19 October 2015

Literary Agent

Who needs a literary agent in the modern era of book publishing?

Well, I do for a start and I'll tell you my reasons.

I have a limited amount of energy. You might also describe it as time but I prefer the use of the word energy because energy determines what I can do with my time. As you may be aware, I'm a partner in a publishing business as well as being an author. My crime thrillers have sold well, particularly as ebooks, and I've picked up the skills and experience that a publisher needs. So I know how to get cover designs, format manuscripts, employ editors and produce good quality books that people are happy with. I also know the best ways to get our books noticed, including Facebook and Twitter, and who can help me grow our market.

I would, however, rather be writing. That's what makes me happy. I do get some fun and satisfaction from all the peripheral tasks involved in producing a book but once the novelty wears off it does seem a bit too much like work.

My ambition was always to write a full length novel. I've now finished nine of them since 2007 and three have been published. That was my second ambition, to be published. Then I wished that people would buy my books and they did. I really wanted some indication that they had read and enjoyed them and lo and behold they wrote very positive reviews. Whew! My wish list appears to have been fulfilled.

But not quite, we humans are beggars when it comes to wanting even more. Now I feel that I want to expand my readership, especially now that I'm writing fantasy as well as crime thrillers. In order to do that I need an agent. Someone who will champion my work. Someone who has the boundless energy and know-how required to deal with mainstream publishers. Someone who has a vested interested in my success because they are investing their time in the project. Agents are purely commission based, they have to back the right horses and then ride them to the finishing line before they get paid. That's the energy I need. Yes they take a proportion of my earnings but they're welcome to it, they'll have earned it.

I'm convinced I've found the right one but there's every chance that she won't have me. All I can do is ask her nicely, which I've done.

Wish me luck.

photo credit: Ann Arbor Cook Book, 1899 -- frontispiece advertisements. via photopin (license)

5 October 2015

Jeremy Corbyn

The election of Jeremy Corbyn as the Labour leader has been a disaster for me. Where do I start in order to explain?

Ah, yes. Movember 2015. The month I decided to grow a moustache for charity, an act that proved strangely prophetic but more of that another time. Once Movember was past I decided to retain my facial hair on the grounds that my primary relationship had improved because my wife dissolved into laughter every time she looked at me.

Movember turned into Decembeard. I went the whole hog and stopped shaving altogether. My face became spiky and uncomfortable to the extent that my new grandson would squeal if I held him close. Still I persevered as it was for a cause that turned out not to be as good as I had imagined, but that will need a whole blog to explain so we'll not go there right now.

In January, I watched a film called Finding Forrester. I recommend this if you've not seen it. You can get it free if you've a Netflix subscription. Sean Connery played a distinguished writer in the film. Part of his being distinguished was the beard he wore. I modelled mine on his and every time I looked in the mirror I murmured James Bond quotes in a peculiar accent that I fondly imagined might belong to Connery. My wellbeing and self-esteem were greatly improved at a time when I needed a boost. Walking around looking like Sean Connery's portrayal of an author felt pretty good. It ticked plenty of the boxes that I might have been inclined to tick had I been in the habit of filling in surveys. I never do surveys, even the ones that offer fabulous prizes just for spending ten minutes of my time. The nearest thing I do to surveys is occasionally respond to consultations which are relevant to my work. These are Government exercises and don't even have the merit of offering a free iPad if you're drawn out of the hat. It's important to respond to these because it's good practice in being ignored. By the time a consultation has been sent out, someone has already decided what the change in legislation is going to be, regardless what response they get. I once asked a Treasury official why they decided to change when ninety percent of the consultation responses urged them to leave things as they were. 'We obviously consulted the wrong people,' was the reply.

Where was I? Oh yes, Jeremy Corbyn.

I'd never heard of Jeremy Corbyn before the Labour Party leadership election. More importantly, neither had I seen a picture of him. Now it's too late, he's been elected and disaster is staring at me from every mirror. He's got my beard. Or, worse, I seem to have a beard exactly like his. People at work have started to call it a 'Corbyn,' I know they never called my beard a 'Connery' but silence is indeed golden when it comes to facial hair.

Jeremy is here to stay. Even if he resigns on principle tomorrow, the damage has been done and can't be undone. None of us can unlook at something so that it's erased from our memory. Pity. If Men in Black hadn't got there first that might have been the basis for a good story.

photo credit: Jeremy Corbyn spoke out against TTIP via photopin (license)