A Day in the Life of Literary Agent Suzie Townsend

Every month Pub(lishing) Crawl will be inviting a different member of the publishing industry (agents, editors, assistants, publicists, community managers, bloggers, etc.) to share a day in their life! Today we’re hosting Suzie Townsend, a literary agent at New Leaf Literary.

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

6:30 A.M. The first alarm goes off.

6:40 A.M. The second alarm goes off (I’m not a morning person). This time, I’m up. I quickly open up Mailbox on my phone before I get out of bed and check my email. A client has sent me a manuscript to read, but there’s nothing I have to respond to immediately. So I read The Skim. Then I email MarcyKate Connolly to wish her a happy pub day for Monstrous, and Victoria Aveyard to wish her a happy pub day for Red Queen.

7:10 A.M. Shower and get ready to leave.

7:50 A.M. Pause to check email (it’s an addition). There’s an email from an editor that I’m meeting for lunch tomorrow so that we can pick a time and place. Another editor wants to talk today. And a client wants to set up a phone call. I answer these. Everything else can wait.

8:20 A.M. I leave my apt for the office. I moved recently, and now the office is a twenty minute walk away. On the walk I listen to the Dear Sugar podcast. It feels like living the dream.

8:40 A.M. I arrive at office, after picking up a chai latte. The fabulous Jess Dallow is already there (she’s even earlier than me!). We chat about the Bologna subrights guide and a book of mine that just went to auction in Germany.

monstrous8:50 A.M. Emails! There are lots of replies to send. A few are things from yesterday or even the weekend that needed some contemplation. Most are from last night or this morning. There’s one editor from Italy who wants to schedule a meeting in Bologna, but most emails are from clients. I confirm receiving the manuscript, reply to a client about a cover reveal, answer a few questions about setting up events. Other emails are from editors. I answer an email about a deal announcement for next week, set up a lunch with an editor I haven’t met, ask questions about a price drop promotion opportunity, and reply to an editor who’s passed on a project. There are also a few emails from our amazing School and Library director. She’s freelance, but she and I have been working to put together panels at a few festivals and pitch NL clients for unique opportunities. Today there’s an email about a SLJ opportunity and some outstanding things we need to discuss. We set a time to jump on the phone.

9:30 A.M. I have breakfast with Temple Hill Productions. Mackenzie Brady arrives at the office about 10 minutes beforehand and we leave together for the Brooklyn Diner on 43rd (it’s so much better than your average diner). We meet Joanna Volpe, Pouya Shahbazian and two producers from Temple Hill there. We eat (I have the perfect yogurt breakfast, which is indeed perfect) and talk books. We talk Tracers by JJ Howard, since it’s a project we share. We also talk about trends and what we’d love to see.

11:05 A.M. I’m back at the office. I have so many emails (!). I missed Jackie Lindert’s trip to the post office (she’s already left), so I call Clementine and schedule a messenger for a package and complain when their website doesn’t work the way it should. In between answering a few emails, I check social media, particularly my client list on twitter. There are already some great pictures going up of Monstrous and Red Queen in the wild. And the books look gorgeous. My favorite is a picture of a “new books” display from an indie store. It shows both Monstrous and Red Queen, plus one other YA title and then five adult books.

12:15 P.M. NL team lunch. The lovely Danielle Barthel organized this since today is a day that we’re all here and not traveling. We leave a few minutes early and all walk over to the restaurant on 45th. We have a table in the back and somehow I end up sitting at the head of the table. Pouya and his assistant Chris are on either side of me. During lunch (I have a lobster salad which was awesome) we talk NL, books, movies. It’s great.

2:00 P.M. I make it back in the office by two. The emails have piled up, and there are a lot of things to answer.

2:35 P.M. An editor calls at our scheduled time and we discuss a potential project. When I get off the phone, I email the author to set up a time for the two of us to talk about said project. She can’t talk today so it’ll be later this week.

2:55 P.M. I call a client. I’m a few minutes early but she doesn’t mind. We discuss her next book and touch a little bit on branding and where we want her career to go with this next project.

3:15 P.M. When I get off the phone, I show Jess how to work in Adobe In Design. It’s her first year designing the Bologna rights guide and my minor in graphic design actually comes in handy.

