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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.

19 comments:

  1. Ah, Natalie, this is so inspiring, and I'm just thrilled for you. Best of luck as you move forward with Brianne.

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    1. Thank you, Erika! I'm so excited and still a bit in shock.

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  2. Woo hoo! Congrats again, Natalie! DUPLICITY's opening pages are awesome and I'll snatch it up in a bookshop :)

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    1. Thank you so much, I appreciate it!

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  3. I love reading these stories so much! Congratulations, Nat, and best of luck moving forward. :)

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  4. Aww, thank you, the enthusiasm and support was repaid in spades! So thrilled for you and Brandon!

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    1. Thanks, lady ;) Could not have done it without you. Seriously.

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  5. Natalie, I'm so happy for you! :) Uncle Todd

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  6. Best wishes for continued successs. I've completed my first manuscript and wonder if I'll ever finish editing. I'll be attending my first ACFW contest to start the rejection process this week. I keep telling my friends it's a long road to publication. At the end of the day, I write because I enjoy it. It's God's job to clear the path for publication.

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    1. Thank you! I don't think I'll ever be done revising either - even if I get lucky enough to snag a book deal there will be revisions - but you do the best you can and each round of changes makes your work stronger :) The ACFW will be a great place to network! Good luck to you as well!

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  7. Congrats on signing with Bri. I think she is just awesome. :)

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    1. Thanks so much! I'm finding that's a common sentiment among her clients ;)

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  8. Wow! I love to read about writers, who have been where I am and persevered. So inspiring! Thank you for sharing and congratulations to both you and Brianne!

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    1. Thank you so much! Good luck on your search as well!

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  9. SO exciting...As I'm catching up on a few of your posts it's interesting to see the contrast between July 12 and Aug. 12! Awesomeness...and if you have a minutes, I'd love to learn more about getting CP's...above and beyond the amazing friends and family who offer to read, but crit partners who are also in the trenches. Thanks :)

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    1. Absolutely! I found my CPs through contests like Pitch Wars - basically, I read an entry I absolutely LOVED and found the author on Twitter to tell her how much I loved it and that if she ever needed another set of eyes, I would be happy to read the whole thing. She took me up on my offer and we are now good friends :) My second CP found me the same way, she read my entry and commented under it that she really liked it and did I need someone to read the whole thing? Yup, yup I did. And -poof-, another CP :) Though you could always find them more formally on sites like CPseek.com - it didn't exist "in my day" (ha!) but I've heard good things about it.

      It is crazy how fast things can change! But goes to show you never know how close you are and should definitely, definitely keep going.

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  10. Good to know- and a great way to find a good match! Thank you :)

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