Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Why Literary Agents Can Be Bad for your Health

When I first started in this novelist game, a literary agent was a necessity if you wanted to make the big time. Unfortunately, securing the services of one is easier said than done. Perhaps that why, when one took an interest in my work, I celebrated by hurling myself headfirst down the stairs, breaking my fall when my head hit the corner of the wall. All that blood! I still have a dent in the top of my skull where they stitched it up and a permanent scar on my shin where it bashed against the edge of each marble step as I made my inelegant descent.

Undaunted I happily accepted the agent’s invitation to join him for lunch in London and discuss the direction of my work. I was in Spain and it’s only a short flight. Still, best go the day before. If the flight was delayed and made me late for lunch, it would look unprofessional, right?

So, I was in London with a day to kill and all those lovely shops nearby. I’d only travelled with hand luggage, having carefully selected the outfit to wear to the ‘lunch of the century’. The moment I tried it on again I decided it was all wrong. Flash back to all those shops.

Suffice it to say that my hand luggage weight allowance was now a distant memory. I changed three times before setting out for the lunch. Someone as insecure as I am tends to use clothing as a confidence booster and I was convinced that if I didn’t get it right, the agent wouldn’t take me on.

As satisfied with the way I looked as I was ever going to be, I set off on the tube, well ahead of time. Wouldn’t do to be late! But as soon as I left the hotel, I was again full of doubt. Had I dressed too young? Did I look like mutton? As I left the tube a young guy came up to me and said he thought that for an older lady I looked real cool. Was I insulted by the older lady bit? Not on your life. He'd told me exactly what I needed to hear!

Lunch went really well after that. I phoned my better half as soon as it was over and told him about the incident on the tube. You need to understand that my significant other is very security conscious and suspicious by nature.

“I’m sure you looked lovely,” he said diplomatically.” But did you keep a close hold of your handbag while this guy was chatting you up?”

In case you’re wondering, the agent did take me on but it wasn’t a marriage made in heaven. We couldn’t agree on the best direction for my books to take and parted company shortly thereafter. I never did tell him about the fall and the clothes, so keep it to yourselves.

I embraced ebooks after that and have had all my tomes published. Carina Press and SirenBookStrand, my main two publishers, are fabulous to work with and have taught me a lot about the trade.
Do I have regrets? Well, of course I do. All my books are supposed to be best-sellers, aren’t they? Still, if we novelists didn’t dream, we wouldn’t be very good at what we do.



  1. You poor thing (i.e. falling down the stairs)! I've never been certain whether I needed or wanted an agent, but I imagine it would be pretty cool having lunch in London with one! Thanks for sharing your story.

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Angela. I can laugh about it now!

  3. Wow! Thank goodness he was a real agent! I read half the post afraid you were going to say he was scamming you. That would have been far too much sacrifice if that were the case! :) At least it had a happy ending, even if the relationship didn't work out the way you'd hoped.

  4. Oh no! That's it, proof enough for me that a fall before a meeting is a bad sign. On my way into an interview I fell in the parking lot and twisted my ankle. I made it through the interview and landed the job...with a woman who could best be described as Evil Incarnate.

    Thank goodness you recognized that he was a bad match early in the relationship!

  5. Thanks Natalie and Reese. Sorry about the job, Reese. Hope you found a better one. I'd already seen through one agent scam and knew this one was for real, Natalie, just not for me.