Wednesday, 3 September 2008

There is such a thing as a free lunch...

... and very nice it was too! :o)

I was REALLY nervous on the way to the agency's offices this afternoon but my agent was really welcoming and put me at ease. Her office was exactly as you'd imagine an agent's office to look - with bookshelves up the ceilings, lined with book after book after brightly coloured book and piled high with what looked like manuscripts. I so wanted to have a nose about but we only stayed in the office long enough for her to grab her bag and then we were off to the restaurant for lunch.

It was a Moroccan place and really nice (not surprising considering I was in a very nice part of West London). MsAgent asked me if I wanted a drink and looked a bit disappointed when I asked for a glass of wine so I let her talk me into sharing a bottle of very nice Chablis! She was totally lovely and as enthusiastic and excited about novel #1 as she was on the phone and via email. We made a bit of small talk as the wine kicked in then she gave me a copy of a novel by one of their newest chicklit authors (apparently it has sold over 90,000 copies. Wow...I can but dream!) and then talked about my novel a bit more and the changes she wants me to make before she starts approaching some editors. Luckily none of the changes are too substantial. Yay!

Then we talked about novel #2* and what I need to do to that. A bit of work to do on chapters 1 & 2 but she absolutely loved chapter 3. Hoorah!

After we'd eaten NiceMrAgent turned up to say hello (he's the one that owns the agency) and he was absolutely charming and had some wonderful things to say about my idea for novel #3.

Then we went on to have a general chat about everything and anything and, before I knew it, it was 3 hours later and time to go!

I've got a very busy month ahead of me. Somewhat optimistically (or is that stupidly?) I've agreed to make all the changes MsAgent requested by the end of September (for both novels!)

Better get moving...but maybe not tonight!

* If an agent asks for the full of your novel it's not a bad idea, whilst waiting for their feedback, to prepare an outline or synopsis for your second novel (and a first chapter if possible). That's because, as I found out today, if an agent signs you and wants to try for a two book deal they'll need to give editors your finished novel AND a synopsis/outline of novel #2 as well as 1-3 chapters.

Oh! And one more tip from today's meeting. When subbing to an agent make sure your cover letter is as good as you can make it. It's the first thing they read and they want to see some evidence that you've done some research about who they are and what they're about. So don't send a generic "Dear agent, here's my novel..." letter. Start your letter by saying why you've chosen that particular agency (you could mention other authors they represent for example, or the agent's reputation, or anything else that shows, as Ms Agent put it, "you've done your research").

I asked what MsAgent would read next and she said "the synopsis". I then asked how much of the 3 chapters she'd read before deciding whether or not a submission was for her. She said something along the lines of "if it hasn't grabbed me after 2 pages I'll stop reading". BigShot backed this up and said that the first page has to be as good as you can make it. So really, really concentrate on making your first chapter as good as you can get it before subbing.

18 comments:

Sarah*G* said...

So pleased you had a good meeting. Thanks for the advice too about prepping for subsequent books. I think after book 1 sits after being edited I will make a start on number 2. I have recently come up with an idea so that is stewing in my mind just now. You sound like you are going to have a busy month!! I am sure you will manage it. So happy it is all coming together for you and am only a teeny bit jealous... ok a lot jealous! LOL!!

Pat Posner said...

I knew you'd enjoy it all once you got there! Thank you for sharing the experience with us.
OMG, you've a busy month ahead, but more than worth it *smile* just think of the 90,000 copies the agency's 'last' new author sold.

DOT said...

Congrats again - I'd gone for a bottle of Krug myself. And thanks for the tips on submitting stuff

Yvonne said...

That is so helpful, thank you! And I'm delighted you got on so well. How exciting, you're living the dream...and if anyone can get the changes done by the end of Sept, it's you. x

Maddie Moon said...

Fascinating, Cally! It all sounds very positive and I'm sure you'll not have any problems getting those changes done before the end of September.

Thanks too for the tips, very useful to know.

Debs said...

So glad your meeting/lunch went so well, I'm sure you'll manage all the changes in time.

Thanks for all the tips too, most useful.

Dx

Lane said...

Congratulations once again. That is so exciting!
And thanks for the tips. You're a star!

JJ said...

OMG. So terrifying, but so exciting too. Very glad you had a good experience.

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

What Debs said... and thanks for sharing all this with us, it's really helpful and inspiring.

Bernadette said...

So glad it went well for you Cally - and things are looking good for the other books too! Well Done x 1 million!

The agent I met at Winchester said much the same things about submissions - except she doesn't even read the synopsis if she doesn't like the first page of the manuscript, so you are right about how exceptionally important it is.

Flowerpot said...

glad that went well - must have been so exciting. I can almost taste that Chablis now - yum! Well done you!nu

KAREN said...

So glad it went well, and thanks for the great advice too :o) You're not going to get much sleep for the next month!

Tam said...

Blimey, best get on with Teen Novel #2 then, although I'm now wondering what I could have done better when I sent Novel #1...

Glad it went well today and pleased you have an agent who has good taste in wine :-)

I'm really excited for you, thanks for sharing it all with us!

womagwriter said...

Good luck for the next month - glad the lunch went so well. Am VERY excited for you!

Pretentious Writer said...

Congratulations. Sounds like you're in for an interesting time in the next little while. Good luck!

Paige said...

I had to pluck up the courage to read this post. I wasn't going to. This is the company that have successfully squeezed any confidence I had out of me.

Sounds like a good day. Well done.

Kate.Kingsley said...

Wow Cally, that sounds like a dream lunch meeting!! So glad that its all going so well for you!

PS mmmmmmm, Chablis....... :-)

Leigh said...

The agent tips are sooooo useful to know.
And straight from the horse's mouth (so to speak).
I'm very excited for you.
Good luck over the next month, and I hope it all just slots into place.