Corrupted Chapter 13, Page 1Omar Tyree
A Serial E-book
Getting Into The Game
Antonio took a deep breath and exhaled. He was on his cell phone during his lunch hour at the Post Office, and he had walked outside and away from the building for more privacy. He was on his fifth follow-up call with a prospective literary agent, and he was nervous as hell about it. It was a dream-breaking process.
“Hello, who’s holding?” the female assistant answered.
Antonio shook his head and waited on the line again. The gatekeepers, assistants and secretaries seemed to make the process even more tedious. With all of the waiting on the line for the assistants to put him through, he hadn’t gotten a chance to eat yet.
“Antonio, John just stepped out of his office. Can I take a number and have him to call you back?”
“Definitely,” Antonio told her. He gave her his contact information and hung up.
“That was such bullshit,” he snapped to himself. “If he was out of the office, she could have told me that five minutes ago.”
Undeterred, he moved on and called the next contact on his list of eight. He headed further away from the Post Office building and deeper into the employee parking lot.
“Hello,” another female assistant answered.
“Yes, this is Antonio Martinez, calling for Jason Pliers.”
He no longer bothered to state what he was calling about. That only gave the gatekeepers more information to stop him with.
“Do you have an appointment?”
That question stumped a second. He didn’t have an appointment. But he lied and said that he did anyway. “Yes, I’m following up on an e-mail response,” he told her. He prepared to lie some more if he needed to. What was the use? He needed to get on the line with these folks.
“Okay, hold on,” she told him.
Antonio frowned, agitated by the whole process. He had held the line for twenty-five minutes and conversed for only five.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” he told himself, growing more frustrated by the minute.
“Hello,” the same assistant answered after holding.
“Yes, I’m still holding for Jason Pliers.”
“Oh, Antonio, right?”
She clicked him back on hold again. Antonio took another exasperating breath and mumbled, “Shit. This is ridiculous.”
He had wasted the first half of his lunch hour, mostly holding the line, only to be rushed off of the phone whenever he was able to speak to anyone. The first few agents had not even read the sample of work he had sent them. And it had been a week.
“This is Jason,” the agent answered tersely. He sounded as no nonsense as the rest of them. Even the lone woman agent sounded tough that morning.
Finally! Antonio thought as he fell into his prepared speech. “Yes, I’m Antonio Martinez. I sent you an e-mail last week regarding you representing my work.”
“Oh, yeah, the werewolf series, right?” the agent confirmed.
“Yes, A Crazy Moon,” Antonio answered of his revised title. He figured La Luna Loco would make a great title in its Spanish translation. It sounded natural and halfway romantic.
“Well, I have to admit, I haven’t had a chance to read through it yet, but it seems interesting.”
Okay, at least he likes the idea, Antonio told himself.
In desperation, he added, “I already have an editor interested in publishing it. He just said I had to retool it a bit and sign with an agent or a lawyer to represent me.”
“Oh, yeah, what editor was that?”
It was the moment of truth. Antonio figured, Fuck it! It’s all or nothing. If Vincent turns his back on me then he was never really interested. He also wanted to see how much power the editor had in the publishing world.
So he answered, “Vincent Biddle at Williams and Klein Publishing. I met him during the BEA.” And he waited for the response.
“Really, Vincent Biddle liked your work? He doesn’t typically do paranormal.”
“That’s why he liked it. It’s about presenting something different nowadays. And his marketing partner, Lauren, couldn’t wait to get her hands on me.” He chuckled and said, “She thought I had the look.”
He didn’t know if the agent knew about the gorgeous Indian woman or not, but he was on a roll, so he with it.
“Lauren? Lauren Brandeis?” the agent asked him.
“Yeah, I think that’s her name. A beautiful, tall East Indian woman? I can’t seem to find the card that she gave me.”
The agent chuckled and said, “Well, it sounds like they’re ready to give you the Jackson Smith treatment. Did they talk to you about changing your name yet?”
Antonio paused. He didn’t know anything about that. Why would he change his name?
