Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Getting the Call with Fiona McLaren


It’s so nice to be invited to the blog to do a guest post. I’ve long been an admirer, and love how this blog weaves the writing community together. Today, I’d love to talk you through my agent call (because as everyone knows it equals freaking out, excitement, and hope!).
Right, let’s get to it:

First up – this is actually my third (and final!) agent! I’d also received more than 1 offer, but when I got The Call from my new agent, the stars just clicked into the right alignment. Here’s how it happened…

I’ll be honest: The email letting me know I had the call coming scared the living bejessus out of me. Especially because the word “unfortunately” was in it. *cue heart attack* Look: “Unfortunately, the week got away from me….” At that point, I had to stop and breathe, because this was one of my top pick agents. I was really anxious it would be a no. In fact, I did that thing where you just kind of stare at the screen, heart making a hurty-kind of thump, thinking “oh no”.

Then I opened the email again and read on. She said she thought I was talented and she’d love to talk the next day. As any writer worth their salt does, I instantly jumped to “It’s going to be an R&R, it won’t be an offer, it’ll be an R&R”. Even though I had the original offer on the table already, I still did that. Because that’s just what we do. Doubt is a squirmy little thing.

We scheduled a time, and I decided I was going to prepare, relax, be collected. I sat on the sofa in my bedroom, my owl cushion and lucky dog cushion propped up behind me, feet up. Calm. I was home alone, and I promise I didn’t count the time down by the minute (who am I lying to? Lol). I’d been through this before. It would be fine…

The phone rang. *cue me instantly on my feet pacing up and down the entire house* Thank god my fiancé wasn’t home, as that drives him nuts. I don’t think I could have walked quicker if I tried! If I’d had a carpet, a path would be etched in it by the end of the call!

There were things about this agent (revealed at the end for those who don’t know who it is!) that struck me immediately: it wasn’t just flattery I was hearing. It was business and genuine enthusiasm for what I could achieve, and complete honesty. We discussed not only the book, potential edits, how rights work, etc. We talked about the market and how to pitch my book properly due to the nature of the particular genre (it wasn’t a case of we can sell this for millions, it was, “I really love this, and have a plan on how we can find the best way to sell it”). Sparkles, stars, and shiny things don’t impress me a whole deal (though they are wonderful things to hear). Maybe because this is my third agent (and definitely last!), I find it’s much more important to see through the “I love its”. This is exactly what I got (though I did get some great sparkles in there, too!).

We talked for a long time. I talk a lot. Annoyingly so at times. The agent managed to deal with this admirably (and if someone can put up with me waffling away, then this is always a great sign). The agent didn’t pressure me, answered everything honestly, gave me questions to answer, and we even had a bit of a laugh over some things. It was the perfect mix.
To be honest, I knew before I got off the call that I adored her as an agent. However, I also knew enough that keeping a cool head, examining all of your options, and taking the time to make a clear-headed decision is super important. So that’s what I did (with great difficulty), as this isn’t just a mutual fan club situation I wanted to get into. It’s a long-term business partnership. I spoke to clients, ex-clients, fellow writers, looked up industry sales, writer reviews, etc. I did my homework. A lot. Of course, I’d researched before I submitted, but now I went even deeper. Like tunneling for gold deeper.

The funny thing? The second I’d come off the phone with this agent, my fiancé turned around and said “that’s different from how you were on the last call”. Later, after I made my decision, he then expounded upon that to say, “yeah, she was always the one”.
He was right. My agent is the amazing Maura Kye-Casella of Don Congdon Associates. I have never been prouder. Oh, and as an aside, I think I burned my fiancé’s ear off telling him how excited I was (for hours. I told you I was a talker!). Wish me luck! And I wish you luck for when your agent call comes!!! Let me know how it goes!


Fiona McLaren is a displaced Scot living on the sunny island of Cyprus. She's an author, scriptwriter, and editor. She works alongside Cornerstones Literary Consultancy U.S., and also takes on freelance editorial work. The most important things in her life are her boys, her family, and her partner...and lots and lots of books! She's represented by the wonderful literary agent Maura Kye-Casella at Don Congdon Associates.


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