Sometimes I feel really lucky to live in London. Like when I cross Waterloo Bridge, with the dome of St Paul's Cathedral and the Gherkin in one direction and the pods of the London Eye rising in the other. Or when I run in Kensington Gardens, passing by Kensington Palace on my daily route. And, of course, when I hear there's a seminar being run by an agent from the oldest agency in the world -- and it's being held in my local library, a mere five-minute walk down the road. Even better, when I get there, they're serving wine. For free!
Well. Could it really get any better? Only if Juliet Pickering, the A P Watt agent running the seminar, reached down, plucked me up, and offered me a multi-million pound publishing contract. With the chances of that unlikely, I'd settle for listening to her views on publishing (whilst gulping - ahem, sipping - the wine, of course).
Some interesting points:
* It's better to approach in hard copy than email (for her, anyway), as email is easily dismissed.
* As more editors are taking on more and more work (due to cuts etc), agents are increasingly acting as editors
* Agents in the UK typically take 15% commission
* Advances are usually split in three instalments: first instalment after the contract signed; second instalment upon delivery of MS; third instalment upon publication
* Ultimately, promotion is the publisher's responsibility, not the agent's
* Book launches happening less frequently now due to economic conditions
* Royalties generally paid twice a year
* If your book sold averagely, you can expect to see a return on sales within 12 to 18 months (must earn out your advance first)
* Most books are not published in hardback anymore: published first in trade paperback then paperback
* Publishing is changing rapidly due to eBooks - uncertainty as to how publishers are dealing with electronic rights
Apart from a man claiming Isaac Newton decoded the Bible (or something along those lines), the session was informative and interesting. While most of the material wasn't news to me, it was good to get it straight from the source.
And did I mention there was free wine?