Poets & Writers

How to Get Paid

MICHAEL BOURNE is a contributing editor of Poet & Writers Magazine.

LIKE countless young writers before him, John Cusick moved to New York City, in 2007, to pursue his dream of literary stardom. Having worked for a university press in college, Cusick looked for a job in publishing, but the best he could find to start out was a part-time gig as a personal assistant and dog-walker for literary agent Scott Treimel.

“My first duties were right out of The Devil Wears Prada,” says Cusick. “I was the guy walking down the street with this huge dog on a leash and laundry over one arm and the phone to my ear.”

Playing Anne Hathaway to Treimel’s Meryl Streep didn’t pay especially well either. While living in a bedbug-infested apartment in Brooklyn, Cusick earned about $350 a week from various part-time jobs. “I had this great plan, which was that if I bought two hot dogs for lunch from the local vendor, that was four dollars for food that day,” he recalls.

But Cusick quickly graduated from walking Treimel’s dog and fetching his dry-cleaning to helping the agent with foreign rights and book contracts, and within a couple of years, Cusick had begun taking on clients of his own. Meanwhile Treimel. It was published by Candlewick Press in 2010. Cusick has since written two more novels—his latest, , is due out from HarperCollins next year—and now works as an agent at Folio Literary Management.

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