The Meetings - following straight on from Part 1
Step back for a moment please – this part really makes me *bounce*. It is like a dream come true except I never ever allow myself to fantasise anything as good as this.
I have a pounding head and heart, dry mouth and cannnot sleep. I am utterly delighted to be meeting with 4 agents but know I need to calm myself, keep a straight face, ask the right questions and secure the best agent for my career.
I message some lovely agented writers on twitter who come back with questions for me to ask. They are kind and supportive and give me a confidence boost.
I pack my satchel and the notebook my best friend gave me for Christmas. Questions already copied out a page per question.
She has written a note in it. It seems apt.
I am nervous. I play some rousing music. There may be a song with the word ROAR featuring heavily. Can’t say.
I travel to London by train from the South Coast. I miss my train connection whilst emailing another agent my full (yes that did actually happen). I call Billy - long suffering husband - and he tells me which route to take and calms me down. I end up standing in the middle of Picadilly circus like the provincial nobody I am, texting the first lovely agent to say I have not a clue where I am going. He rescues me.
I meet 3 agents in one afternoon, each one kindly delivering me to the next as I don’t know London (and have scary manic owl eyes). 5 hours of back to back meetings. It is a complete head-spin to hear my novel admired by these respected industry professionals.
I manage to maintain dignity when all I want to do is hug each agent and scream
“Are you sure? Thank you - thank you so much! Are you really sure it’s me you want? That it’s my writing you love? Yes of course I’ll bloody well sign with you. Quick before you change your mind!”
Even though I would happily sign with any one of these brilliant people, I have to make a sensible career decision. I ask for a week to think.
I go home, hug my kids and Billy. I chill, drink wine, smile and let the realisation of what is happening sink in. I relax a little. I remember Amanda Preston, one of the first agents I ever researched a year ago. She rejected my previous draft before Christmas but I’ve not yet resubmitted this fresh draft to her. I email her my new query and sample on Friday evening. She replies a few hours later saying she’d like to see the rest. By now it’s late and I’ve been celebrating with friends and *bubbles* have been involved.I email Amanda the full but forget the attachment. Rookie alert!
She emails straight back saying please attach it, she wants to read on. I blearily own up to the *bubbles* and she seems to laugh over e-mail. I feel we would get along and I’m crazy flattered she’s reading my manuscript on a Friday night.I meet another agent on Saturday – he is awesome too. The choice is becoming impossible. All agents have different ideas for edits and different strategies and as a total newbie, I can see merits in all of them. Everyone tells me to go with my gut. My gut enters cryogenic stasis (you’ll see more of that in my novel).
On Monday Amanda e-mails to say she, and her colleague Louise Lamont both love the manuscript and she invites me to the LBA offices (in beautiful Bloomsbury). I have a great feeling about this meeting.
Amanda and Louise are lovely, but it is their edits win me over. We chat for 2 hours and their ideas chime with me the most. They will probably give me the most work (I have not yet received these edits) but they have ways to solve niggling main character problems I knew existed but couldn’t figure out for myself. I like that they are a small but well-established agency with a great reputation. They are clearly the manuscript wizards I need, have utter faith in my writing ability, but also swoon over my characters and get the essence of what I am trying to achieve. I decide to go with them during the meeting but make myself sleep on it for a night.
I email the 3 agents still reading the full to tell them to stop reading. I can’t handle any more meetings or choice. They seem flatteringly disappointed, but grateful I haven't wasted their time.
Thursday 27th March I email Amanda and Louise my acceptance of their offer of representation. They seem thrilled. I am THRILLED. And very relieved it is over.The rejection e-mails to the 4 agents who also want to sign me are tough to write. After months desperately seeking an agent, it feels wrong to turn someone down that I admire and respect. I admit I feel sick and tearful, especially over one of them who I had really clicked with and thought I would go with before I met LBA. I now understand that rejecting can sometimes be almost as hard as being rejected (almost).
I have an agent. Just over seven months after I started querying. I keep expecting the bubble to burst.
I feel great. Truly. I cannot believe it. I sign the agreement and send it off the same day, and am still resisting the temptation to e-mail my new agent every day to say “Hello! Just checking you haven’t changed your mind.”
I live in hope that when I am a published author I’ll be a bit more cool and breezy.