Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The first meeting with a literary agent.

Now that I’ve calmed down a little, I thought that aspiring authors might appreciate a more detailed breakdown of what happened during my meeting with Luigi Bonomi at LBA. It’s extremely rare for unpublished authors to find themselves in the office of a well established agent, and there was little on the Internet describing such meetings before I had my own. So, here it is.

Luigi was interested initially on how long I had been writing, what about, and what my day job was ( I’d also been asked to send a brief C.V. in advance of the meeting ). The reasoning behind this was to give Luigi a feel for where I was in my life at the time, and also to see if there was anything about me that might help to sell my novels to potential publishers and the public. Many authors write about subjects similar to their occupations, and such expert knowledge helps to encourage readers that they are going to learn something from an authority figure as well as be entertained. ( I am not in that position, but it obviously doesn’t hinder an author if they’ve done what an agent considers to be a good job of their novel ).

Then we got down to business. Considering the sheer volume of material Luigi handles, he recalled a great deal of detail about ‘Genesis’, and was able to sketch out where he felt things were letting the story down. Chief among these was pace, along with his feeling that, having started with what he called “a terrific premise”, I had failed to capitalise upon it during the rest of the novel.

What followed was an hour talking over how to re-write about half of the novel in order to take full advantage of my premise, whilst trimming the novel down from its existing 150,000 words to around 110 – 120,000 words ( not a small task in itself ). This was to promote swifter pace within the story, and also no doubt to keep potential publisher’s costs down, making the title a more appealing accquisition.

Luigi made a point here of remarking that one of his reasons for being willing to work with me was my own willingness to make changes based on his experience and inside knowledge of the publishing industry. We had exchanged e-mails before the meeting, where he had highlighted the novel’s strengths and weaknesses, and my positive responses were what prompted his invite to the LBA offices in London. He then went on to detail how he felt that male thriller-fiction was beginning to move into new directions, and that I should consider following, something that I will definitely be bearing in mind as I get down to re-writing my novel to make it as commercial as possible. I should point out that at no time did Luigi dictate what he felt I should do with the novel – he made suggestions and then we talked them over, bouncing ideas off of each other until we found a compromise that really fitted the work. It was the first time that I’ve been able to do that alongside a publishing professional, and it left me bursting with new ideas.

After a hugely productive hour, Luigi told me that he would send me a standard agency agreement by e-mail that day. I was overjoyed, as you can imagine. He then cautioned me that getting publishers to buy novels, especially in these economic hard-times, was immensely difficult even for established agents, and that nothing might come of this. I accepted that, but between you and me, Luigi doesn’t sign an author unless he has high hopes for them, and he also said that if this novel doesn’t work we’ll have to find something else that does, suggesting to me that we’re in a business partnership that he hopes will last.

So do I!

Friday, June 18, 2010

I have an agent!

I'm absolutely overjoyed to be able to write here that as of Thursday 17th June 2010, I am officially signed as a client to Luigi Bonomi Associates. After an excellent meeting at their London offices on Thursday, during which Luigi ( Literary Agent of the Year 2010 ) made me feel very comfortable ( helpful for a first-novelist meeting a real-life agent for the first time after ten years of effort ) and detailed a number of changes required before the manuscript can be sent out to publishers, Luigi offered me representation.

I can't describe how important this moment was - LBA receives around 6000 submissions per annum, and Luigi will take on only two or three new authors each year. That's odds of 2000-1, and somehow I've passed through the eye of a needle and arrived.

Whilst a re-draft must come first, which we've decided should be completed by around September, I've every confidence in Luigi to give my work the best possible chance at publication. He's an agent with a fantastic track record, a really nice chap with a real passion for finding and nurturing new talent, and if anybody can do it, he can.

I don't believe I could have found myself in a better position. Time to get my head down and complete the re-draft!!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Finally, they're taking me seriously!

Well, after so many years it seems odd to be writing this now, but it would appear that I've encountered my shot at the BIG TIME.

I received a letter from Luigi Bonomi at LBA regarding the full manuscript of my novel Genesis, suggesting that it had promise but would require a radical re-write in order to bring it up to publishable standard. He asked for my thoughts on this, and in reply I said I'd be happy to do whatever was required in order to improve and polish the work, including some possible changes of my own.

To my surprise, this resulted in Mr Bonomi replying with a great deal of praise for my professionalism, and with a request that I should pop in to their offices in order to talk over the work some more. Since then, Luigi has really gone the distance for me, providing editorial suggestions and notes prior to our meeting next Thursday and generally telling me as much about what he does like about the novel as what he feels needs changing. I haven't been offered representation yet, and no doubt it will be a while before I am, but it's a hell of a good start!

For an agent as powerful as Luigi Bonomi ( Agent of the Year 2010 no less ) to spend this amount of time and energy on my not-yet-ready to publish book bodes extremely well for the future. For those aspiring writers who may come across these posts in the future, I'll keep recording events as an insight into what happens when an amateur writer finds him or herself crossing the magical boundary between lonely scribe and recognised talent!