Yesterday, I met with the lovely agent.
Naturally there were a lot of questions, which I hope I answered adequately. Why had I done this? What was my intention in doing that? Was there any possibility of the other?
The thing you need to remember about agents is that they make their livings from selling books. If the books they represent aren’t good enough, they’ll waste a lot of time and earn no money trying to sell them to publishers who don’t want them. If that happens, pretty soon publishers will stop taking an agent’s calls. A successful agent takes the best books and sells them to publishers. The first thing a successful agent must do is get the best book out of the writer.
That’s exactly what said agent wanted: my best book. I’d written the book I’d written for me. The agent wanted to know if I could now go away and turn that into a book that the audience would want to read.
We went back and forth. I had an idea or two. I made some notes. I hardly drank the coffee I was given. It was good, but I was busy.
Then, of course, one book isn’t much use to anyone. Getting a book off a writer’s desk and into a reader’s hands takes some time, and, if it’s any good, and it sells, the publisher is going to want a second book. A successful agent is almost certainly going to want to know what the second book is about before embarking on selling the first. This might be as straightforward as a sequel, but in the case of “Naming Names”, it’s very much a one-off, possibly making it even more important for the agent to have an idea of what might come next. So, in came some more questions: what else have I done? What would I like to write about next? How can we develop those ideas? What sort of timescale can said agent expect?
I had a splendid time. This was, if you can believe it, the first time I’d ever sat down with someone who had read the novel, who wanted to discuss it with me. After three years, the words “Naming Names” were suddenly coming out of someone else’s mouth.