Visit date: April 18
Starting to settle into Toronto, I’ve become better at navigating the roads and of knowing where I should and shouldn’t drive. But then, in a residential area, I stop to let a pedestrian cross the road… and he scoffs at me, shaking his head as he walks past my car. I don’t get it. But, no time to waste. I’ve got a brunch date with Transatlantic agent Meghan Macdonald.
I’m excited to meet with Meghan because I’ve been flirting with the idea of becoming an agent—a rarity in the prairies, maybe a niche I could fill? But I know little about what being an agent really means just yet.
Meghan Macdonald got her start when she was working as a personal assistant for an agent in the UK. After blasting her resume off when moving to Toronto, she then started working with Transatlantic part-time, eventually taking on her own clients.
Of her clients, one is well known to my home-province of Alberta. Michael Hingston, books editor for the Edmonton Journal, had submitted his manuscript to houses open to unsolicited material and to literary agents. Meghan read his manuscript and loved it, but the timing just wasn’t right. Months and months later (as in 8 months to a year, depending on who you ask) the manuscript was still in her head so she called him up again to see if they could work something out. Eventually that manuscript landed in the hands of the editorial board at Freehand Press. You can expect to see Michael Hingston’s book The Dilettantes in stores in September of this year.
So even just part time, how busy does agenting for Transatlantic keep her? Over a single week Meghan can receive up to 100 queries from hopeful authors. ONE HUNDRED A WEEK. How does she manage to get through them all?
Meghan tells me about a filtration system that she learned while working in the UK. This helps her to determine whether she will give the first 10 pages of a manuscript a shot.
What are those filters?
I’M NOT TELLING.
But why, you ask?
Because those filters are there for a reason. Those filters help to determine a writer’s maturity and readiness for entering into the publishing world, and I wouldn’t dare reveal those secrets, thereby muddying the pond she’s already fishing in.
Meeting with Meghan is refreshing and while I’ll need to learn the tools of the trade before deciding if agenting is a path I want to follow, I’m happy to have had a sampling.
“Publishing is an industry full of artists. Some of those artists are writers; some of those artists are publishers.” – Meghan Macdonald.