What is the collective noun for literary agents? Let me know.
Recently, I attended the Festival of Writing in York, UK. It was only the second writers conference I had ever been to.
I am far, far from antisocial but have found as I get older that I am not comfortable in large crowds of people. However, I found being in the midst of writers, agents and publishers, on the one hand, a little daunting (I don't meet any writers at all normally), but on the other hand stimulating. It reinforced to me just how many writers there are out there, especially since self-publishing and the ebook have liberated closet writers all over the globe. But, I suppose compared to how many engineers, nurses, car mechanics, retailers, lawyers and bankers there are, writers are probably down the league table in terms of sheer numbers.
But I learned one or two things. I learned, for instance, that some publishers will only look at a self-published title if it has sold a shed load of books. That makes perfect sense – except. Few self-published books sell shed loads irrespective of whether they are fantastic or the biggest load of drivel you can imagine. Publishers are short sighted if they think this is a market litmus test. To get discovered requires dollops of hard work and incessant marketing but, as importantly, a bucket load of good luck. I agree with successful self-publisher JA Konrath in this regard. A great book can sell few copies and might take off eventually (ebooks live forever). And a dross book, badly written, might strike a chord on the back of a fortuitous tweet or ad or by somehow getting noticed. And along comes a publisher.
And what about literary agents? There was a fair sprinkling of high profile agents at York which does demonstrate the reputation and status that organiser The Writers Workshop has worked hard to develop. I found trying to tie down or even have a chat with some of them could be tricky, not because they were unwilling to chat, just the opposite, but I ended up playing a kind of musical chairs as I stalked my prey like a literary mugger.
On one occasion I lurked behind after a workshop to have a word with an agent. She was standing with her back to me by the door talking to someone else. As I moved forward, pitch ready, her companion whisked her away along a corridor and she was never seen again. In the bar I hovered close to an agent who was chatting to a writer awaiting my moment. I turned to look at something, turned back and he was threading his way through the tables.
I did notice that literary agents do congregate together. In the bar, they quite often formed a tight circle around a table drinking and talking shop. And who can blame them? It's probably one of the few occasions they get to have a natter.
I stumbled by accident into a room where a bunch of agents had gathered. I didn't want to intrude or talk about a project to half-a-dozen rivals. And the thought struck me. What word would I coin as a collective noun for literary agents?
I've thought of one but if you do also why not let me know and we'll have a bit of fun with the idea.
My collective noun: A PITCHER of agents. I'm sure you'll think of far better nouns than this.