Tuesday, January 8, 2013
My Agent Phone Chat
Well, this is something a lot of writers dream about as their penning their masterpieces, but I just had my first phone conversation with an agent last night. Very exciting.
Here's the backstory:
I met the amazing writer Les Edgerton at Bouchercon (The World Mystery Convention) last October. I'd gone to it because I wanted to meet John Connolly, Michael Connelly, Lee Child, Michael Koryta and some others. I ended up sitting at the bar a lot, as I'm quite fond of drinking at bars since that's why god made them, and this wizened old man who reminded me of a Texas Bounty Hunter sat down on the stool next to me. We got to talking about writing, of course. We drank more beer. It got fun. He's a wise guy, I'm thinking. Been around the block. Need to drink less and listen more. But we were having fun. I learned a lot from Les and he cracked me up quite a bit.
Time passes... I've decided to keep my Dark Fantasy novels and novellas with my publisher Dark Fuse under my real name, but have these fun ideas for some other books, all very different. So I write the first one (The Lesser People). It's a Coming-of-Age novel with a historical slant, thriller trappings, some very sad and very touching moments. I decide to write THE LESSER PEOPLE and other novels of its ilk under the name Thomas Morgan.
I begin querying agents. I don't expect to hear back from anybody soon because Sandy hit. When I touch base with Les Edgerton I find out he read my novella WHEN WE JOIN JESUS IN HELL, and he says, "Hey, I loved that book, let me give you a referal to my agent Chip MacGregor! He's awesome! Passionate, knowledgeable, professional." All things I like. So Les introduced us via email.
Next I sent a partial and synopsis to Chip MacGregor. I'm feeling confident but also slightly nervous. He reads my sample. He asks for the complete MS. I send it. I'm writing another novel while he's reading The Lesser People over Christmas break. When he finishes The Lesser People I get the "This is excellent, want to talk on the phone?" email on January 1st. What a way to start the new year! But do I want to talk on the phone?
Do I? Hell yes, I do. I can't stop smiling, but I'm also nervous. My family is excited for me. They have a million questions I don't know how to answer so I tell them, "Shut up."
Where I'm very comfortable selling my Dark Fantasy to Darkfuse, these pen-named novels are different (The Lesser People, The Wolverine, etc.) Since there is less fantasy in them I put even more of my real life experience, which I thought I'd done a lot of with the DF work. But anyway, we set up a time to talk on the phone, which was yesterday...
Here's about the conversation:
Chip calls. I'm a nervous wreck. I can't breathe well. I think I might faint. The novel he read that I want to sell as Thomas Morgan means a lot to me. Chip is very straightforward and very laid back at the same time which makes him a super easy person to talk to. He told me how his agency works, a lot of things I didn't know about publishing in general, how he interacts with clients, and I got to ask a bunch of questions.
A big one for me was, "How ready is this manuscript?" Because I pride myself on turning in the best MS I can. The MS is very ready. So I'm very happy.
I ask if upon finishing it he has publishing houses in mind, and like I figure, he does. That's neat. My heart flutters a little more. I'm liking him a lot, liking that he likes my work.
He fills me in on advances, asks about my platform, which is something I'm working on now (I hadn't been very much because I spent all my time reading, writing and editing.) But finding and connecting with my audience will be crucial in the success of each book, so I'm glad I'll have more time to devote to that this year!
We talked more. It was all so surreal that I probably don't remember half of it. After an hour he has another appointment but since he is a career agent, not a single book agent, he would like to see the other novel I want to sell (The Wolverine by James Logan). The Lesser People and The Wolverine are very, very different stories and the novels I write under each name will stay consistent with each persona, so I think that's a very smart move on his part.
So I have The Wolverine but I haven't worked the critiques in yet. And I'm working on a Dark Fantasy novel (Gossamer: A Story of Love and Tragedy) for Darkfuse. I think, okay, I like the crunch. Last night I work in the critiques on The Wolverine. They really weren't that bad. I read the whole novel. Damn, I like it, but I'm thinking... This is so damn different than The Lesser People. Will he like it as much? I don't know. But I just sent it to him this morning. :D
Here's what comes next:
Next Chip will read The Wolverine. I really like him and hope we can work together. While he's reading it I need to figure out any other questions I have for him. But I can tell you this: I look forward to seeing if we can work together. I'll finish this novel for Darkfuse and then I have a third pen-named novel (Earthly Things by Julian Vaughn) to write. Then another James Logan novel, then another Thomas Morgan novel, then another Lee Thompson novel. Busy, but I love it. Thanks so much for everybody's support! Thanks to Les for the faith and the referal and thanks to Chip for the reads, the phone talk, and taking it to the next step!
Lee Thompson/Thomas Morgan/James Logan/Julian Vaughn
Here's me squeeing: