You will have to allow me a little crow of happiness this morning, folks. I opened my post to discover a bound proof of Nick Setchfield's The War in the Dark. It wasn't just that the proof was lovely - it is. But it's also that now I have all four of the bound proofs for the first four clients I took on and placed with publishers. All of whom are lead debuts and all of whom are publishing this year.
It may not sound much, but for me it's a really pivotal moment. When I first set up on my own, it was something I had always wanted to do. But I'll be totally honest - it was terrifying! It wasn't easy leaving a job I adored, a publishing company with whom I'd spent over nine happy years with, let alone leaving behind authors and colleagues that I loved to bits. I suffered bouts of anxiety, questioned my abilities and whether I had the self-confidence to do it all. After all - I wouldn't have a team or support network to chat to about any problems that arose. Then I figured, if not now - then when? And agents I'd worked with through my job as Editorial Director, were wonderful, offering all kinds of advice and support.
Setting up wasn't too hard. Thankfully, having worked for so long in the industry meant I did have something of a reputation, especially in SFF, so despite my fears at getting no submissions - they soon came pouring in. Thank you authors!! :-) I soon found Sam Hawke, my first client.
City of Lies by Sam Hawke
I was hugely impressed at the strength of characters, the originality of plot and the diversity of voice that made City of Lies really stand out to me. Pitching was easy - submitting and waiting for the response, less so. You think authors can't wait to hear back about the script? Neither can agents! I felt a massive sense of responsibility to Sam, who'd chosen me over a couple of other agents she'd had offers from. And I REALLY wanted to place my first client for myself as well - to prove I could do this. Happily, Diana Gill over at Tor US loved it and picked it up in a two book deal. And a UK publisher picked it up just last week - watch this space to find out who!
It's already had great quotes from Robin Hobb, Terry Brooks, John Gwynne, Adrian Tchaikovsky and Kate Elliot. Tor US are publishing 03 July 2018.
Everything About You by Heather Child
One of the things I really love about being an agent is the freedom to take on the authors you want to. In publishing you're constrained by what other people think of the book, of market expectations, of set parameters and predicted margins that need to be met. While as an agent, you, of course, keep the commercial possibilities in your mind while considering a script - you do have a bit more leeway to take on books you genuinely love. Heather's book just blew me away with the writing and concept. Near future, a touch of SF, it's a psychological thriller with a difference, exploring the increasingly blurred boundaries of tech on our lifestyles. Jenni Hill over at Orbit UK saw the potential as much as I did. Everything About You is being published 26 April 2018.
Witchsign by Den Patrick
Den is an author I'd known and admired for quite a while. He's an original writer with a great prose style and lots of imaginative worldbuilding and diverse characters. So I was very happy to see him taken on by Natasha Bardon over at Harper Voyager. A coming-of-age YA/crossover fantasy set in a Norse/Russian fairy tale inspired world - with dragons? Seriously - what is there not to love?!! The proofs of this are gorgeous and the cover of the actual book, even more so. Witchsign is being published on 22 May 2018 and is the first in a series.
The War in the Dark by Nick Setchfield
Nick is a writer who I'd been encouraging, for what feels like a decade, to write a book. There was a lot of prevaricating. :-) But he finally admitted he'd finished one and I explained that if he didn't submit to me I may never speak to him again. As I'd expected, it was brilliant. A mix of cold-war espionage with a main character who could put James Bond AND Indiana Jones on their asses. How could I resist? Cat Camacho over at Titan adored it as well and snaffled the rights for it. They're publishing The War in the Dark on 17 July 2018.
Whatever job you're doing - I hope you love it as much as I do mine. I get to work with some fantastic authors on their brilliant books. There's a lot of hard work, obviously. For every author taken on there are about 500 who aren't. I get around 150 submissions a month and they all need to be read. As an agent, you don't get paid for that - or doing the rejection letters. When you're self-employed, that's a lot of hours spent working for no money. There are long hours. All my submission reading gets done in the evenings as I'm too buy editing or dealing with client queries to read during the day. I know most agents and editors do the same. But it's still a great job and I'm very happy, and honoured, to be doing it.
So part of this post is to say thanks to my authors who took a chance on me. They're huge fun to work with!
And partly an advance thanks to the readers and writers. Without you guys - we wouldn't be doing any of this. Keep reading. Keep writing. Keep buying. And most importantly, keep loving books! :-)