Tag Archives: Vancouver

Visiting Toronto

Just got back from a quick trip to Toronto. It is not easy to see everyone in 3 days, but I did ok:
Wed–spent the whole day at TSN, meeting clients and potential clients
Thurs–Penguin, Mclelland and Stewart, Knopf, Doubleday, then two clients of mine at Sportsnet, then a Leafs game
Fri–HarperCollins, Anansi, Wiley, then a potential client at CBC, then a fellow agent (Rick Broadhead).
Sat–potential client, meeting at the Ritz Carleton.
Then I flew to Ottawa to meet some clients of mine, then flew back to Vancouver.
I sometimes wonder whether these trips are worthwhile, because they seldom result in a sale. Generally I pitch stuff and publishers tell me if they want a look or not. And I do personal follow-ups on pitches in progress (offer, counter-offer, signing, etc).
But most of my sales are an indirect result of these trips. In fact, since 2009, all of my sales have been to Toronto-based publishers. So I think they do pay off….eventually.

I’d like to close with some advice for people who are considering me as their agent.

Please follow the submission guidelines TO THE LETTER, and please double-check your work. You would be astonished by the mistakes I see, even people misspelling my name, which isn’t easy.

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We’d publish you…if you were someone

Just got back from Edmonton, from the Get Publishing conference held every two years. Met a lot of great new people.

The conference¬† organizers asked me to be part of “Pitch Camp,” where authors can come to see editors, agents, publicists, publishers, etc, etc, for some one-on-one contact.

Six people came to see me over the course of two hours. All of them had some great ideas–& I wish them well.

But my associate, Rachel Sentes, had a story to tell me afterwards that was kind of, well, sobering. One of the six people who came to see her described her adventures trying to get published. She had managed, without an agent, to get her stuff reviewed by some editors at Doubleday. (I can tell you that that is no day at the beach.) Anyway, they were quite close to making an offer…..but never did. The finally told her:

“If you were someone, we would have published this last week.”

Translation: “if you were someone famous, we would have made an offer. ”

In many respects, this is what book publishing has been reduced to: publishers are making less & less, so they are taking fewer & fewer chances. In April I had a publisher in Toronto, a good one, tell me he was uninterested in any book that would not sell at least 10k copies.

So where does this leave the first time author?

Good question. It’s one thing for a¬† new author with a national tv, print or radio forum. They can always find a publisher willing to take a chance with their stuff, esp. for non-fiction.

I tell new authors they should think about hiring a publicist. (Two great ones in western Canada are gal friday in Vancouver & the publicity mavens in Nanaimo.) There are no guarantees; but publicists can get you the media’s ear in ways no one else can; & this could lead to the kind of regular exposure that publishers are interested in.

The other thing to do is attend events like Get Publishing. I learned more talking to the G.M. of NeWest Publishing than I would have in months & months of reading the website. We can have all the fancy e-availability we want; but nothing will ever replace the face-to-face meeting; not texting; not teleconferencing; not skype.

To all the people who came to see me at Pitch Camp–thanks, & best of luck!

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