“Ahhh, no,” he answered confused. “We just went over a game plan for the werewolf mythology, and then Lauren asked me if I ever thought about writing for Broadway or anything,” he added. He was laying it on thick. What the hell did he have to lose? Feeling desperate and impatient, he was pressed to make noise to get in by any means necessary.
“Well, let me take a look at it and see what you have.”
Antonio told him, “I’m still working on revising the rest of it. But I should have it done by the time you read the first samples.” He was being coy. He figured that agents were so bogged down with manuscripts that they barely had time to read anything.
Jason quipped, “What if I read it all this evening? Would you have the rest for me to read tomorrow?”
Antonio laughed it off, liking the countermove of the agent. “If you did that, I would be really surprised. It seems like no one has the time to read anything.”
“Oh yeah, what other agents have you talked to?”
“Does it matter? I only need one,” Antonio answered snidely. He then caught himself. Oh, shit, why did I say that? Fuck! He didn’t want to come off as pompous, but the waiting game from earlier had already soured his mood.
Nevertheless, Jason Pliers laughed it off. He said, “You’re absolutely right. You only need one. Do you live in New York?”
“Not yet. I’m still over in Jersey City.”
“Good move, it’s cheaper.”
“Yeah, it is. But it can get a little tedious catching the train in and out of New York.”
“I do the same thing from Long Island,” the agent responded. “But I’m able to get a lot of my reading done on the train.”
“Oh, yeah, good point. I write about Long Island in my books,” Antonio hinted.
“Yeah, it’s part of the New York experience.”
“Really, what parts have you been to?”
“Mainly the beach areas. But it’s been awhile. We used to go up there every summer to get away from the city.”
“Yeah, it gives you that feeling, doesn’t it? That’s why I still commute. But if I need to stay in New York for a few days or a week or so, then I’ll just grab a hotel.”
“That must be nice,” Antonio hinted. “I met with a lot of writers and editors who were staying downtown in New York during the BEA.”
“Yeah, I was there too.”
“I guess that’s the hottest event of the year for publishers and writers, huh?”
“Yeah, just about. But it’s a bummer that they’ll keep it in New York for awhile, due to the economy. I used to like traveling with the BEA.”
“Yeah, that’s what I heard from everyone. I would love to attend a BEA party in Miami one of these years myself.”
Jason laughed out loud. “That’s
the ticket. Enjoy it all.”
“Aw, you have to. We have to show the world that writers are not just these cerebral prunes. We have a little bit of swagger in us and sexiness too.” He was thinking all about Darlene went he said it. She had really surprised him with her sexiness.
Antonio was simply talking the man up, being his natural self again. He forgot all about the pressure and anxiety of talking about books and publishing. People were people, so it was time to express who he was. And it worked. The agent felt really comfortable with him.
“Well, Antonio, what kind of agent are you looking for? Do you plan to just write books, dabble into Broadway and Hollywood screenplays or what? Because I represent it all.”
Antonio had to pause for a minute to think about it. “Well, I’d like to try whatever you can sell. But first, I ah, you know, would like to get my series out there.”
“Oh, of course. You gotta get into the game first. So let me read through this and ah, I’ll give you a call back by . . . let’s say tomorrow.”
That surprised Antonio. The man was showing a sense of urgency. So he grinned and nodded his head with the phone in hand.
“That sounds good to me.”
“Okay, so don’t run out and sign anything that you don’t want to. Let me read through it and get back to you first.”
“All right, that’s a deal,” Antonio agreed.
When he hung up, he was smiling so hard that a pair of women co-workers thought that he looked insane. They were climbing out of a car after getting back from lunch.
“What’s on your mind?” the driver asked him quizzically. She was a slim and long, white woman in her early thirties, wearing a loose fitting, blue Post Office uniform. Her co-worker was a shorter, plump Latina woman with a much tighter fitting uniform.
Antonio shook it off and answered, “Nothing. Nothing at all.” Then he began to hurry toward the entrance of the parking lot for a nearby avenue of lunch spots. He only had twenty minutes or so left for lunch.
You’ll all just have to wait and see, he told himself. And so will I.
