Tuesday, August 21, 2012

When Lightning Strikes Twice (or how I got an agent, redux)

I can only describe this feeling as "Kick my Mama" happy!

Never give up.
These three little words are a mantra for would-be authors. 

Here’s how I know. A little more than a year ago, I received an offer from an agent.
I liked the agent. Felt it would all work out. 

In early May 2012 after a number of mixed review submission responses, I received word from my agent that we would no longer be working together. I was crushed, of course, and a little lost about what to do with that poor, now-a-has-been, novel. I couldn’t focus on revising it at all.

So I poured myself into revising the new contemporary I’d written and it found a title, SING TO THE WIND. My CP’s were enthusiastic, loving the voice, helping me with the subtleties of all the relationships. I saw a Tweet from an agent normally closed to queries, opening specifically for YA romances. I changed my query to highlight the romance. I got an immediate request for a full. I thought, “Hmm, maybe I have something here.” So, I rejoined Querytracker and entered a couple of web contests which both garnered further requests.

In the meantime, that first full request got interesting. The agent’s intern loved my story and read it in one sitting. The agent then e-mailed and told me she was getting ready to read, she’d be back in touch soon. When she did, it was a pass, she felt the beginning was too slow. Of course, I was disappointed, but it gave me valuable feedback to stew on. I received three other R&R’s after the pass. I incorporated these agents’ invaluable suggestions and the manuscript strengthened. I sent out the revised manuscript to the agents who had requested pages and changes.

In the end I had to choose. Truly the hardest choice I’ve ever made and if those other agents are reading - know you are awesome - I made a pure and simple business decision that I felt was right for where I am in my life. 

Who did I choose? Alexandra Machinist at Janklow & Nesbit. I asked Alexandra tough questions and she answered candidly. She actually got the subconscious connection between my novel and this silly little movie I love and brought it up without me saying a word. And, for now, I’ll be her only YA contemporary author. I kind of like that. Not to mention she has an amazing sales record and her agency boasts some incredible clients. And we clicked and she was easy to talk to (though it was nice and easy talking to each of the agents who offered).

So for those of you who like numbers. (edited to add: these are the numbers for THIS manuscript. I queried two manuscripts prior to this with very different numbers - I actually think these numbers are very positive and the time line even more so.)

I started querying at the end of June. 
I sent out 31 queries (including the 4 contest requests)
I had 14 rejections.
7 no response
3 partial requests - 1 turned to a full, 1 came after accepting representation
7 full requests
1 pass on a full with suggestions
3 R&R’s
3 full offers
2 congratulations, but I’m going to step aside, after notification of offer of representation 
1 no response on a full after notification of offer of representation

So I’ll say it again. Never. Give. Up. Keep writing, keep honing your craft, keep learning how to tighten your words and your story and find the heart of things. And lean on your writer friends when things get bleak. (I used to read stories about people breaking in on their fourth, fifth, or sixth manuscript and thinking, “I’ll never have that kind of fortitude!”)

And...HOLY SHIT! I HAVE AN AGENT AGAIN!

I couldn’t have done this without the help of my peeps in Joy Neave’s summer workshop class (Leigh Ann, Megan B., Mary H., Jean B., Charlie S. and of course, Joy!) who helped me whip the first chapter into perfect shape. And my moral support team of LisaAnn Chickos, Jeanne Ryan and the gang at the #wipmadness hashtag for weepy e-mails and woe-is-me sob stories. For all the encouragement in the trenches at Verla Kay’s, and -whoa nelly - the awesome sauce beta readers - Pat “The Boss” Esden, Pam “The Cheerleader” Vickers, Kip “The Realist” Wilson, Samantha “Sexpert” Verant, Miriam “The Thoughtful” Franklin, and Jen “The Enthusiast” McConnell. Y’all are awesome. And of course, Ruth L. Stevens for picking me out of many, and Liz Briggs for the DM. 

Don’t give up. If you keep writing, keep learning, keep trying, eventually you’ll get a yes. And maybe if you need a second chance, you’ll get that, too.

I love you guys!!! Y’all are awesome!

