Literary Scout

Literary Scout


New York, NY

Female, 0

Literary scouts work with foreign publishers to help determine which American books they should acquire. We spend our days (and nights!) reading manuscripts, writing reports, meeting with agents and publishers, and speaking with clients to keep them apprised of developments. Scouts don’t make much money, but the perks and fun help make up for that.

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31 Questions


Last Answer on April 11, 2013

Best Rated

What's your personal record for most manuscripts read in a day?

Asked by Ruxpin over 12 years ago

Probably two is the max. Keep in mind manuscripts may be between 250-800+ pages. I'm a pretty quick reader and could maybe somehow manage three, but you also want to be paying enough attention to what you're reading that you can write a 3 page report on it and discuss it in detail.

Are you evaluated on anything other than the commercial success of the books you get published?

Asked by Hutch over 12 years ago

I would say that a successful scout needs good taste, an understanding of what makes a manuscript commercially viable, a nose for tracking down sources for the next big thing, and the ability to form strong, long-lasting bonds with clients. When clients are in town it's the scouts who typically arrange their schedules, go to some meetings with them, and meet with them frequently throughout the day. During books fairs we spend days with each other, going out for drinks, dinners, more drinks, etc. That friendship is what keeps clients with scouts for years and may cause them to follow a scout who leaves an agency.

I'm currently a freelance reader. What would be my next step toward becoming a scout? Thanks!

Asked by Nicole about 12 years ago

There are very, very few scouting agencies, so positions are hard to come by. Try talking to any agents you know and looking on Publisher's Marketplace and Media Bistro.

If you were designing a high school curriculum and could hand-pick the the books students would read, name 5 that would make your list.

Asked by Kyle over 12 years ago

Is there a particular theme? If we are just talking in terms of great books that provide high schoolers a range of genres and concepts and are extremely readable, I'd go with the below. 1984 - Cinematic and an engulfing read that demonstrates the dangers of fascist governments. Also a good jumping off ground to discuss our society's willingness to destroy our own privacy with Facebook and such. Rebecca -A beautiful gothic novel that is well-written and creepy. It shows "literature" doesn't have to be intimidating. Go Tell It on the Mountain - Good jumping off point to discuss race, social class, and generational confusions between parents and kids. Death Of a Moth - Collection of short, very readable essays that provide a good example for a personal essay writing lesson. My Name is Asher Lev - Exposure to a world most kids are totally unfamiliar with and a good opportunity to discuss kids being torn between getting their parents' approval and finding their own identity.

Can a novelist achieve success through self-publishing, or is a traditional publisher required to really make things happen?

Asked by Mark over 12 years ago

There is the very rare story of a breakout self-publishing hit like The Shack, but it’s atypical. There are so many self-published books out there that it is almost pointless to spend time trying to weed out the good from the bad. This is why we really only work with agents and publishers. For example, scouts started reading The Shack only after it had been acquired by a large publishing house.

What recent best-sellers do you think are TOTALLY overrated??

Asked by Tried and Trudy over 12 years ago

I have to say that I really, really disliked Sarah's Key. The Tiger's Wife was pretty good, but didn't blow me away. A Visit from the Goon Squad was terrific, but the last few chapters really disappointed.

Who do literary scouts work for? (e.g. publishers, talent agencies, film companies?)

Asked by Mari55a over 12 years ago

Scouts work for foreign publishing houses, but can also work for film companies to assist them in deciding what books might do well as movies.