... 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.