Observing the present state of affairs, Jane Friedman says, “Never before have I seen so much activity, service, and business ideas focused on ‘helping’ writers as during this period.” She’s concerned that turbulent times will cause desperate writers to waste their money on help that might not be very helpful. She’s right. They will, because everyone’s looking for a fast track.
On the other hand, disruption, innovation, and transformation always create demand for new services. Job seekers might be interested to know where the demand currently outstrips the supply. It’s necessary to point out that this is just a temporary situation. As soon as a gap is detected, the most enterprising will rush to fill it. The following list won’t be of much value six months or a year from now. I’m merely observing that qualified individuals offering these skilled professional services seem to be in short supply at the moment:
Foreign rights agents are scarce in developing markets.
Online community managers
Virtual assistants—formerly known as secretaries—can help prepare manuscripts, track submissions, maintain calendars, etc.
Oddly enough, although freelance copyeditors and developmental editors are not rare, they’re elusive, because most of them don’t have websites advertising their services.
Literary magazines number in the thousands, but literary event organizers are less visible and, I presume, less common. The most viable of the new literary publications serve multiple functions. They offer a way for writers to achieve recognition for their work in print or online, and they also create a supportive and competitive community by organizing literary events, workshops, mentoring programs, fundraisers, outreach, residencies, and contests. Maybe they’re simply a variation of the old-school networks, but I don’t think so. In any case, the best of these endeavors are characterized by a distinctive energy that sets them apart. I’ll leave it to someone else to elaborate on the concept, but it’s something to watch.