Monday, September 13, 2010

Nancy and I go agent shopping in the Big Apple!

Fortunately, Nancy and I were young enough that a night spent sleeping on her friend Bridget’s floor resulted in little more than a few stiff muscles the next morning. This was a good thing since we had appointments to see two of four literary agents that day. (We had picked up one more agent the day before we left California for New York. We would see the second two agents the following day).

Our first appointment was in lower Manhattan, which necessitated our taking two subway trains. 
Well, that was an adventure. Although I’d spent the first two years of my married life living in New York, I was every bit as lost as Nancy when it came to negotiating the mass of humanity swarming through that maze of underground tunnels. (My husband and I had lived in Queens, but we did our best to avoid the subway during the busier hours. That morning we had picked the height of the morning rush to try to make it to our appointment on time!)

Without naming names, the first agent we saw worked out of his apartment, which was spacious but very old. Coming from California, this struck us as slightly strange, although to give the man credit, he went on to become a big name in the business. We were offered coffee, which we gratefully accepted, and shown to a couch in his living room. So far so good, until he took out the book pages we’d sent him and started tearing them apart. When he’d finished his critique, he picked up a manuscript from a young man he was representing, and began reading from the guy's book. Obviously, he was convinced his prize client was going to become the next Herman Wouk. (For all the fan fare, we never did see that guy’s book in print!)

An hour later, Nanc and I left Mr. X’s apartment a bit bewildered as to why he’d asked to meet with us, since he obviously wasn’t that enamored with our work. He did agree to represent us if we made radical changes to our book, including the main character and the conclusion to the story. Despite this, we both felt a bit discouraged as we downed hamburgers at a nearby diner. Maybe our afternoon appointment would prove more encouraging.

She did. The young woman we saw next was just that, VERY young! Good heavens, could she even be out of high school? At least her office was in an established agency, although Nanc and I suspected she was the most junior member of the staff. Whatever her age, she treated us cordially and with respect – or was that because we were probably 15 years older than her?

All in all, the meeting went well. The young agent had obviously read the chapters of WE INTERRUPT THIS FUNERAL TO BRING YOU BACK, and thankfully didn’t suggest that we make major changes to the book. Instead, she requested to see the remaining book pages, which we happily left with her. She showed us out of the maze of offices herself, promising to get back to us as soon as she’d finished reading the book.

We left the agency walking on air. Surely she wouldn’t have asked to see the rest of the novel if she wasn’t already hooked, we reasoned. It was all but a done deal. We decided to celebrate by taking Bridget out to dinner and then to a movie. Sure, we’d still keep our two appointments for tomorrow, but what a great feeling to know that no matter what happened the next day, we wouldn’t be returning home without an agent!

Yikes! Were we ever that naive?

(Next: Our second day in New York.)


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