|Carole Blake and Roger Sanderson|
As a yet to be published and un-agented writer you dream what it will be like when an agent says yes. Well agent supremo, Carole Blake, told all and her words were the stuff fantasies are spun from, but being Carole it was all very practical. One of course had to expect that from the woman who wrote the bible FROM PITCH TO PUBLICATION (which was a given to me as a birthday present by a dear friend after I had finished draft three of AUGUST ROCK. I duly read it and knew I was not yet ready....)
She’s been in the business a long time – about forty years, which means that she can pull on experience gained with many clients. She still gets a thrill from selling and selling over and over again. A manuscript normally goes out widely and swiftly to multiple locations. If possible she tries to split up the English speaking world to maximize royalties.
She said to remember that you are in a relationship and that revolves around communication. For her being an agent is about preparation, selling and career management. She spends a long time finding out what kind of career her authors want and what kind of editor they need. Time is spent on making sure it’s the best possible submission package. She edits but many agents don’t.
She doesn’t like to sell a manuscript cold so she lunches almost every day with publishers and editors to find out their taste. This is a hardship she endures for her authors...
Much of her work is invisible. She listens carefully and talks general ideas. This is not done in formal way. She sets situations up. You can plan but fate will play its own role.
Carole’s goals are to sell, for her authors to be happy and to have a long career. Agents should not make decisions for authors but with them. She speaks to her author at least every ten days. She wants her authors to cc or bcc her in on every email with editors – it is a ménage a trios.
She highlighted some key things agents should keep on top of:
The Google Settlement
What happens after the contract – ie. marketing
The development of the digital market
She cautioned that things have changed and writers now need to be public people and know their USP (unique selling point).
She doesn’t think about trends. She has to love it and luck is important and always has been.
She personally has twenty authors and has taken on only one new author in the last three years. The agency as a whole receives 12 to 30 submissions a day and takes on 6 to 8 new clients a year. It is normally an eight week wait for a reply to a submission.
(Now off to go say a novena to St Anthony to find me the right agent and to finish the polish of PENDEROWN - I can see Carole giving me 'the look' and her voice saying just get on and write a damn good book!)