Well that was interesting.
I can’t think of another word for it really, I want to say useful, but it was only to a small degree.
I went to LWC today; its Thursday, that’s what I do. And forgetting that this meet had a theme I spent half an hour, before setting off, trying to find an excerpt of SORB that I liked. Then I decided just to do a bit more of what they had last time and tried to print it. Of course, my printer then had a hissy fit and I didn’t manage to get anything printed off.
So I rode into town utterly defeated, mooching into the Adult Learning Centre with my head hung low, disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to read anything.
Getting in there, the room is packed solid, mostly with faces I don’t know and Celine is already there explaining that today is not a reading day as normal, but a talk. A talk from a literary agent.
I was a bit shocked at first, surprised by the idea that I might be able to have another chat with somebody in the business. Remember Graham Joyce? Useful. This guy, Ed Wilson of Johnson And Alcock; interesting. I enjoyed his talk a great deal; it was good listening to him tell us about the business from his side. Explaining what it is an agent actually does and tell us why they are useful, all the while smiling his slightly Jack Nicholson smile (yes, chick, I did notice). Its a shame though, as he didn’t give any advice that I hadn’t already picked up either from experience or from the Writer’s and Artists Yearbook. He was very honest about it all however, and talked about the industry in a way that helped remind me that, yes, its not just about how well something is written any more. Its about if it will sell. I knew that; but to be constantly reminded I think is helpful to me.
Especially since at the beginning, when I began doing this, I was only writing for me. This led to my stories getting a bit samey and, though the setting of the novels changed, characters were rather similar, as were motivations and the b-plots. That’s something I’ve already dealt with now and nipped in the bud, I’m pleased to say.
Anyway, all the way through it, Celine is practically humming and jabbing at me, making it plain that, whether I like it or not, I’m going up in the break to talk to this guy.
It was at some point after that, mooching along in the ever growing queue, that I realise something. A similar sort of understanding as when Graham came to talk to us. I have nothing to show this guy; none of my words, no business card, no samples. I don’t even have a sales pitch. Ahead of me I see one woman drop a sealed, brown envelope on the table, containing a cover letter and a sample of her work. After that, another young fellow comes by, handing Ed one of his own books and then opening up a display booklet rammed full of the most incredible drawings I’ve seen for some time!!!
Suddenly I’m nervous, my heart is thudding, my mouth is dry and all I can think is that I’m standing before this professional agent, young enough to be filling his portfolio with names and I have nothing but my face and my words. Then its my turn and my throat gets stuck. Pathetic really. By the time I manage to get some words out I can already tell he’s a bit bored. He’s barely looking at me, glancing up the queue, then the clock, then back up the queue. I’m starting to feel annoyed, understanding that its far from his fault that I have nothing to say, but irritated at that fact at the same time.
I just manage to get out of him what sort of books he follows (and, disappointingly enough, none of his interests even remotely match what I write; that being vamp-fiction, high fantasy, contemporary fantasy and the occasional smut piece). I also just manage to get business card, and then I’m being ushered along.
Sad really, though its taught me something. I need to be prepared. I mean, its a writer’s club, for sod’s sake! If anything, I should always have something of mine to show people, to promote myself, to get my name known. And there should always be a way for people to contact me. Why the hell don’t I have a business card?! I used to, back at the old place, but its out of date now and doesn’t cover enough of what I do. It also doesn’t have all my websites on it; it certainly won’t include this blog. I could have handed him a business card, told him to look up what I do, or at least directed him to some of the pages here with samples. Most of all however, I’m disappointed that I didn’t have a pitch, or at least some sort of blurb about what I do.
That’s got to be my big task going forward; defining who I am as a writer. I already know I’m a writer, but for those who don’t, its important that I make it clear from the start. I need people to know that I’m as serious about this as a career as they are. Ed talked about developing authors as brands, and that’s really the case now, isn’t it? As if Twilight isn’t bloody truth enough, there are authors who’s names you just know. They have been carefully built up and marketed and grown to become brands, like McDonalds or Nike.
Sad, but true and I should be taking the first baby steps here to do the same for myself.
Agents make their living out of books and the brands they sell; I intend to do the same. I want to put together just something short about what it is I actually do and how. I dunno… something like;
My name is **edited** but I write under Ileandra Young. I started when I was thirteen and since then have completed several novels falling under the genres of vamp-fiction and fantasy. Fantasy breaks down into high fantasty in the style of Katherine Kerr, Robert Jordan and Tolkien, while the contemporary fantasy covers bases like Kelley Armstrong and Kirstine Cashoore. My vampire fiction is certainly nothing like freakin Stephanie Meyer, its actually good! Like Kelly Armstrong again, Anne Rice, or Laurell K Hamilton. I’m currently unpublished but there are samples of my work here, here and here and, for your reference, this is my business card.
Y’know… like that.
I doesn’t have to be exactly like that, but something along those lines will help me out no end.
Mission accepted baby!