Dear Gerard: I have read and thoroughly enjoyed your book. It is well written, original and very entertaining, and I would be really keen to have a go at placing it with a publisher on your behalf. In the meantime, I'd love to learn a bit more about you! Who you are and where you live for a start. Do give me a ring or email me more details. I can also tell you a bit more about me and how I work so you can decide if you would like me to represent you. I look forward to hearing from you soon. All best Rosemary
...The other reservation I have is if you spend all kinds of money on copies and ancilliary services and don't sell the book, am I supposed to pay for all that? Which I'm telling you right now I can't because I don't have any money. Lastly, I didn't see a long list of successful placements of this kind of book below your name in the PFD website but I think this would be new enough to both of us that it might just work out astonishingly well. I hope these questions aren't too unreasonable. I would very much like to trust that I could just sign the thing and let you take care of everything to our eternal mutual satisfaction. Let me know what to do next. Thanks. G.
Dear Gerry Your comments and questions seem eminently reasonable. Yes, I am enthusiastic, and that is (I think) the single most important quality you need in an agent. And although as you rightly say I do not represent a long list of quirky American novelists, there is a lot to be said from your point of view for not being simply one of a big pack. As you can see, I am backed up by the expertise, experience and reputation of the biggest UK agency and we have extremely good relationships with all the UK publishers. I agree that the big question mark is how best to represent you in the States, and I don't think there is an easy answer. All I can really do from here is - either recommend you to one of the NY agents we work with from here - at which point their decision will still be a personal one based on how they feel about your work. Or submit direct from here to US publishers - a time-consuming business with no guarantee of success.
Alternatively, you could continue to work direct in the US - find yourself a New York agent who will champion you there. The final option - and possibly the best - is to sell World English language rights to the UK publisher who will then take a (small) percentage and sell the US rights themselves. Most UK publishers have energetic rights departments who would love to get their hands on a book like this for the American market. On to the commission question. As I said, the 10% UK and 20% US figures are for UK residents (usually). Perhaps you and I could agree a compromise - say 15% on both? As you probably know, most New York agents charge 15% for US rights and 20% for UK so on 15% for both you would be getting a bargain! Let me know what you think.
And finally - if I fail to sell the book you don't have to pay a penny - it is our job to take that risk! Give me a ring if you want to talk about any of this - I can always ring you back! I look forward to hearing from you soon. All best Rosemary
Quirky? Yeah, well, okay. I like the part about a thoroughly, uniquely and truly totally American book slipping into US markets through the UK while all the US houses are scouring the streets of Calcutta to find things to translate from Hindi. What's that quote about a prophet in his own country? Being despised? Ignored? I forget. But wouldn't that be slick? Okay, I say let's do it. Thanks. G.