Tag Archives: how to get a literary agent

Diary of a hopeful author: Why we should ALWAYS laugh at ourselves

It’s “Wednesday Wafflings” when I post the latest entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author…Photo of a Diary

Things are going great. My book is with my agent. I’ve got to a stage where I think, heck, maybe I’m not so bad at this writing lark after all. Blimey, even my hair’s looking pretty okay these days, despite the extensive chlorine damage inflicted from a 4-day-a-week swim training commitment. (I’ve signed up for a triathlon – that’s what happens when you drink too much Cointreau on a Saturday night. Be warned…)

But, thing is, while it’s all very exciting, while my fingers are crossed solid for a very successful 2014 writing wise, here’s the thing: some things never change. I am still me. I still mess up royally. I still fall on my backside after tripping over on NOTHING. I fall off ski lifts BEFORE I get on them. I have kids who puke on me. I have knees that (literally) creak when I go up stairs. And that – those things – they are the funnies that keep everything real. Because life is bloody funny. And messy. And wholly nuts. And we should ALWAYS laugh at ourselves, because, otherwise, we end up taking ourselves far too seriously.

So, to that end, here’s something I wrote a couple of years ago about something hilarious I did. By mistake. Something nuts and daft and very, very funny. Like I said, we should always laugh at ourselves. Though, it seems I make this task easier than most…

So, to the story. One day, let us say three years ago, we were returning from a brief family trip away. At the time our girls were aged 7 and 5 and at an age when we needed to stop at the delightful motorway services for a nature break or three. My bladder never quite being the same after two babies (sorry, men folk), I also needed to stop. The girls having now falling asleep, we agreed that I would nip out to use the facilities and run back.

Now, it is important to point out here that I was , even then, in the iron-grip of writing and had a deadline to meet for a Guardian travel writing competition. Needless to say, I was keen to get out and get in with maximum speed and with my skirt not in my knickers.

All goes well. I run in, do what I need to do, and then, my mind on the Guardian job, I sprint out of the automatic doors and into the car park. Scanning the cars, my impatient autopilot kicks in, and, spotting our red Freelander, I peg it over and, hauling the door open, throw my self on to the passenger seat panting, ‘Come on! Let’s get a move on!’  Now, I don’t know about you, but do you know that dream when you are walking somewhere and then you look down and you are completely naked, in the nuddy, and you feel a wave of mortification wash over you? Can you recall that feeling? Well, this feeling is what came over me when, glancing from the corner of my eye I notice that the car seats in the back are different to my girls’ seats. Strange. And then my eyes fall to the seat covers – leather. What the? Ours are fabric. And then it hits me. I am in the wrong car. The wrong car.

I look up to see a man, mid-forties, balding, frowning, staring at me, mouth agape, finger, probably, hovering over 999. ‘OhmigodI’msorry!’ I blurt, and, faster than you can say, ‘naked dream’, I am out of that car and breathing like a phantom caller in a film sketch scanning the parking lot like a crazy woman.

When I eventually locate our family car, my husband and girls are in fits of laughter, the whole sorry episode not having missed their unforgiving eyes, and it has made their day. ‘Mum got into a strange man’s car!’ they yelp. ‘Just drive,’ I mutter. But it is a good five minutes before we can leave because my husband is laughing too much for his eyes to focus.

Any “funnies” of your own that keep things real for you? Do anything daft on a regular basis? Come on, fess up

**Out tomorrow “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest Gazette newspaper column to my blog…**

Diary of a hopeful author: The interview: meet my agent, Adam Gauntlett of PFD

It’s “Wednesday Wafflings” when I post the latest entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author…Photo of a Diary

As promised, I am mighty pleased to introduce you to Adam Gauntlet, my agent at Peters Fraser & Dunlop (PFD). I have quizzed him about what it is to be a literary agent, and, crucially, what he is looking for from prospective author, and he has kindly answered below. A true gent. He is a cracking agent – and he won’t mind me saying this – rocks a great hair cut. Let the Q & A begin. Hope it helps…

What qualities do you need to be a literary agent?

A keen eye, strong editorial instincts and persistence.

Adam Gauntlett, literary agent with a good haircut
Adam Gauntlett, literary agent with a good haircut

How did you get started?

I started off working over PFD’s backlist titles, before moving over to work in our Dramatic Rights Department, selling book-to-film/TV rights and book-to-stage rights. Aside from book agenting, I now handle all dramatic stage rights at the agency.

What’s the best part about being a literary agent?

The thrill of closing a deal for a client you love and seeing their work reach a wider audience.

What mistakes do prospective clients make?

Uninspiring pitches fed by half-baked submission letters.

Describe the perfect approach from a prospective client.

I don’t think there should be a prescriptive answer to this. What I will say, as a continuation of the above, is that a well-wrought and thought-out submission letter can really make all the difference.

How would you summarize your personal agenting philosophy?

Beautiful and erudite writing will always transcend the whims of the market and ultimately find its natural home.

 What do you expect from an agent-author relationship?

I expect an author to be dedicated to the refinement of their craft and be willing to take onboard constructive criticism.

What’s something coming out now/soon that you’ve represented and are excited about?

 A memoir by Bob Dylan’s tour manager, Victor Maymudes, titled Another Side of Bob Dylan. It will be published by St. Martin’s Press in autumn 2014.

What sort of genres are you on the lookout for in submissions?

On the whole I’m more drawn towards commercial literary fiction and narrative non-fiction, though am perennially interested in crime and thrillers. That said, good writing can often be difficult to categorize; I’m happy to consider most things.

How can aspiring authors contact you/send in a submission?

Email (preferred) or postal submission. My email is: agauntlett@pfd.co.uk

 What’s your advice to an aspiring author?

Believe in what you’re writing and always be aware of the market.

 

So if you needed to discover what agents are looking for, now you know! Adam is open to queries. To read more about what Adam & PFD represent, plus see their submissions guidelines, please go here. A huge thank you to Adam for taking the time for this post.

 

**Out tomorrow “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest Gazette newspaper column to my blog…**