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.
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.