Of course this means I do need to squeeze into my rarely worn 'normal' clothes (read: not stretch fabric) and comb my hair, but I'm hoping it will be worth it in the end!
I'll unload any pearls of wisdom I can glean later tonight or tomorrow morning.
And... there's news in the air! I'll share all tomorrow!
UPDATE: Lucy's Pearls of Wisdom
After actually painting my toenails and shimmying into my now-too-tight jeans, I managed to do the near-impossible and leave the flat! The group was a good size -- about 30, maybe -- and over a few drinks we all settled in to hear Lucy talk about what she looks for and how she got to be an agent. She's a friendly and bubbly speaker and it was a pleasure to listen to her.
Some of her points (keep in mind this is from a UK perspective):
- The publishing industry has always been tough; it hasn't really got any tougher
- Writers generally sign with the agent, not the agency
- Translation rights, American rights and film rights are the most important things for writers to hang onto, to maximise later
- There is a real disparity between the 'branded' authors and new authors in terms of what publishers are prepared to take risks on
- What makes her commit to a book? If she reads the first bit, then puts it away and still remembers it after a few weeks and wants to read more, then she'll take another look
- For her, it's all about cadence and voice
- She works closely with authors to edit their MS but will usually only do three rounds of MS edits with them
- DON'T begin your MS with a character waking up from a hang-over -- clichéd and she sees this loads of times
- First person and present tense are incredibly hard to pull off
- You have to practise writing. You wouldn't expect a concert pianist etc to be great right away.
- You must write because you enjoy it, not just to get published.
- Personalise your approach to agents. Do research on their websites.
- Online presence and promotional skills are good (like the icing on the cake), but what's really important is the writing!