Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Westwood Creative Artists

Thomas King. Rohinton Mistry. Mordecai Richler. Timothy Findley. Michael Turner. Julian Barnes. Bret "The Hitman" Hart... and Sean McCallum? What the ?!?!


In one of the most inexplicable developments in recent memory, the good people at Westwood Creative Artists have decided that I am somehow worthy of their representation in all matters literary and pertaining to the world of publishing... To say that I am shocked and overjoyed would be an understatement of epic proportions.


As some of my loyal readers will know, I have been working on the manuscript for a novel for the better part of the past five years. Despite what some people say, trying to write a novel; particularly a first novel; is a ridiculous amount of work, and it wasn't until about six months ago that I decided that the manuscript was of the quality where I might actually let someone else read it. I kept my audience as limited as possible. My mom. My girlfriend. My sister... You know, the people who will tell you they like it even if it reads like a highschool writer's craft portfolio. Despite the fact that this particular work is about the most masculine story imaginable, all of these women in my life seemed to genuinely enjoy it.

The next step was to hand it to my one and only contact in the publishing world, a friend of mine by the name of Catherine. She agreed to look it over, but warned that she would pull no punches when telling me what she thought of it, which was perfect for me because a good dose of objective reality was precisely what I was looking for. A few weeks later, Cat got back to me saying that she was thoroughly impressed. She had some fantastic suggestions (the kinds of changes you would never think to make while writing the damn thing), and said that the next step was to try to procure the services of an agent. Coming from the publishing side, Cat informed me that most big publishing houses won't even look at an unsolicited manuscript (those that reside for eternity in the aptly christened slush pile). She said that she didn't want to get my hopes up because, in many ways, it is much more difficult to find an agent to represent you than it is to get something published.

So I wrote a letter describing who I was and what I had to offer; mainly, this novel that I'd been working on for the past five years. I sent the letter out to four agents, and heard back from two of them, both of whom said they were interested in taking a look at my manuscript.

To make a long-story-that-goes-down-much-better-over-a-few-pints short, I heard back from both agents on the same day, and both said that they were interested in trying to set something up. But to be honest, going with Westwood was an absolute no brainer. Not only are they an absolute powerhouse in the Canadian publishing world, but they have Bret "The Hitman" Hart under contract... I mean, what more could you want?

(It also didn't hurt that Hilary, my new agent {don't think I'll ever get used to that}, was hands down the most enthusiastic reader I've ever come across, to say nothing of her track record with the authors she represents {pristine}. But more than anything else, she seemed to unequivocally get me and what I was trying to convey in those pages I'd handed to her... And when you have someone going to bat for you with the publishers, that belief is the incalculable X-factor).


When I told Catherine that Westwood had offered to take me on, she really couldn't reiterate enough how rare this sort of thing is. A nothing writer with no publishing background and no established audience to speak of (save for the dotcomrades, of course) does NOT find representation with an agency like WCA. It just doesn't happen.

Well, apparently it does.



If I were Ron Burgundy, I might be inclined to say something like this.

And if I were Mikey hanging with Trent at the Bamboo Lounge, I would no longer need to worry about having to flounder like this.

But instead I'll hearken back to the greatest movie of all-time, Stand By Me, and more specifically to the scene where Chris and Gordie are walking along the train tracks, a hundred yards behind Teddy and Vern, who are in the midst of discussing whether or not a cartoon could beat up a real guy. When they cut back to Chris and Gordie, Chris says: "You could be a real writer someday, Gordie".

I wouldn't say that I'm that real writer quite yet, but I think we're starting to get somewhere.



If you want to read some excerpts from the manuscript, you can catch some of it here:

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 7


Thanks for reading.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Fan-fucking-tastic.

That is spectacular news. Congrats man. Very well deserved.

Anonymous said...

Also, in addition to my previous comment, my boss just pointed out that due to the fact you just crossed the ungodly threshold of 30 years of age, you are no longer a young, starving artist, and have simply become a starving artist. That's pretty funny.

Llibs

Peter M said...

Sean. first of all, congrats!!! You know I am one of your loyal Bloggers..I can't wait to read the entire book!! I am really happy for you Sean and I'm sure you owe Sandra large for putting up with you over what I am sure was a painfully long process.

Peter M. the Dornoch Neighbour

Anonymous said...

I can’t wait for it to become part of my leather bound book collection in my room that smells of rich mahogany.

Fucking right man, I always knew that you'd be the only one who could capture our youth on paper.
Congrats. And by the way, you're still a PETERFILE.
-Richie

Anonymous said...

I'm at a loss for words... but I am fucking ecstatic for you. Screw the blog comments section, I'm calling you.

Live your heart and never follow,
dan

Anonymous said...

It's a little late but I only found this blog now. I won't write the "EFF" word here, like everyone else, but this occasion definitely calls for a word only so grand. And if I knew my Mom or Grandma would never read it, I would write it. Oh f*%K it!!! I'll do it anyway! Well, halfway at least.

I'M SO PROUD OF YOU!!!!!!! NO ONE DESERVES IT MORE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


~ Your lil' sis. xo

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DUMBDOG said...

Hey Sean. Hilary is my agent, and has been for seven years. I just sent her a new book, the fourth, and she is just as keen today as she was when she got my first one. You couldn't do better, buddy. Congrats.

darren shawn greer

http://darrenshawngreer.blogspot.com/

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