The Conspiracy Theory

Seriously interesting work chat today.

So I filled in Loraine on my Friday author visit, and she was fairly non-plussed about Conspiracy’s determination to not help himself. In fact, she was more than non-plussed, she was a bit exasperated. And it became quite obvious very quickly as to why the new girl got stuck dealing with this author.

She said that she regrets taking him on. He’s been nothing but problems. The publishers aren’t experienced enough to handle a quasi-recluse novice author, and she doesn’t have the energy to push his second book.

I asked him why she took him on in the first place, and after a half joking ‘god if I know’, she explained. Fife (as I’d said before) brought the manuscript to his agent, who passed it on to Loraine. Loraine really liked the book, and asked Conspiracy if he’d had anything else he’d written. Well, the man’s been writing all his life and had a trunk full of short stories and about two dozen completed novels, with the most recent the best one of the batch. Loraine thought she saw a bit of a Stephen King in Conspiracy: someone methodical and obsessive about writing, someone who’s constantly getting better at their work, and someone who’s likely to be prolific. (Little note here, Conspiracy isn’t a horror writer, she just meant his voice and focus for writing was like King.) Loraine said that not only did the manuscript passed to her from the other agent need little editing, but she was in talks with a new small publisher and they were looking for a project that seemed quite similar to Conspiracy’s style. Loraine thought it would be an easy sell.

Well, it was an easy sell to the publisher, but it pretty much stopped there. The publishers didn’t have the resources or the ability to push the book, and Conspiracy is incredibly unhelpful with publicity. He’s only published under his own name because his wife talked him into it.

So, the publishers don’t want the second novel, and Loraine said she really can’t be bothered trying to push it when the first hasn’t sold, and he’s being so stubborn. Cue me…

Loraine said I needed to ring him and tell him the cold hard truth. Unless we can sell his first book, there’s no way we’ll find a publisher for the second novel. He’s needs to buck it up, and start doing some publicity.

I asked if I could send an email. After all, I’m quite new and I’m not comfortable ringing people with harsh news like that. Loraine said ‘no’, because emails can be avoided. I was so nervous (and a little mad that Loraine made me do it), but I rang.

His wife answered, and she couldn’t have been lovelier. She wasn’t home when I was there on Friday, and so I introduced myself and we had a little chat. After a couple of minutes, she brought up the second book – what was happening with it? I told her the truth.

She took a deep breath and said, ‘He has no idea what’s good for him. He loves writing his stories, and I see no reason for him not to make a living at it. Let me sort it out.’

We hung up and about ten minutes later my phone rang. It was Conspiracy. All he said was, ‘I’ll do it. But I won’t go more than fifteen minutes from my [village name here], only in the evenings, and nothing listed on the internet.’

It was my time to haggle. ‘Thirty minutes from your house, evenings and weekends, and I’ll put out paper fliers, but the venues can put it on their websites.’

He responded with ‘It’s a deal as long as there’s no pictures of me on the publicity’.

‘Deal’

Right. Now I just have to find venues thirty minutes from a house that is in the middle of nowhere, will advertise, and host readings for free in the evenings and weekends. I’ve found all the libraries, book groups and little arts events in his areas. Tomorrow I start calling.

Wish me luck.

PS-Oh, I forgot to say. Pete was gone when I got home from work, and I have no idea where he’s wandered off to. I’m kind of getting worried, but then again he has been travelling around the world on his own for nearly a year. I think he’ll be fine.

PSS-I asked Loraine if I could help get some of the bigger selling authors into festivals. (As was very astutely suggested by one of my bloggy woggy followers.) Then once they knew my name, then I could push the smaller lesser-known authors. She said that was find, but the big names were easy. The festivals pretty much come to us (or to the publishers, or the author’s publicist [not the same as an agent, as it turns out]). She said, the better idea is to hit the new smaller festivals that don’t have a budget for the big guys, and ask them if they’ll put our small authors into the line-up. So that’s also my job for the week also. Busy, busy.

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