83 comments:

  1. Congratulations, lady!! You deserve this: can't wait for the next good news :) So proud of your perseverance (and flattered to have a nickname!)

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  2. I am always so happy to hear good news like this and what a great, encouraging post for us all it is too! Happy you have an awesome agent and *inspired not to give up*

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  3. I loved reading this entire story of your journey. Thanks for sharing it. (And yes, I love the numbers. :)) Parts of your story are a lot like where I'm at or have been, and hearing this right now helps. Isn't it just staggering what can all happen in a year?

    Heaps of congratulations!

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  4. Thanks Jen, Vik, and Marcia - I've known for a little over a week, just have been waiting on the contract to be all official and stuff. It's good times for sure :0)

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  5. You DO have that kind of fortitude! And your writing just keeps getting better and better. I'm so happy you've got a fabulous agent in your corner, and expect great things to come of this partnership! Cheers!!!

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    1. Yep, you've seen the bad, the ugly, and hopefully now the good. I'm excited for next steps.

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  6. Yaay, yaaay, yaaaaaay! SO happy for you! Although as the resident realist, I have to point out that it has nothing to do with lightning or luck, but a darn fantastic manuscript!! I KNOW this one will sell and I will be cheering from the rooftops for you!! *hugs*

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    1. *hugs back* Aw thanks Kip - I can't wait to cheer back at you!

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  7. *sigh* I LOVE this story. So awesome and so well deserved. I am SO freakin excited for you and so happy to have played a small part in your journey. And seriously, let's make a champagne date soon!

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    1. Yes, lets! Have to wait till after the 31st though - the summer fund is D. Pleted.

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  8. I'm so happy I could give you a hug. *hug*

    Congrats! Hard work really does pay off. :)

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  9. Congratulations! SING TO THE WIND was one of my favorite entries in the Christmas in July contest. I love your success story. :D

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    1. Thank you, Tracey - I've been enjoying following your journey on your blog, too!

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  10. Oh I am soooooooooo happy to be able to offer my congratulations too!!!!!! So very, very happy! It's tough deciding on who's right, but the answer seems to rise to the surface easily in the end. I really am so happy for you. In relation to your first experience, one of the first questions I asked each agent I took "the call" with, was are you project based or are you looking for a long-term relationship! There are a lot of agents out there that are project-based, so to anyone reading make that one of your questions too when the time comes! : )
    Again, so happy for you - just in case you didn't quite catch my enthusiasm!! Please keep in touch! : ) Email; mclarenoz at bigpond dot com

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    1. Yep, I was dying to say "Me, too!" on your blog but was waiting on the contract. I'll e-mail you and we can chat!

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    2. It was pretty darn hard keeping quiet for sure. I had to use duct tape on my mouth and my fingers until I got my contract. Well maybe not that extreme, but it was difficult!!

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    3. Oh I LOVE being there in the background to see all of this go down. You two and your books are AWESOME!!

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  11. Congratulations!

    I'm so happy for you and I hope all goes well. I think it's exciting for other writers to see when someone succeeds, because it encourages us to never give up. Great advice and great enthusiasm. Wish you the best!

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    1. I remember starting out and seeing people talk about multiple manuscripts and feeling like "oh I could never." Turns out I could and did. Thanks!

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  12. I'm kick your mama happy too--thrilled in fact.

    You deserve this and what I suspect will be coming in the near future. YAY!!!!

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    1. Well, I think you can claim a fair percentage of words in this manuscript oh mighty CP. Or at least a significant influence. You ARE THE BEST!

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    2. I'm blushing. But it was a total joy to watch a wonderful story become the what your heart intended it to be right from the start.

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    1. Thanks, Jennifer! I hope one day you get to read it as it's the Southern one I mentioned on Twitter.

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  14. Woo-Hoo! Yes Yes- Second time's a charm!

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  15. Woohoooooo!!!! I just really couldn't be happier for you. You EARNED this, and you are one of the bravest and strongest writers I know!

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  16. Wow, great story. And congratulations. You're in good hands with that agent. Here's to a quick sale. :)

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  17. Fantastic post! I loved hearing about your journey. Congratulations!!!!

