Internly Insights #3: Behind the Job

This week, I’m tackling another question about my internship.

Little Wonder Lauren asked:

I’d be interested in hearing more about how you assess manuscripts. Is it like writing book reviews for your site? What kinds of things do you include? Did you do the same things at your other internship?

I deal with basically two different types of manuscripts: ones from potential clients and others from clients already signed with The Agency.

The ones from potential clients: These can be put in two different sub-categories: queries and requested materials. Queries are usually only a sample of twenty pages or so which makes it difficult to assess it like I would as a full book/manuscript. I have to judge based on the synopsis and the three chapters or so whether or not it might have potential before I request for more / reject. Sometimes it gets a little tricky because in most novels, nothing really happens yet. It’s hard to tell whether or not I’ll like a story from so early in the beginning. What makes it easy to reject? Poor writing and a dull voice. The query letter itself can also make it or break it.

As for full manuscripts, I am allowed to do a hundred page read. Of course, if I like it, I read on, but if the manuscript is just mediocre, then I usually write up a summary from a paragraph to a couple of paragraphs similar to a book review. I say what I like and didn’t like about it. And not just necessarily about the plot – I have to take in consideration that elements in a novel can change. I look out specifically that can’t be changed by an agent: the writer’s style, voice, and writing skill.

What makes this different than previous internships is that the rejection is not solely based upon me. I had a lot more freedom, I think, than my current internship allows. I have no problem with this of course. Just sayin’.

The ones already signed with the Agency: These kind of readings (okay technically, reading – since I’ve only done one of them) are my favorite because it allows for a more in-depth analysis of the manuscript. It goes beyond a book review because I can actually point out certain things and minor details that I didn’t like or loved. I can say, that part where x and y happen is really confusing. Or I really don’t get z’s intention. I can comment about dialogue, scenes, characters, etc. When the story is really good, it’s hard to point out its faults, but it also makes it fun to imagine just how much better it can get!

I had very little opportunity to do this with my previous internship – and when I did, it wasn’t necessarily with a client or published author so it was a lot different. With the manuscripts of books to be published, I also didn’t deal with the story line other than consistency but more along the lines of grammar, punctuation, typos, etc.

I hope that answers your question, Lauren!

Questions? Comments? I’ll address anything you’re wondering about internship-related things all at my next Internly Insights post!


  1. Oh wow this is cool ^_^. I didn’t know you were interning with a publisher. Do you wish to be an editor or have you not decided specifically and are just figuring out what part of the industry you want to be in?

    This isn’t a behind the scenes question I’m just curious ^_^.

    1. I’m actually interning for a lit agency at the moment! I’d love to be an editor, but now I’m also considering becoming an agent. :) Thanks for stopping by!

  2. This answers my question! Thanks for pointing me in the right direction. :)

    Here’s another stupid question: Is there a job title that does what you’re describing here? I’m not sure how clear that is. I mean, if I wanted to apply to do the job you’re describing here, what would be the name of the position I would be applying for? I hope that makes sense!

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