School’s out

School’s out – and not just for the summer. After over twenty years as a librarian in special, public, and school libraries, I’m making a sea change.

I’ve loved being a librarian, most especially in public and school libraries. Nothing beats a child telling you that the book you helped them choose is the Best. Book. Ever! But in the prevailing educational climate, I found myself sailing against the wind and battling the tides too often. Not too mention, I’m not a teacher. Teachers are great! Librarians who are teachers are great!

But I’m not one of them. I’m just a librarian. I should say, I WAS just a librarian.

(Is being a librarian like being Jewish or Catholic? You no longer practice librarianship, but you still are one? And how come you never hear of lapsed Buddhists or Muslims or Baptists, even? Something to think about.)

As of yesterday, I am now … drum roll, please… the Assistant for the Dunham Literary Agency! 🙂

I’m looking forward to learning even more about the business side of publishing. The seed was planted a couple summers ago at the NJSCBWI conference. I was chatting with new writing friends, a couple of whom were agented and published, when I mentioned that being an agent seemed  interesting. The new friends agreed, and someone said “You’d be a great agent!” whereupon another new friend said, “I’d be your client!”

I laughed and thanked them – that was quite a compliment coming from a published author – but demurred. I couldn’t do that, I thought. I don’t have enough experience. I don’t have the contacts.

But the seed was planted, and it grew. I kept thinking about it. What does an agent need to know? What people like to read. What makes a good book. Who might publish this book. How to negotiate contracts.

Huh. As a librarian, I know what people like to read. Part of the job is spending much of your time reading, reviews at least. (Nope, you don’t get paid to read all day.)

As a reader and a writer, I know what makes a good book. I’ve been reading since I was three years old, and I average a couple hundred books a year. I’ve only written one book, but I’m working on a second, and I take classes and work on my craft in many ways, from conferences to craft books to my critique group. I also spent much of the past year as an intern for an agency, reading manuscripts for a great kid lit agent. The slush pile is a great education in itself.

Who might publish a book? Well, no, I don’t have very many editorial contacts. But I’m willing to network and work on that. Plus submitting a book for sale to publishing houses is a lot like querying agents for submission. I’ve done that. And I can get better at it , especially with mentoring.

Surprisingly, I also know how to negotiate contracts because of my experience as a librarian. As a special librarian for corporations and government agencies, I managed budgets and vendors – my last budget as a library manager was just over a million dollars for a global consulting firm. Again, I’m willing to apply what skills I have and learn even more from the agents I work for.

So, school is out for me for the foreseeable future. (I won’t say for good. I’ve learned to never say never.) As I adjust to my new job and enjoy summer in the city, Z is for Zampetti will be on hiatus.

I’ll be back once I’ve figured out this new direction and an appropriate Twitter bio. (L is for Lapsed Librarian? Literary Agency Assistant.? Hmmm…)

Happy summer and when it’s time to go back to school – I won’t be. But I will be back here. 🙂






6 thoughts on “School’s out

  1. Awesome, congratulations Leslie! I always thought being an agent seemed like an interesting profession too. I wish you the best of luck as you follow this new life path. 🙂

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