If there's one thing I'll remember from the Undiscovered Voices launch party, it's the noise. The awesome hubbub caused by 70+ people all at schmooze factor 9. In many ways, it fitted my romantic image of a literary party - a room full of people sipping white wine and chatting animatedly about the state of the industry - except WE WERE ALL SHOUTING.
But this was absolutely a good thing, because - if I hadn't realised it already - Undiscovered Voices is kind of a big deal. The first anthology had no such expectations, indeed much of the action for the authors happened after the launch party. Last night, it was clear that many of the negotiations were well underway.
One thing I wasn't prepared for was the initial awkwardness between the writers. We've all been communicating on a semi-regular basis online, but suddenly being dumped together in a room was quite a different experience. It might not have been so bad if we'd had some time to bond, but suddenly the publishing industry came streaming in the door and we were forced to network as if our lives depended on it! I'm not joking about this actually, Working Partners deployed a team of their staff to make sure we weren't hiding in the corner mumbling to ourselves. Sometimes this worked, sometimes not - I had an excruciating few minutes where I was escorted to talk to a couple of agents, both of whom had previously rejected the book!
I discovered that I was still a little bit scared of agents and that some of them held an air of unapproachability. But maybe that was just me - I found it much easier to talk to editors. To be fair, they were mostly all editors who had expressed an interest in reading Back from the Dead so we had some initial connection there. Hopefully I talked lucidly enough - to be honest I can remember some individual conversations very well, but others seem to merge and tangle in my memory. It was all a lot to take in.
It also turned out to be a lot of work for my wife, who I hardly saw for two hours as I was being whisked around. The "plus ones" were quizzed by industry people almost as much as we were and found themselves doing quite a lot of pitching on our behalf. My wife, I'm proud to say, was brilliant - even grilling my prospective agent on why she still hadn't signed me up! (I heard a lot of conspiracy theories on this subject from various writers, but the simple answer seemed to be that my book just isn't ready yet)
I'm still getting used to people saying to me that they've read my extract in the anthology, but what really threw me (in a most pleasant way) was how many people said that they had read this blog. I've got to tell you, moving to a state of having readers - after so long writing for myself - is a big readjustment. But thanks!