A Favorite Book and How it Led me to Books & Such

NCWA welcomes Rachel Kent! Rachel will be conducting a workshop at NCWA’s Renewal Conference. See end of post for links.

I would like to share about a book that is a favorite of mine that led me to my position at Books & Such.  I’m asked at writers conferences about the journey to my job all the time, so it’s nice to get to share it with all of you, too…

Waterfalls by Robin Jones Gunn is a story about a woman who works as an editor. There’s much more to it, of course, including that she falls in love with a movie star and talks to her goldfish, but the editor part is the most important for my journey.

I decided after reading Waterfalls that I wanted to be an editor. The main character of Robin’s book, Meri, got to work from home in her pj’s and read all day. Sounds pretty nice! She did have to speak at a writers conference, but I was going to pass on that part. So at 16-years-old I knew that I wanted to get an English degree and become an editor. Just about everything I knew about publishing at the time came from that book. I didn’t know anything about literary agents.

During college, I was looking for an internship anywhere because all of the first-time jobs for assistant editors require at least two years of publishing experience. I didn’t really want to move to New York for a summer to work for free as an intern at a publishing house, but that was looking like my best option. I asked a few women at my church to pray for an internship for me, and within days Michelle from our agency contacted me. Michelle goes to my church and was told about me by one of the women I talked with. As a writer herself, Michelle tries to take off the summers to write; so Janet was looking for someone to fill in for Michelle. Janet was willing to call my work an internship, it was 10 minutes from my house, and she was going to pay me! I still had no idea what a literary agency was, but the job sounded good to me.

I worked at Books & Such for two summers and then for a year after I graduated as an intern. At that point, Janet offered me a job as an agent. I guess she liked me.  She had been training me during that time for my agenting job and continues to help out when I have questions. Agenting is different from my original “dream” of being an editor, but I think it’s a great fit for who I am. I love my job!

And there was frosting on the cake: Janet represents Robin Jones Gunn! I’ve been able to work with Robin on some special projects she needed done, and we’ve formed a friendship.

God sure knows what he’s doing, and I’m grateful to know he’s in control of my life. And speaking at the conferences isn’t so bad either!

What about you? Did a book influence you toward wanting to be a writer? I’d love to hear your story.

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Rachel Kent will be conducting “Query Quest: What Agents Look for in a Client” workshop at NCWA’s Renewal Conference. Click here for more information.

 Rachel Kent started at Books & Such as a summer intern while she was attending U.C. Davis. She graduated from Davis in three years with a bachelor’s degree in English and minors in both religious studies and psychology. After graduating, Rachel worked part-time at the agency as an assistant. She was promoted to agent in 2007. Rachel’s goal is to develop strong relationships with her authors and to help them to develop lasting relationships with their editors and publishers.
Rachel acquires fiction and nonfiction projects with a special interest in YA, 20-something and 30-something projects.

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