Monday, August 12, 2013

The Day It Got Real

I HAVE AN AGENT.

I can't believe I'm typing this post right now. This entire week has been surreal, from the first agent phone call to this incredible announcement. I'm feeling a lot of this --> !!!!!!!!!!!!!! and this --> OMGOMGOMG and this --> THANK YOU.

Before I reveal my fabulous new literary BFF, I thought I'd let you know how this whole crazy thing happened. If you're a writer who met me in the last nine months, I probably told you at some point that I kind of really intensely disliked writing contests. I didn't always - especially for my first few contests, I understood I had some growing to do and would go back and revise and hope to do better next time. But when you keep revising and you enter more contests and you revise again and you enter more and you keep losing ... eventually it gets a bit frustrating. It seemed no matter how hard I worked, nothing I did made a difference.

Until it did.

After an abysmal contest loss - one where the judge practically told me she hated everything she'd read in the first 250 words of my newest manuscript, a YA cyberthriller - I put my head down and started my first chapter over. I rewrote the same 6 pages for a month, trying to figure out where my story really started. When I came up again for air, I still wasn't sure it was the right place. I needed a way to test the effectiveness of my new chapter before I started querying. Unfortunately the best way to do that ... was through a contest.

Two, actually. I know, I went crazy. The first was Like a Virgin, the pitch contest I blogged about below, where 10 entries would be chosen and posted online for agent review. The second was Xmas in July, another pitch contest in which 30 winning entries would be chosen and posted for agents to make requests.

Somehow, by some miracle, I made the cut. For both.

For someone whose past experience with the query trenches was one or two requests per 20 queries, getting 11 requests between these two contests blew me away. And while winning doesn't guarantee representation - I still received a few rejections in the weeks following - something very different was happening. I was receiving personalized and complimentary feedback from the agents who passed. And then one day I got an email from an agent who said she hadn't finished reading the book yet, but she was loving it. Did I have time to chat that weekend?

YES. YES I DID.

Commence the past week's flurry of activity, emailing the agents who had sample pages to let them know I had an offer of representation and ask if they'd like to consider me too. There was much dancing around the kitchen and exchange of animated gifs/ALL CAPS between myself and my amazing critique partners who had pushed me to keep going, and - bless them - read multiple renditions of my chapter 1 rewrites. I don't think I'll ever be able to repay the genuine kindness, support, and enthusiasm that TashLori, and Chelsea provided to me and continue to provide. (Read: If you don't have them already, get some amazing CPs)

I was lucky enough to receive multiple offers for my little book, and am absolutely thrilled to announce that I have signed with Brianne Johnson of Writers House. There are so many things about working with Bri that excite me and I can't wait to see what the next few months hold!

**The book herein referenced is my third novel. It was polished to a shiny finish with the help of three CPs before going out on submission. I'll be the first to admit that I was often insecure about whether or not I could "make it" with my writing, but I had some amazing support from family and friends, and this awesome little quote from Earl Nightingale to keep me going: "Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway." Read: You can do this too.
 

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