You know what it’s like at the Hof.
You haven’t a minute to spend in your luxury rooms because you’re too busy guzzling champagne at the bar and WORKING. “I mean, I might not even have a bed up there,” I said gravely to Milly, my new pet junior agent. “There’s no time for anything as decadent as sleep here. You’ll learn.”
Milly looked a bit tired; she said the rats in the hotel I’d kindly swapped her into had kept her awake, so I tossed her a reviving complimentary mint from reception. “No time for
breakfast, mein liebling. This isn’t a holiday,” I said. “To the fair!”
We took the shuttle with all the usual suspects: bad hair and wacky tights (rights people), dirty macs and wandering eyes (male editors). I instructed Milly to keep a mobile
phone stuck to her ear at all times while avoiding eye contact with everyone. Getting from gate to hall was all about creating a personal exclusion zone and never breaching it, unless one came across David Shelley, Alan Samson or Daniel Mallory when it became acceptable to dissolve into girlish giggles.
We surveyed the terrain from the top of Hall 8. “Oh Milly,” I sighed tearfully. “One day, all this will be yours.” She looked exhilarated: “Do you think someone down there will
buy my philosophical Haiku anthology?”
“Aren’t you an eager beaver,” I chuckled, pinching her cheek. “Let’s both email a bunch of editors with a project and see what happens.” I selected a Gladwellesque think piece
called Looking Up Your Own Fundament (“borrowed” from Milly’s rights list; I had emailed the author last night to explain I was taking over) and Milly went with her Haiku.
On the count of three, we each emailed 10 different editors then waited. From our viewpoint, we suddenly saw my editors leap up and down, running towards colleagues.
Within 30 minutes I had three pre-empts and had closed a deal with Random House for a huge sum equivalent to one minute’s sales of Fifty Shades. We then turned our
attention to the editors Milly had emailed. Nothing happened.
“It’s OK, Schülerin,” I said, wiping a tear from her face, “let’s go play at meetings.” I thought it would be more educational to let her take notes rather than introduce her to anyone, as I pitched every book as “Fifty Shades meets . . .” or “The REAL book
of the fair”. In fact next year I am going to get an author to write a book actually called The Book of the Fair: Pre-Empted by Sonny Mehta for $2m.
I only realised when she’d gone to get my lunch that Milly had left her phone behind because it starting ringing. “It might be . . . an emergency?” I said to myself, so I
answered it. It was Lord Byng of Hype: “I’m massively excited about the Haiku! I’ve just pre-sold it in 39 languages and want to pre-empt for £750k!” Crossing my fingers behind
my back, I told him Milly had . . . erm . . . fired the author and I was now in charge. I closed the deal at £850K just as Milly returned with my weiner schnitzel. My methods may be unorthodox, but I’m quite enjoying this teacher lark.