Friday, November 18, 2011

On Being the Assistant to Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

So, I mentioned in my YARebels video this week that I'd do a small write-up to chat about the things I just didn't have time to talk about in 4 minutes.  I'm going to try to answer a few questions before they come up, but you're welcome to ask more.

Q: How did you get such an amazing job?
A:  By complete chance.  Seriously.  I had recently moved to Massachusetts to open an art studio, and had juuuust gotten a job waiting tables--which meant I was done with the jobsearch.  But my housemate was still looking, and she found an add on Craigslist (yes, it is for more than creepy stalkers) that just read '2 YA Fantasy Authors Seeking an Assistant.'  No names.  I thought, heck, why not?  They're probably just locals with a book or two out, could be fun.  THEN I GOT THE EMAIL BACK, and realized NOT ONLY who the add was for, but that they had a studio/office right next to mine.  I have always believed in strange acts of Fate.  Life consistantly reminds me of this.  I had the interview (I was freaking out) and yeah.  The rest is history.

Q: What is your favorite moment from working with them?
A: The booksigning.  In my first month of work for them, I was invited along to a local booksigning.  I got to the shop after they did and the clerk saw me over the sea of heads (being tall with white hair is a serious perk in crowds, let me tell you.) and ushered me over.  I got to stand behind-the-scenes with their friends (Elka Cloke, who did the poems in a few of CC's books) a rep from Simon and Schuster.  I handed out Magnus+Alec postcards while they were signing.  After, we all went to dinner.  That's when I realized that that was the life I wanted.  Saying that, the small moments--going out for lunch/coffee/whatever--and getting to chat were just as important.

Q: But what exactly did you do?
A: Ummm...  Think of what a secretary does.  That's what I did.  I helped manage their calendars, organized the office, sorted mail, took things to the post office.  When Holly was around, I made coffee.  I also helped paint a blackboard and make Seeing Stones.  :)

A: Actually.... Holly and Cassie are busy.  Verybusy.  That's why they had me.  I wasn't there to help generate ideas, I was there to keep the non-creative side of their lives running smoothly.  So, although I was around them a lot, I'm not lying when I say the people who run their fansites know more about their lives than I do.  About the only thing I had insight on was their tour schedule, and you can find that on their websites. ;)

Q: So, obviously they helped you get a book deal.
A: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.  If the publishing world worked that way, trust me, there'd be a lot more book deals floating around.  If you think about the amount of say authors get in their book covers (...none...), you can imagine how much clout they'd have recommending their bffs to a publishing house.

Q: Why did you leave such an amazing job?
A: I ask myself that a lot, actually.  No, in seriousness, I wouldn't have left the job if external situations (IE that restaurant I mentioned closed down, and nowhere within 30mins was hiring.  So I decided grad school was the next best thing to having an income) hadn't made it a necessity.  I also wasn't so happy in that area.  I missed Scotland too much.  Trust me, if I could be in both places at once, I would.

Q: Would you recommend being an author's assistant for those interested in publishing/getting published?
A: No.  As I said, I was basically a secretary with some unique duties.  If you're interested in getting into publishing, work for a publishing house.  If you're interested in getting published, do the leg work of writing, researching, networking, etc.  Don't take on a job because you think it will get you somewhere--that's bound to lead to you not caring about what you're actually paid to do, which will only ruin the chance of moving ahead.  An author's assistant is precisely what the title entails: you are there to help the author succeed.  Everything else is just candy.  Magical, magical candy....


Siobhán @ Totally Bookalicious said...

Great post! Watched the vlog aswell.

Very interesting and yeah, I am just a wee bit jealous Cassandra Clare is amazing!! Love her books.

Oh and yeah Scotland. Hope your enjoying being over here in (not so sunny) Scotland. Lol.

Siobhán @ Totally Bookalicious

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