These are some photos of the warehouse I might be working in if I get
a temporary gig with Breakdown Press, which I’m really excited about.
The Tin Man #WhereAreTheyNow?
The Vegie Patch
Pot Belly Replete with Couch, Hammock and Actual Flu
I met Tom and Lou from Breakdown Press about me possibly managing the sales and distribution of their forthcoming title, How to Make Trouble and Influence People. I’m interested in making more trouble these days, as well as learning how to sell books. I’m also volunteering for The Lifted Brow in a similar capacity.
This makes me consider that it might be worthwhile adding this sort of thing to the list of services that Paine Management will provide.
Consultancy might be another. When I have a specific project or or book to riff on I realise I know more about this business than is immediately present in my mind most of the time.
But all of this makes me wonder if I’m trying to spread myself too thinly. if I come off as a hack – as a jack of all trades, master of none – writers and publishers might be less inclined to trust or value my judgement and quality of work. But then I know that I need to offset my ignorance of literary agency with my current skills and experience. As I build up networks as a publishing contractor, I might lever in a sneaky manuscript here and there until publishers come to me as the go-to man for new talent.
I know that I can’t expect to survive as an agent yet, and that I don’t want to limit my work to writing and production. I also know that I don’t want to get a real job, so working part time to subsidize the agency is not an option. And I figure that freelancing in the industry is bound to complement my plans for the agency to a degree that outweighs any possible dilution of Paine Management’s business identity.
So Paine Management will probably be a full-blown publishing-services business, and one of those services will be literary agency.
I’ve been mulling over the whole idea of ‘agency’ recently, in terms of the business as well as in general. I like to hook people up if they have similar interests but don’t know each other. I read people’s work, give feedback and have forwarded their work semi-formally to editors I know. I’ve been trying to agitate thought about the Productivity Commission and continued to agonize over a letter I want to send to my MP. I like to party and talk about ideas in a manic fashion on trips between the fridge and the dancefloor.
It’s all a sort of agency, in a way, and I feel that Paine Management is simply the natural progression in my career. I feel like this is how I can pick up where I left off at Voiceworks – after nurturing writers and editors into new chapters in their careers, I’m convinced that there is greater cultural capital to be generated through facillitating the publication and professional development of writers. I get to help contribute more ideas to the public debate and our nation’s cultural life than if I were to merely work away at my own writing – in a ‘hole-and-corner way’, as Orwell described it in Keep the Aspidistra Flying.
When I told my friend this, she asked me why I didn’t try to become a publisher. The long haul I’d have to put into that would yield influence on a single publishing house’s list (or my own, if I wanted to go down that path). With an agency I can pick and choose the writing I think is the best and sell it to a wide variety of publishers, yielding a more dispersed but diverse and targeted influence.
And that, ultimately, is what I want to do – influence Australia’s literary culture out of a post-colonial, post-twentieth century rut. I want to help bring in the new guard, and then another and another, perpetually, until I die. Grandiose but true.
And easier said than done. I don’t know quite how to structure Paine Management to achieve this goal, but I’m thinking that I need to just structure it somehow and get a move on. Nothing needs to be set in concrete in a hurry – isn’t that the whole thing about being self-employed? I get to make it up as I go along, which is the way things roll for me.
This is liberating and exciting beyond compare. I have never felt so sure that I had found something to do for real, for serious, for cereal. I’ve always thought a career in writing and publishing would be orright, but never have I felt so confident about going out on my own and pouring a good five years into something that may or may not bear fruit.
So this is the plan, according to right now: finish out the year eking it out on the dole, continue to faff about and mull over the future; start Paine Management on NEIS in 2010, get a work-experience placement with an Australian agency, spend twelve months establishing myself as a freelance writer, editor and production-nerd; go to New York in 2011 and get a paid placement as an assistant to an agent, continue Paine Management from abroad; move back to Melbourne in 2013 and vamp up the agency side of Paine Management; by 2015 I’ll be back on a plane, touring the world like a snake-oil salesman or something less seedy but equally manipulative, selling Australian literature into all of the world’s publishing territories (note to self: research the geographical and economic boundaries of international territories).