My LA agent had been sitting on my book for a couple of months. I’d gotten no feedback from him, only the studied silence of a poised insect. I decided to breach the stillness and give him a call.
The Phone Call
David: Happy New Year. It’s David.
Agent: Know how many Davids I know?
David: I know my full name shows up on your phone.
Agent: So kill me. What’re you calling me for?
David: Did you read my book yet?
Agent: Sure, I loved it. Some great s— in there.
David: So you want to represent the dramatic rights?
Agent: Hold on. I’ve a phone call coming in.
Papers shuffling in the background. The Agent cups the phone and yells at his Assistant. A minute or two later.
Agent: What were we talking about?
David: You representing the dramatic rights of my novel.
Agent: Yeah, no, well, I’m not sure just yet.
David: You didn’t read it, did you?
Agent: F— no. It’s over 200 pages.
David: That’s short for a novel.
Agent: The only thing I ever read over 10 pages is a lawsuit.
David: What about screenplays, do you read those?
Agent: I read the coverage.
Note: Coverage is the appraisal of a book or screenplay by a reader and usually includes the plot, characters and commercial potential.
David: And you’re looking at the coverage for my novel right now, aren’t you? That’s what your assistant just brought in.
Agent: A dolphin, a fireman, fishermen, Greece. Not exactly Iron Man.
David: The female lead is very intriguing. You could find an actress involved in environmentalism and animal rights and start from there. Actually, I think it’s a timely and resonant story that-
Agent: -Know what you need… a shark. A shark on a f—ing plane. There’s your title too. That I could sell. The thing starts from the back and eats only people in coach. Write that.
David: I’ll think about it. In the meantime, my novel…?
Agent: I give you a million dollar idea and you ask about your f—ing novel? Put some orphans on the plane, and an old lady with an oxygen tank, and a cute little dog. All sitting in coach.
David: If you’re trying to make a statement about economic inequality with a, uh, shark thriller, maybe it should eat the people in first class instead?
Agent: That’s the dumbest f—ing thing I’ve ever heard? Think about it. If the shark eats the people in first class, who will finance the f—ing film?