Talking about work at the pub

Earlier, just after I’d finished self-pitty-blogging,  I got a text from the Agency gang. They were at the pub and wanted to know why I left before the reception. (Is it called a reception at a funeral? I don’t know.) I didn’t reply straightaway, as I wasn’t sure what to say. Was I to text back, ‘I’m a selfish git who was more worried about my own grief than celebrating the life of a wonderful person?’

They texted me again. They were at the pub, and they said I should join them. I hemmed and hawed for a bit, then remembered the MNM news. I should be pretty psyched that I’ve (almost) sold my first book. So I decided to join them, and now I’m glad I did.

When I arrived, they were sitting in near silence. Two of the London agents and Paris came to the funeral (Paris even spent the day before on the phone working with me, and then got on the first flight in this morning), but only a London andParis were at the pub. The other London agent was driving back south. I ordered a pint from the bar then joined them. They seemed happy that I came, although I don’t know if they were happy for me to be there or if they just needed someone to distract them from the dreariness of the day. I mentioned that it was really nice of Paris and London to come all the way to Scotland for the funeral. They both swiped their hands that it was no big deal, and they both added that there’s flights from Paris and London to Dundee airport on Flybe and Air France. I didn’t even know Dundee had an airport. After a very short, ‘I didn’t know Dundee had an airport’ conversation, it all went quiet again.

So, I thought, what better time to tell them that MNM is interest in the Gordon Highlanders book.

Well, it did the trick. There were a few cheers, and then a new round was bought. I admitted to being dead scared of the negotiation process, and asked if any of them wanted to take over for me. Everyone shook their heads ‘no’ and said that with my contacts at MNM, I’m the best person for the job, and ‘We have faith in you’ a couple added. I wish people would stop saying that.

We talked about what to expect at a negotiation, and they said I was to stick with the basics. I was to approach it assuming that we’ll get a fairly standard deal, but if they try to stray away from that, then I’m to get tough. Otherwise, according to the team, this should be fairly straight forward. A good first negotiation.

I’m glad I talked to them about it; I feel loads better. Or I did, until someone said, ‘I’m really glad you’ve gotten that book sold. We need money coming in right now.’

They knew the Agency was in trouble. Well, of course they knew. Did they know that Loraine was using her own money to float their pay every month? I sat there wondering if I should say something? Or let the matter drop?

London started talking about how her sales had gone down in the last few years, and Paris again broached the subject of starting a publishing company. Then it started, the bitch session. We all do it. When you get together with work mates, no matter how much you try not too, the conversation always turns to ‘What I’d be doing if I ran the company.’ But here’s the thing, everyone should think that they are running the company. Yes, technically the Agency is Loraine’s but it’s supposed to be run like a co-op. It was time I asked them about the situation.

I blurted it out. ‘What is the situation with the company? One minute it’s supposed to be run by everyone with everyone sharing the profits, then the next minute I’m told that there’s no money and Loraine is floating everything?’

There was a bit of silence while I freaked out that I had let the cat out of the bag. Then London piped-up, ‘Yeah. About a year ago, she approached us about running the place as a co-op. We all agreed, but she never did anything about it legally.’

‘So, you know she’s putting her own money in the company?’ I asked.

‘Of course we know,’ said Paris. ‘For a while we nagged her about sorting out properly, but eventually we all gave up.’

‘Personally’, London said, ‘I think she had regrets about suggesting the co-op.’

I asked why she even suggested it.

London said that the Agency hasn’t been doing well for a couple of years, her mum was ill, and it seemed like a good way to share the liability. But the Agency was Loraine’s baby, and she just couldn’t do it.

This is really no different to what Loraine had told me, but I can’t believe these two were letting Loraine think that they think it’s a co-op, and they were letting her sink all her money into the company without saying anything. I was really disappointed. How could they just let lead Loraine on?

I asked what they would do if the Agency went under? They each had a plan. Paris has already expressed an interest in becoming a publisher, and London said she would take her clients and set up on her own. London then added that the other agent actually has a few clients with decent sales records, and it wouldn’t be difficult for her to snatched-up by another agency — if she brought her clients with her.

Well, this was fine for all of them, agents with proven track records, but what about me? I’m really new to the industry, and I’m also very aware of how lucky I am to have even gotten the position I’m in.

Plus, there aren’t that many jobs in the industry going at my level. No one hires junior editors, agents or assistants any longer. Those jobs are taken by a series of interns. In fact, I really don’t know how I’d go about getting a job. These days, everyone is arguing that an intern can do my job for free. Not really even sure how I got the job I have.

In fact, just before I sat down to write his blog, I had a look on an EU website that posts creative industry jobs, and there were NO editorial paid positions. However, there were loads of intern positions. Some of them were even posted as ‘editorial officer’ or ‘managing editor’, but when you clicked on the advert, the post always stated ‘this is a volunteer training position’.

WTF. I can’t go back to interning. And I simply don’t have enough experience to get a job at a more senior level. Simply, the Agency can’t go under. It just can’t.

Philip told London and Paris that he’s taking Loraine to a friend’s villa in Tuscany for a few weeks – to get a way. I’m going to use these weeks to really push myself, and do everything I can to keep this company going. For Loraine’s sake, and for my own.

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