Thursday, 19 April 2012
When outdoor swimming, there comes a point when you're treading water out in the briny or in the middle of lake, and you think, "Is it just me, or does everyone wonder if there's a great white swimming beneath them?" It might just be me, but It felt a little like that at the London Book Fair, swimming against the tide, alone in a sea of publishers, agents, authors and international conglomerates. It's a pretty fazing experience. Trying to negotiate the map, the app and the website was one thing, and getting there was no easy task either.
Enduring the tube, I made up back stories for my fellow passengers. I always like to play that game - "Who else is going to the same place?" Could it be the woman who changed her flats for pointy Jimmy Choos and changed her scarf twice? I was right about that one, but not about the perfectly groomed gentleman who stood ramrod straight, his briefcase by his feet and right in front of the doors at every station as if he were just about to meet the queen - ex-army I'm sure. I was wrong about the woman with the worn shoes and the M&S plastic bag stuffed with sheaves of paper,she got off at another stop.
I tried to look the part, and kept my cards and extracts concealed within my bag, moving my 'Author' badge at least 10 times over the day. I didn't realise you needed an appointment to see an agent, and hovered near the tables as if I were at an overcrowded parents evening. How you make this appointment is a bit of a Catch 22, direct, I've been told, but how do you find out who to email at your agency of choice? I did talk to a couple of independent publishers and left my cards with some agents, maybe next year I'll be better prepared. Celia Rees spoke sense about YA fiction, but made me think I should re-write the novel in first person, there's an awful lot of it about. Thank you to She Who Dares for bringing me back down to earth with a water polo match a few days later.