3:40 P.M. I go back to emails. I alternate answering them and working on a Common Core lesson plan for one of my clients. The lesson plan and discussion guide were written by someone else, but there are a few things that need fine tuning. My former life as an English teacher comes in handy here. The lesson plan will be sent to the publisher for their use, but it will also go with a special mailing of the book in order to boost the visibility in the school and library market.

4:20 P.M. When the emails are almost handled, I handwrite a letter for a New Leaf client with Hannah Brencher’s amazing love letters kit.

4:30 P.M. I take a coffee break. Dave went out for coffee and brought me back a chai tea. I check social media and answer a few tumblr questions.

4:45 P.M. Back to emails. I finish writing up notes on a project and send that to the author. I also touch base with my contracts manager regarding two contracts that we’re negotiating with the publishers.

5:00 P.M. I discuss the German auction with Jess. Then Kathleen calls and we discuss some minor points regarding one of the German bids.

5:15 P.M. I leave office and head home. I had been hoping to make a yoga class at 5:30 but I left too late and now I won’t make it on time (there’s always tomorrow).

5:35 P.M. I pack for my trip to LA tomorrow and confirm my meetings (breakfast with an executive at Alloy, lunch with a client’s attorney, dinner with my sister before the Red Queen launch event at B&N at The Grove).red queen

6:20 P.M. I’m packed and mostly ready to leave in the morning. I sit down and read a client proposal and write down some edits.

8:10 P.M. Dinner is delivered (yay seamless). I set work aside and eat before watching WILD (which is amazing).

10:19 P.M. The movie is over. I check emails and finish my notes to the client on that proposal. I send it off and then get ready for bed.

10:50 P.M. The night ends with an episode of Family Guy (I’m currently netflixing season 11) and a few rounds of Candy Crush (which quiets my mind a little).

11:25 P.M. I’m in bed. Tomorrow I’ll do it all over again, except in LA from my iPad.

SuzieTownsendSUZIE TOWNSEND represents all brands of children’s and adult fiction. She is actively looking to build her list. In adult, she’s specifically looking for new adult, romance (all subgenres), fantasy (urban fantasy, science fiction, steampunk, epic fantasy) and crime fiction (mysteries, thrillers). In Childrens’ she loves YA (all subgenres) and is dying to find great Middle Grade projects. Suzie loves strong characters and voice driven stories that break out of the typical tropes of their genres.

For more info on her clients and projects, please go here. Read Suzie’s blog here and follow her on twitter.


11 Responses to A Day in the Life of Literary Agent Suzie Townsend

  1. Lori T Feb 13 2015 at 9:24 am #

    Wow! What a wildly busy schedule you have each day! It’s always so interesting to see these behind-the-scenes days of agents and agencies, to see how it all happens. Sounds like you guys have it all together! And congrats on getting Monstrous and Red Queen out there; I can’t wait to read both of them!

  2. Angelica R. Jackson Feb 13 2015 at 10:39 am #

    Wow, that is an intimidating workload–but I can see that it would keep things interesting, with the variety of tasks on your to-do list! All the best!

  3. Pat Feb 13 2015 at 11:36 am #

    Holy smokes, and I thought my days are busy. Well, guess we can’t say the life of a literary agent is boring! Great insight into their world!

  4. Alexia Chantel Feb 13 2015 at 3:30 pm #

    Email all day long. Sounds like my day but I have so been doing it wrong! You squeezed in a chai latte and a chai tea! Well done!

  5. Robin Feb 16 2015 at 3:05 pm #

    I love a look inside other people’s workdays. InDesign isn’t easy, I’m impressed. Please post a follow-up with tips for managing a high volume of emails 🙂

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  7. Tim Feb 24 2015 at 5:02 pm #

    An agent’s life is a busy one, and sure offers a lot of things to humblebrag about

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  10. Alison Apr 21 2015 at 5:28 pm #

    Wow, what a rough day. I don’t know what I’d do if I had to take a 1.5 hour breakfast and 2 hour lunch, leave the office by 5:15, watch a movie and TV show, and on top of ALL THAT play Candy Crush. Man. I’d probably burn out after a week.

  11. Sam Evans Aug 25 2016 at 2:28 am #

    Grateful for the insights. I kill myself with questions of the behind the scenes look at an agent. You answered many of them. If you are willing, can you answer a few more? How many MS submissions do you get a week? Of those, what percentage would you say is immediately rejected? How many manuscripts do you see that make it to the “next level”? If you have a MS that is worth reviewing a second time, what then?

    Patience is really hard to come by on the other end of the SEND button.


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