Tuesday, 6 March 2012


I'm nervous about the meeting tomorrow. I know why I'm nervous (don't know the person, don't know what to expect, major opportunity to be gained or lost) but I can't seem to get past it. This is going to sound very silly BUT I don't know what to wear.

Now, anyone who knows me knows that I don't care what I wear normally. I find something comfortable and buy half a dozen of them wear them all year. Sorted. Summer? Lose the vest and jumper. Winter? Extra vest and jumper. I only wear trainers because I have ridiculously wide feet ands I hate being uncomfortable. I went to the hairdresser - before we moved off the Island 5 years ago. I really don't care what I wear.

But now, I feel like I need to dress 'for work', since writing is my new job. My few remaining 'work clothes' are for a job either in lecturing or in psychology. Do I turn up looking like a therapist or a lecturer, or do I dress like I normally do? I have a feeling making an effort would be a good thing, because agents are the mediators between the creative process of writing a version of the book, and the end point of hopefully selling a book to a publisher. Publisher = business, ergo, maybe I should dress for business? But then, I would I be representing myself as a writer, because I hate all that suity/smart/ironed stuff.

So, will dressing up make me feel more like a potentially saleable author, or will I just be self-conscious? I know I'm rambling, but I'm really nervous, and I don't get like this very often. I know I'm just focusing on one aspect of the meeting to avoid the actual fear of rejection (I hate analysing myself) but there you go. I'm going to feel so stupid tomorrow, on the train home.

Instead, I'm going to focus on the books. I've got a synopsis of A Baby's Bones and Borrowed Time 2, as well as my willingness to be guided and shown how I can improve Borrowed Time. That's what matters, right?


  1. I wonder if your potential agent is reading this... I hasten to say I'm not your agent in disguise and I chanced on the above within a minute of you writing it. Be efficient as possible while still very definitely being yourself? Yes?

  2. OK. Place your right hand over your left wrist and say, 'Calm', very slowly.

    Now that you're breathing a little better, find a happy compromise. You have been judged on your writing already, and you have not been found wanting. This is not a beauty contest or a fashion parade. It is, in my experience, almost impossible to be inappropriately dressed in the creative arenas. I'd go back to basics and take my grandmother's advice, which I still tell my children, 'Remember who you are and act accordingly'.

    I suppose it's pointless telling you to enjoy yourself, but I'm guessing that five minutes into the meeting you'll be on a roll, and you'll wonder what all the fuss was about.

    I can't wait to be in your... trainers!



  3. Thank you, Tony, I'll try!

    And Nicola, thank you. I suspect you are much more familiar with this world than I am! I've just done some very grounding tidying up, and am going to chill out with some music in a minute. You're right, the book speaks for itself. I'm good with people once I get there, goes with my old job. (Calm. It works!) This isn't a job interview, this is a meeting with someone who already likes my book. Thank you.

  4. I'm sure your passion and commitment for your work will come across and that's what counts. This person has invited you to meet them and I bet they are looking forward to it.
    Good luck. Can't wait to hear how you get on.

    1. Thank you Catherine. I'm looking forward to it now. If nothing else, I hope to get some pointers on improving the book!

  5. Dear Reb,

    I wish you a wonderful meeting.

    Sometimes it's useful to ask a few questions. I would suggest...

    1. Asking which publishers they are thinking of going to. This will give you an idea of how they see you work. I would also ask with which established authors they see you sharing a readership.

    2. It's important to know that if - although I'm sure this won't happen - your novel doesn't sell, where you will stand. No agent ever says, 'I'll immediately stop taking your calls' but it's nice to hear them say that they are committed to your career and prepared to be supportive over the long term.

    I suppose above all it's important to find an agent that 'gets' your work and with whom you feel you could work together during the editing process.

    I'd ask them about their existing list. Some younger agents have only a few authors and a list they are committed to building and you're likely to get more time and commitment from them. More established agents may be working with as many as 30 or 40 authors and consequently they will have much less time for you, although more industry pull.

    I had a naughty friend who, having arranged a meeting with one agent, used this to get meetings with a further two. Then he could compare the vibes he got from each of them.

    Many agents have a real love of literature and are wonderfully supportive, but there is also a strong element of competition between them and the inevitable bottom line. It doesn't hurt to remember that they will be working for you and not the other way around.

    Let us know how you get on and all the very, very best,


    1. Hi Victoria, thank you for your suggestions, I'm going to print all the advice off and study it on the train. Clearly, you know more about this than I do! I'm relaxed now, and looking forward to it. I'm not normally prone to complete hysteria but I think I cope better with stress than excitement! Thanks again, and I will let you know how it goes. Reb

  6. Wear what you are comfortable in, and let your personality shine through.

    1. Thank you so much Glynis! I'll let you know how it goes!