2014: Big decisions, luck and gratitude

I’ve been trying to think of something interesting to write in my end-of-year review post, but I’m discovering that it’s actually quite hard to write a review of the year when your year has been dominated by one massive decision you made that changed your entire life. This time last year I was working in a bookshop, translating various things from Japanese to English, saving up money for Canada and dreaming of getting back into the publishing industry there. In April, my husband and I dropped everything we had in the UK, flew to Vancouver and travelled across Canada by train before settling in Toronto. A couple of weeks after we arrived, I met Sam Hiyate in a café on Dupont, and he invited me to join The Rights Factory as a rights associate and literary agent, which is pretty much my dream job – I was in foreign rights for five years in the UK and I loved it, and agenting is something I’ve been dreaming of ever since I first got into publishing.

When I look back on 2014, I find it quite hard to believe how incredibly well everything went. This time last year I was praying that we’d find a way – any way – of earning money and supporting ourselves in Canada so that we didn’t have to give up and come home. Now, we both have jobs in our fields of expertise, we’re secure here for now, we love our new city and we’re working on finding a way to stay here just a little bit longer. While I’d like to put it all down to my own brilliance, there was a lot of luck involved in how everything worked out, and I’m supremely grateful to a whole lot of people. Namely:

– My amazing boss Sam Hiyate, for taking me on, supporting my work and encouraging me to build my own list. I particularly appreciate the way that he never even tries to limit the kind of manuscript I can take on – from sky bandits to giant squid, from epic fantasy to webcomics, if I love it and think I can sell it, then so does he.

– My colleagues at The Rights Factory – particularly Ali, Olga, Devon and Cassie, for looking after me in Toronto and New York, putting up with my strange non-wine-drinking ways, entrusting me with their foreign rights, making me kosher caesars (that one’s just Devon – and no, it’s not the same as a Bloody Mary) and generally making me feel like one of the team. And Kelvin for all the foreign rights advice, and for inviting me to parties 🙂

– My eight fabulous clients, for taking a chance on a new agent and entrusting their amazing manuscripts to me. I’m keeping my list small and selective for now, because I really want to be able give all my clients as much of my time as they need – I figure that, while I don’t have much of a sales record yet, I can offer a lot more love and attention than the bigger agents are able to, and the sales record is only a matter of time! I feel very in tune with most of my clients in terms of editorial notes, vision for the book, sales strategy and the rest of it, and I feel really privileged to work with every one of them. I’m looking forward to an exciting and productive 2015 together.

– My husband, for supporting me through various different flavours of publishing angst, from ‘this manuscript is so amazing I need to be representing this person right now’, through the occasional ‘OH GOD I think they’re going to choose another agent my life is over’ (let the record show that in the particular instance I’m thinking of they chose me in the end, so all that angst was completely unnecessary) to ‘OH GOD will anybody ever love this book as much as I do?’ and ‘I’m negotiating a deal but the editor is going on holiday, what shall I do with my nervous energy for the rest of the week?’.

I expect 2015 will bring a whole lot more publishing angst, but also at least an equal amount of publishing joy. I have a stellar list, a couple of great manuscripts to edit, a new author to pine after, a submission plan for January…and it’s nearly time to start booking appointments for the Bologna Book Fair. Happy New Year, all – I hope 2015 brings us all wonderful things.

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One Response to 2014: Big decisions, luck and gratitude

  1. Paula Landry says:

    Thank you for this inspiring story about your personal journey!

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