no small undertaking, so I wasn't sure if it would be of interest. But after the conference, I soon received an e-mail putting me in touch with Dana Ramstedt, who won the internship and was eager to begin making arrangements to come and read for us.
Nearly a year to the date she won the auction, Dana has not only put in her three days, but also brought a writer from her critique group along with her, Fern Hinse, who has also been reading for us. In these three days they've had a peek at the inner workings of a literary agency, from reading submissions and sending those rejection letters no writer wants to give (much less get), to overhearing conversations between agents, editors, and writers, and getting feedback on their own work. They also had to listen to me grumble a couple times.
It has been a real pleasure and honor to have Dana and Fern with us, and we are very grateful for their help in reading submissions as well as the other contributions they made while interning for us. I'm hoping to get one of them to contribute a guest blog on their experience at the agency!
As a side note, if you're looking for a great conference to attend, the SiWC is a warm, fun community of writers, and one of the best conferences I've had the good fortune of attending.