He didn’t bother to call the final two contacts on his list. He wanted to end his first day of calls on a good note, and he planned to follow up with the rest only if Jason Pliers failed to call back or was uninterested. He liked the easy flowing conversation with the guy. He figured he could talk to him like a normal person. And that meant as much to him as the business that they would do.
Vincent Biddle smiled in his grey suit and tie with white dress shirt behind his brand new, wooden desk. He had moved on up in the company again, earning more money, more responsibility, and had moved into a much bigger office. Even his window view was better now, and he felt great about all of it!
“Our bid for Darlene’s American Love Story is in,” he told Susan, as she walked in and sat down across from his desk in one of the two conference chairs. She wore a royal blue, business skirt set with a yellow shirt and blue heels.
She nodded. “The book is really good. So, who are bidding against this time?”
Vincent continued to smile, mischeviously. “Impact Publishing,” he answered. “Kensington and St. Martin’s inquired about it and bailed out as soon as our first bid came in.”
Susan paused. Then she asked him, “How much was the bid?”
“One hundred thousand.”
She thought about it. Impact Publishing didn’t usually bid against the lions. They were usually on the lower scale of the pecking order. So she asked him, “And Impact remained in it?” That surprised her.
Vincent shrugged, still smiling. “Only for a day or two,” he responded. “Agents have a job to do to ask for more money. So, I’d figured we’d wait and see how serious they are on the other side. I’m curious about their game plan.”
He realized that that Brittney Enis, his past assistant and short-term flame, was behind it all. That’s what made the so-called “war” unusually exciting for him. Susan could read it all in his body language. Vincent was nearly delirious, a kid plotting on a golden cookie jar.
In fact, it became contagious and made Susan smile. “Well, I’m glad you seem to be enjoying it,” she hinted.
“You’ll learn to enjoy it too,” he told her. “The key is never to panic. You have to go about it like you don’t even care about the book. It’s only money. But you do care about what the other guys want. That’s the key to winning. You find out what they’re willing to do, and you do more of it.”
“What if they go all the way up to two hundred thousand?” Susan asked for the hell of it.
“Then somebody must have hit the lottery over there,” he joked. “But I seriously doubt that they’ll go past one-twenty-five. I’m thinking more so about the incentives that they’ll try to offer. What are they gonna promise her? That’s what the game is all about here. They wanted to match our six figures, and then try to offer her a bunch of options to sweeten the deal.”
Vincent had won out on book bids in past that way himself, particularly early on in his career before he could be trusted with bigger budgets. Once his budgets increased to hundreds of thousands of dollars, he no longer had to make so many promises. The authors would simply take more money and allow him to guide their careers as he liked. But the present American economy had sliced the advance budgets back down to size, forcing him to remember his early roots of negotiations in the trenches. And it indeed excited him.
He said, “They already expect us to throw more money at her. That would make it easy, but it would be a lot less fun. And if you can’t have any fun in this business, then what’s the use?”
Susan smiled and nodded, but she didn’t exactly agree with him. There were real lives and careers at stake from real people that he was having so much “fun” with. They were not playing video games, where no one would get hurt. So she took it a lot more seriously.
“So anyway, how do you like your new office?”
Susan had a new, small office right next to his, with her own window view, although her view wasn’t half as big as his.
“Oh, I love it,” she perked. “Just being able to have a door now allows me to concentrate a lot more.”
“I can imagine. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a cubicle,” he reflected. “People constantly popping in and out and around your space was a real headache, especially with those who like to be in everyone’s business.”
Susan giggled and said, “You know exactly what I’m talking about.”
“Girl, I have been there and done that, and I am not going back.”
They shared a laugh as his office phone rang from the desk. Vincent looked at the caller identification and raised his brow.
Jason Pliers? I wonder what he wants, he pondered.
Susan watched his reaction and asked him, “Is that a call you need to take?”
Vincent shook it off. “Nah, I’ll call him back later. I just haven’t heard from the guy in a while, you know.” He looked around asked her, “So, what do you think about our new office?”
Susan grinned and said, “Your new office. I have my own office now.”