I know that assistants are the underdogs who are often asked to perform ridiculous task after ridiculous task, work with master manipulators and certifiable sociopaths, and I totally feel for those of you who do all this while maintaining a sense of humor and a lick of sense. Sadly, those assistants are in the minority. And I should know — I've burned
few through — see, that's why I need an assistant! — quite a few of them during the course of my career. Hey young'uns: read on to find out who you shouldn't be if you actually, for some reason, want to forge a future in this crazy business.
- The Crier
She was teacher's pet, the straight-A student, never had a bad thing happen to her in her whole mediocre upper-middle-class life . . . until she got a job as an editorial assistant. Now her boss sometimes asks her to make some copies in a not-so-nice voice, and suddenly this chick's in the bathroom sniveling about her cruel, cruel fate. She's the type to send a carefully worded email explaining how you hurt her feelings when you disagreed with her about that crappy submission about Internet dating that she had in. Oh, and did you happen to look at her the wrong way in editorial meeting? Yeah, count on waterworks.
- The Know-it-All
Pssh. This dude doesn't know why he's not already running the place. I mean, it's clear the assholes at the top are just on auto-pilot. He'll be the first to tell you what you should do, and how he "totally called" every sleeper bestseller in the past year. He barely does his work because it's kind of beneath him, and spends his time instead working on his resume. He's gunning for Sr. Editor by 30. Sad thing is, dick will probably get it.
- The Undercover Writer
She went into publishing thinking she could make the connections to get her book published and have enough time during the day to work on her secret Great American Novel or Memoir about her Grandma/Drinking Habit/Slutty Behavior. She wasn't expecting the insane work load. Or actually having to work on other people's books. Or the disillusionment that sets in when you stand by and watch retarded 20-somethings make seven figures on a book deal for dumb last-name reasons. Sad! Well, not really.
- Ass Kisser
Perhaps the most offensive of the lot. He is so transparent in his clawing-his-way-to-the-topness, he pretty much secretes schmooze wherever he goes. There is not one authentic word in his vocabulary. The president/publisher/editorial director's favorite book is totally also his! Sadly, this brown-noseyness (and ability to flirt with men and women alike) will take him far. But not far enough away from me.
- The Heirhead
Can't blame her for getting into publishing through hereditary connex — sadly, that's the name of the game in this biz. Here's the thing though: she's completely useless because she feels like she shouldn't actually *have* to work hard at anything except dropping names and making insidery jokes. If you work alongside her, count on picking up some slack. And if she works for you, but was hired because her daddy's bff with your boss, uh, try not to kill yourself.
- Trytoohardy girl
Maybe she was just born a Tracey-Flick-esque maniac. All I know is, she needs to relax before she pulls a fucking muscle—or somebody smacks her. This girl is on 'go' from the second she gets out of HR training. Scheduling drinks with agents before her first month in publishing is up. She organizes the fucking drinks parties and sends out the lame Evites cracking what she thinks are hilarious insidery jokes. People go to her parties, sure. But all they talk about at them is how annoying she is.
- Max Perkins Jr.
He laments the lost days of serious book publishing and waxes (badly) poetic about Max Perkins and three-martini lunches, ignoring the fact that he's 12 and not even his parents were alive during the "good old days." He's pretty much wearing a fedora on the inside.
- I know I'm forgetting someone. Help a brother/sister out and finish this list for me. I have to go yell at my assistant now for bringing me a lukewarm cup of coffee. Kidding! I'm going to send a passive-aggressive email instead.
Unsolicited is a hoary old publishing veteran. Hoary doesn't mean what you're thinking.