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 It’s extremely rare for unpublished authors to find themselves in the office of a well established agent, and there was little on the Internet describing such meetings before I had my own.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!


Matt Hilton said...

Welcome to the stable, Dean.
Me and Sean Black jokingly refer to ourselves as the Bonomi Boys, welcome brother.

Dean Crawford said...

Thanks Matt, glad ( and relieved ) to be aboard!

Col Bury said...

Massive congrats for getting such a widely respected agent, Dean.
Envious, me? Nah... :)

Tameka said...

Hi Dean. I'm about to have my very first in-person meeting with a literary agent next week and I was Googling around for some info and came across your blog. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences! Reading what you went through is making me feel hopeful.

I've been going back and forth with whether or not I want to self-publish and recently some opportunities to be published traditionally have been presented so I will see where this goes.

I'm so glad I stumbled upon your blog as I love thrillers and would be interested in reading your work.

Thanks again!

Roisin Rennie said...

@Tameka buy the annual Writers&Artists handbook for more information on agents. Dean I would like to ask you a quick question.

How much did they charge you for obtaining their services?

I'm new to the agent side of things and, as an author am looking to know how much it all costs.
If you could forward any advice to me on

Thanks v much indeed

Good luck