OK I’ll tell you how stupid I really am. I don’t have an agent. No big deal, I have a publisher and maybe that’s more important. I’m desperate to get an agent to represent my Roman fiction books though (there are a lot of them!). There I am, at a friend’s 60th last week.
A friend drags me off and says, ‘Fred I want you meet XX, she’s a literary agent.’
After four glasses of champs and no food, I was , I admit it, a little over-refreshed. My friend had already given the poor agent a card of mine about The Cyclist and she looked up at me and said, ‘It’s self-published, is it?’
For some reason the comment rankled. I don’t know why, but I responded so stupidly.
‘Certainly not. It’s a bona fide publisher, new and start-up but it’s better to be part of a growing venture than part of an old jaded fosil publisher.’
‘Oh. I’m a Literary Agent.’
‘I’m So-and-so’s publisher actually.’ (A well-known writer of many Roman Historical Fiction books, published by very big publishers).
‘I always find her books never really get going. I like Cornwell when he’s writing well.’
‘I hate Cornwell.’
‘Not my thing at all.’
‘You wouldn’t like my Roman books then. They’re mainly pacy action without any purple prose.’
‘Suppose I wouldn’t. Is this a career of yours?’
‘No, I’m a full-time Neurosurgeon.’
Silence. Feeling like a flake. Looking around the party, people’s laughter reverberating in my ears. A slight flush to the cheeks and a wry smile.
‘Right, well, must go and rescue my better half.’
‘Yes. You better had.’
I thought nothing of it until next morning when, with greater clarity of thinking, I realised why I don’t have an agent.
Always engage brain before mouth.