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    1. Thanks, Christina! Still waiting on your news!

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  18. Yes! I'm so happy for you! I love reading such tales of hanging-in, trying another approach, not letting the rejection stop you. Can't wait to read your book someday.

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    1. Thanks, Tricia. I always love reading journey posts, too.

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  19. Hehe...glad I could be a part of this, even if in just a teeny tiny way. SO HAPPY FOR YOU! I love this book!

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    1. You have no idea the boost you gave me. :0)

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  20. And I am SO happy for you. Best wishes for more great news. ^_^

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    1. Oh Angelina! Thank you so much - without you and the other #wipmadness'ers the writing life would be super lonely.

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  21. CONGRATULATIONS!!! I'm so excited for you, Jaye! Wish you many more successes in the future!

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  22. Had to jump over from Verla's to give an extra Woo Hoo!!! So happy and excited for you! xo YAChicka

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    1. Thanks Laurie! I hope I get to make one of those squee-filled videos like you did, one day :0)

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  23. I had to wait to get home from work before I could congratulate you, and to make up for it, I'm cheering in as many places as possible. Go JRo!!!

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    1. Beth, I have a hunch great things are on your horizon, too!

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  24. Snarf. Sexpert? Okay, I'll take it. And, as I've said before, I am so, so, so, so happy for you! I don't mind saying it over and over again. So here's hoping for a quick sale when you go out on subs. I'll SING TO THE WIND when the time comes (and throw in a few squees, too!)

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    1. Well you know - you ARE the one that had the issue with Sevenmile's name ;0)

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    2. Oh yeah. I'll keep it PG here and won't divulge how I kept reading it. ***lifts head out of the gutter***

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  25. Woohoo! *happy dance in honor of Jaye, with a few high kicks*

    That is so exciting! I'm thrilled for you, Jaye - and thanks for putting "the numbers" in this post. I know that will inspire others when they want to put their heads on their desks and give up. (Never give up!)

    You. So. Rule. :D

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    1. I supposed I should have put ALL the #'s including past manuscripts - but hey, this is today :0)

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  26. I am SOOO happy for you! This is so well deserved and I'm so glad you didn't give up :) Such an inspiration for all of us, too! Happy, happy day!!! (and I'm now very curious as to what movie this was??)

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    1. The movie was called Songcatcher. My MC likes to sing those types of old Appalachian ballads.

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  27. I love your story! And what a loser I am, I had no idea you went through such a struggle!!! I know you must have been crushed when your agent let you go, but to think, if that wouldn't have happened you wouldn't be with the awesome agent you're with now. Congrats a hundred times over!!!! You so deserve it!:)

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    1. Well, how would you know? Yes, it was difficult, but I'm a firm believer in all working out the exact way it is supposed to. Silver linings and all that :0)

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  28. JRo, so happy for you! Huge congratulations!! (So exciting to see "one of our own" wipmadnessers success stories!) Thanks for sharing your story and for being so encouraging to all of us who are trying to "never give up".

    Also, YAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!! :D

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    1. I think we'll be hearing good news from you very soon, Shari!

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  29. It's great to read such uplifting news. Thanks for sharing your story.

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  30. Congratulations!!! That is great! I can't wait to read you book!

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  31. How wonderful, Jaye! Congratulations!

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  32. I'm so happy to hear this! CONGRATS! I wish you all the luck in the world!

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  33. Came over from Verla's to check out your inspiring story. Wow! Congrats and thanks for sharing it!

    -- Barb (Owl from Verla's)

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  34. Congratulations! And thank you for the inspiration!

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  35. Wowza! Your story is inspiring and the numbers help me 'see' it all so clearly. So VERY happy for you!!!!

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  36. What a great story. Congratulations!

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  37. Congrats!! That's an amazing story. Can't wait to hear more!

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  38. Fantastic - wish you every bit of luck. Have a great week.

    PS I know you have probably been busy. Just a wee reminder that it would be great if you followed Carole's Chatter back. Cheers

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Hey, do you ever wonder why they call it 'your two cents?'