On the Frustrations of Simply Not Knowing…

Murder cover artI know what you want to know, Beloved Reader, and you are not alone. I am quite sure you will be unsurprised to discover that. Your curiosity is shared by all our JFB authors and their agents, not to mention anyone else connected with JFB (or Quercus or Maclehose or Heron).

But here’s the thing: as much as I would love to do the big reveal, I can’t. In fact, I spent most of last week explaining personally to everyone that I could tell them nothing. And now I am explaining to you that I cannot tell you anything. And it’s as frustrating for all of us here at JFB as it is for you.

So I fear you too will have to gird your loins and wait in foot-tapping impatience for an announcement, just like the rest of us. And I promise as soon as I have something to tell you, I will.

But in the meantime, it’s business as usual – and some very exciting business at that. You will recall, a couple of weeks ago, I shared with you the fun of pulling together an offer for someone who’s written something completely different to previous books – brilliant, but different. I did think it might be a bit of a battle to get this through Thursday’s acquisitions meeting, but in fact my colleagues were positively helpful, even enthusiastic, dare I say, to the point that my suggested advance was approved, as was the publicity plan Andrew put together with Nicola and me. And no, this is not something we normally do, however much agents would like us to, because it’s a waste of valuable time if we don’t win the auction – but in this case we felt that the author and agent needed to see how we would deal with the particular circumstances surrounding this project.

So over a scrummy Pad See-ew (also spelled Si-ou, Sey-oo and ผัดซีอิ๊ว) I presented the pitch to the agent.

And as a result, I am once again back to not knowing … in this case, not knowing if my offer comes anywhere close to what author and agent are expecting. I had hoped @LitAgentDrury was mocking me when he said that ‘Inscrutable Offer Face’ is one of several they have to learn in Agent School, except that this particular agent – a friend of many years’ standing – also has it down pat.

So I have no idea at all how my offer – which I will freely admit was on the sensible side rather than the aspirational* – was actually received.

So watch this space, Beloved Reader, and all will be revealed over the next few weeks. I am depending on you to keep all digits crossed – and when you find out who the author is, I know you’ll understand why.

And now, I am returning to the murky streets of Victorian London, where a scientist who thought he knew better has finally had to accept that there are such things as monsters . . . and his own life is about to change beyond recognition as a result.


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*An aspirational advance is one that’s never going to be earned out, not in a million years, not unless the book catches the public attention and the next thing you know, every other person around the swimming pool is reading it, and people like Mariella Frostrup are talking volubly – sorry, I must have meant knowledgably – about how it cannot possibly be genre fiction because it’s a literary masterpiece…

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