Agents In The Mist

Literary agents are furtive creatures. In my years of sending stories and novels to them, I never got one to show any interest. This used to concern me. Perhaps they were just stupid, and didn’t see my obvious talents. Or perhaps I was just a talentless hack who’d serve society better if turned into glue. But finally, after another round of head-shakes, I decided to bite the bullet (ow) and go meet them. In London, that is, where all the agents live in a sparkly cave lined with the skulls of failed supernatural romance authors.

Literary-Agent-Cat-Iz-On-Da-Job

I booked passage on White Thrash Airways and bought a ticket for the Getting Published Event. Click the link, and you’ll get the idea — talks, lectures, tips and a chance to meet actual people working in publishing. Now I won’t tell you too much, as you should bloody well go there and find out for yourself, but I did learn many valuable things. Here’s a few of them, minus the best ones which I plan to hold tight and safe in my sweaty grasp.

1. To get an agent just write a good book and don’t be an idiot.

2. If you sent your book to ten agents, and they all say no, it just isn’t good enough. Rewrite, or do another one.

3. You need to know what your book is about, and what sets it apart from others.

4. Stop using bloody adverbs all over the bloody place. Just use a stronger verb instead.

I also met a great group of people who were immediately easygoing and friendly. And I realised how much I miss being always surrounded by my own language. Being an alien does suck.

So what next? Well, I realised the book I brought with me wasn’t good enough, so instead of trying to massage it into shape I’m just going to focus on my new book, which is 60% done, and a whole lot better. Plus it has a central idea that I can explain in a few seconds and make an agent’s eyes glaze over with glee.

There’s nothing more to say, really. I think I’ve finally understood how I am supposed to write, and have a plan for how I will continue. And that information is worth any number of hours in cattle-class on Ryanair, surrounded by ignorant, drunk, farting Swedes from the country, all of them called Lasse.

/ paddy

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Pathetic Postage Plea

I am currently sending off The Novel to those pointy-headed demons known as “agents” so that they can ridicule me with their form-letter replies. Nothing new there. Except now I have exhausted all relevant agents and publishers in the UK who accept email submissions (about eight, all told) and have to move to the next step. This entails printing out a lump of the The Novel and actually posting it. In the mail. With a stamp and everything.

In theory, this is fine. In practise, it’s akin to an itchy case of pubic lice. You see, since the fine ladies and gentlemen of the publishing world will not reply by email even to say “piss off” to aspiring writers, I have to send them a stamped self-addressed envelope for the conveyance their hateful little notes. This requires that I either get hold of some British stamps to put on said letters, or else send international reply coupons.

And there the shit deepens. The Swedish post office stopped selling international reply coupons about ten years ago. “There’s too little demand,” they told me. Well, maybe, but aren’t you the fucking POST OFFICE? And if you don’t sell them in Sweden, who does? Nobody, turns out to be the answer.

So onto option two – get hold of some UK stamps. Which seemed easy to do via the Royal Mail’s site. I picked out my stamps, picked my country, paid with my Visa card, and got a confirmation mail. And then the next day I got a mail from a dude at the Royal Mail to tell me that unfortunately, they couldn’t sell me the stamps I had already paid for since I lived “abroad”.

But why, I asked, did your site allow me to buy stamps at all, since it asked me for my country, and I told it, before it TOOK MY MONEY? Our site is shit, the dude explained. So sorry, but no stamps today. Money shall be returned. And here, contact this office in the Royal Mail and they can help you.

I mailed that office. They never replied. Plus my money was not returned. I mean, Jesus on a hover-board, how hard can it be to buy some fucking UK stamps from the fucking UK POST OFFICE?

Deep breath. Right, the only other option (short of taking a Ryanair flight to London) is to find a nice English person and ask them to go down the road, buy a booklet of first-class international UK stamps, and post them to me. So that’s what I have been reduced to.

Please, blog readers in the UK, buy me some stamps and I’ll send you a number of shiny new shillings to cover their purchase and transport. Or else the story of two Irish expats in Stockholm and their sexual misadventures will never see the light of day at all. And that would be a bloody shame.

/ paddy