The Frankfurt Book Fair starts October 5. It runs for five days. I don’t mind telling you that I’m nervous. If The Beggar’s Opera finds a home, it will likely be during the negotiations that take place during this massive event, the largest trade event for books internationally. 7,300 Exhibitors, roughly 300,000 visitors.
My agent was hoping that The Beggar’s Opera would be picked up in the UK before it starts, so that he could put it on a hot list, a personalized abstract of what his agency has on offer for translation. Too late for the main catalogue, he pointed out, and besides, it’s so stuffed with books that it would be hard to have anything stand out.
But so far, nothing. I’m managed not to email my agent every day asking for updates: I can reasonably assume if there are any, I’ll hear from him. And I imagine he’s swamped getting ready for the Fair: the lead up can apparently take months.
As one literary agent writes, “With five foreign publisher clients, each sending at least three specialist commissioning editors to Frankfurt, I find that I need to be at least three months ahead of the game to have any realistic hope of completing their diaries and be certain that everyone gets a 30-minute meeting with all the UK agents and editors that need to be seen.”
The week coming up for us is the big one, in terms of the plan my agent has in mind. If The Beggar’s Opera doesn’t get picked up this week or shortly thereafter, it doesn’t get on the hot list. But if it does, the chances are it will go international as editors talk it up. It’s out currently with editors at the top seven or eight publishing houses in the U.K.
The suspense, I can tell you, is killing me. This is one of those months that can change my life, either way. Either turn me into a published fiction writer, or see me running backwards, like one of those little sand pipers on the beach that run back from the waves, to my usual endeavours (real estate and Aboriginal law/negotiations).
To try to calm myself, I went out to the lake for a few days. Spoke at a gathering of 285 seniors about treaty rights in Southern Ontario for the Later Life Learning group. (If I get published, they will put on a mystery series and invite me back: they were dolls.) Had a documentary interview (four hours) with a film crew about the same topic.
I also finished polishing the sequel to The King’s Indian so it conforms to my agent’s feedback. Have I wasted all this time and energy writing a sequel to a book that may never sell? Has he?
Heading off to Harrogate for The Debut Dagger, I said I’d either come back an author or a realtor. I came back thinking, ‘realtor,’ and then found my agent.
Now I’m starting to understand that while having an agent is a giant leap towards publication, and a necessary one, he can’t guarantee publication. That’s up to these editors. And right now, they’re probably buried under paper.
It’s just like they say about hard work. If you don’t work hard, you can’t succeed. But hard work alone isn’t enough. You have to be lucky, too. Whatever happens in the next two weeks is out of my control, and I hate that. I hate relying on luck to carry the can. And I know I can only rely on my agent so far: he’s doing his best, but others have to make the decisions.
‘Hope for the best; prepare for the worst,’ isn’t that the saying? Tomorrow, I get back to the world of real estate. I’ve been approached to maybe facilitate some Aboriginal negotiations in the next two week period. That’s good; that will be a distraction. Life goes on as before. All of that could change in a heartbeat: one email, one call. One ‘yes.’
It’s been a long and winding road. It all ends in the next week or two, one way or another. Wish me luck.