The Agency’s Truth

Another draining morning. We had the conference call and there was so much information flying around I couldn’t keep up with it all. I gave my run down of the weekend festival, and everyone else had a catch up on their various interactions at the Book Fair.

AdminAssist then reminded everyone to submit their expense forms sooner than later. I’d scanned in the hotel receipt yesterday and sent that over, and she had a query for me about it. She wanted to know why the room was changed to a double occupancy and there was an extra breakfast added.

Crap, the double occupancy drama. I didn’t think it would be a big deal because the hotel was roughly the same price, so I didn’t make a note on the invoice. I couldn’t hide it, I needed to come clean, but maybe I could get away with being a bit vague.

‘I shared a room with someone at the festival,’ I said.

Loraine spoke up, ‘You weren’t on holiday. It was to be a business weekend. I wish you would have cleared this with me.’

I had to tell them the whole truth or I’d look even worse. I swallowed hard and stated, ‘It was [Fife]. He and I have been seeing each other for some time now, and as he was scheduled to be at the festival this weekend, so he came down early and stayed in the room on the Friday night. The room was actually cheaper as a double occupancy, and because I drove down with him, I didn’t need to expense travel, so I thought the extra breakfast would be okay. But please take the breakfast off my pay, I’m more than happy to reimburse the Agency for it.’

I took a deep breath and hoped for the best. 

‘I thought he was married’ Paris said.

‘No he’s divorced isn’t he. My husband knows his wife,’ another agent stated.

‘I heard a rumour he and his wife were back together,’ Paris replied.

Damn you, small world of publishing.

I had to explain, ‘He’s still living with his wife because of the kids, but they’re separated. In fact, they’re in the process of getting a divorce.’

There was silence before Loraine said, ‘Is he happy with his representation?’

‘I have no idea,’ was my response.

‘Find out,’ Loraine said. Then she added, ‘Next time clear it with me. If he was scheduled to be at the festival, they paid for his room. You should have cancelled your room, and stayed with him on the festival’s tab, not ours.’

I told her that I tried to cancel my room, but Fife and I didn’t make any plans until the last minute, and by then it was too late to cancel the hotel room.

Loraine made a bit of a grunt before saying, ‘On to other business.’

The meeting was fairly tense and there was even more talk of budgets than usual. Something is going on and I needed to know.

After the call, I calmly asked Loraine if I could talk to her about something. I wasn’t sure how to broach the subject, but if the Agency was having problems I should know. The best policy was to be upfront.

I said that I’d heard rumours about the agency, and I’d seen the remittance notice. Plus, with Manchester leaving and possibly Paris, I was wondering if there was something I should know.

Loraine had been half reading something while I was talking to her (this isn’t rude as she usually multitasks like this, and I’ve learned to not take offence when I don’t appear to have her full attention), but she stopped what she was doing and turned towards me.

‘I guess you have every right to know,’ she said. ‘The agency isn’t doing well.’

She paused for a moment and took a deep breath. She confessed that scattering the offices all over the place wasn’t necessarily a strategic business plan. She’d been travelling up and down the country to care for her mother, and she was tired of travelling. A few of the other agents weren’t able to maintain a lifestyle in London on their ever decreasing commissions, so they were happy to move away. And with the publishing industry changing so fast, everyone was happy to do something different — just to see if they could come up with a new model that worked better.

However, we still have that London office which is draining the company dry, plus we’re maintaining all the home offices. It’s costing the company a fortune.

Loraine then asked me to not repeat what she was about to say to the other agents. The money each agent makes is supposed to go into a kitty, and after everything has been paid, the profits are divided up amongst every one. However, she feels morally responsible for the agents because she pushed them to take up this new model. Loraine added that if the agents were only paid AFTER the debts and expenses, there would be nothing left. So she’s been covering the debts out of her own pocket in order for the agents to get paid their rightful commissions. They don’t know this.

I said, ‘Then it’s good Manchester left. You won’t have to pay him any longer.’

She said that it’s more complicated than that, and she didn’t want to get into that just now. She said the finances of the company are much more complicated then she has time to explain, but her assets are tied up in the Agency and we can’t continue on like we have been. We NEED some big sales soon.

Loraine asked me once again to not say anything to anyone.  

I’m not sure why she told me. Maybe she just needed to tell someone, and I happened to be here. Or, maybe Loraine thinks I can help get her out of this jam? I really don’t know.

And what about my job? How long do we have before we run out of money? Should I start looking for another job? But what about Loraine and the Agency, I can’t jump ship too. But I have to look out for my own interests…don’t I?

God, I have no idea what to do, if I can even do anything. I’m not even sure if I should be typing this. I may come back and delete this post. In fact, I probably will delete this.

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