|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 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!