Posted in Literary Agents, Publishing, Uncategorized

The Literary Agent Puzzle

Hey Guys,

How are you all? I hope if you were one of the many people hit with major snow this week, you’re now beginning to dig yourself out. Me? I’m so very happy to say that my little corner of Upstate, NY was not hit. Like at all. It’s so weird, because we always get hit. But I won’t complain. I’m definitely happy to share the white fluffy stuff for a change!

So my post today may seem a bit out of order. Many of you may have read my post a few weeks ago What Happens After you Sign with a Literary Agent. Well, early this week I had a conversation with a client that prompted me to write this post today. It probably would have been helpful to read sooner, but ideas for posts come when they come. 🙂

Earlier this week, I was speaking with one of my business clients, whom I’ll call Mr. X. After we finished touching base on the status of the project, he asked me, “How do you know if a literary agent is good?”

Before I talk about how I answered, I’ll give you a little background…Mr. X is aware that I recently signed with a literary agent. We’ve often spoke of how difficult it is to get a book published traditionally. In fact, during his career, he has had several business type books self published, and the book I’m ghostwriting for him will also be sold directly on amazon once I’m finished. So upon hearing his question, I figured he was just asking to make conversation.

I came to find out however, that he has also hired a ghostwriter to write a memoir for one of his close friends, and this book, (he feels) may be able to get traditionally published. So he asked me how to find a good literary agent—and if I knew any good ones who represented adult memoirs.

Wow. That’s such a loaded question…and it brought me back several years—seven to be exact.

When I first started writing and thinking about getting my manuscript published, I asked myself the same question. Although I had been writing for a little while, I had no idea what was involved in seeing my manuscript in print. So I set out to learn everything I could about making it happen.

And it wasn’t easy.

In fact, it took me FOREVER to figure it out. Many days I felt like the publishing business was a big puzzle—with hundreds of pieces, not all of which were even in the puzzle box.  I had to search high and low to find them, and then once I did I had to figure out where they fit into the big puzzle picture.

childrens_puzzle_pieces_scattered.png

I read as many books as I could on the business of publishing. I searched the internet for articles on getting a book published. I read author websites, looking for any piece of helpful information. I read writing blogs—endlessly and religiously. I was kind of obsessive about it actually, almost like a sponge soaking up anything I could.

This became my life.

When I wasn’t writing or reading (or doing the mom/ wife thing) I was trying to make sense of the whole publishing thing. And what I learned early on was that if I was going to have any chance of being traditionally published, I needed to get myself a literary agent.  (Easier said than done!) But once my attention was turned to literary agents, I had to learn WHICH literary agents to target.

So over the next few years, I followed and read all I could about any agent who represented middle grade fiction. Then as I became ready to query them, I put together a list. And because the years flew by and I eventually queried three different manuscripts, some literary agents on my list came and went. Others became ultra successful and were becoming more selective. Not that they weren’t looking for the best books early on in their careers, but as the years went on, they only had room on their lists to sign one or two new clients each year. New agents came on the scene and I had to learn all I could about them as well.

So the thing is, it became a never ending search for agents that would be a good fit for my manuscript. It wasn’t something I could find after one day of browsing the internet. And that’s exactly what I told Mr. X. If he wanted to find an agent that might be interested in his memoir, he would need to do some research. A lot of research.

And that’s what I would tell any knew writer looking to get traditionally published. Information on literary agents is out there, but just like writing the manuscript itself, no one can do the work for you. You have to do it yourself.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t ask for help. In fact, if Mr. X had been trying to find an agent to represent a children’s book I would have had more information to share. But in the world of memoirs, I am as clueless as any new writer!

But for the rest of you who are on Twitter and writing sites, gathering all the information you can on agents that rep your age group and genre, you’re doing the right thing. I wish I had a magic wand that I could wave…matching you up with your perfect agent or at least help you find those missing puzzle pieces—but I can’t. It’s all up to you. But, if you keep at it long enough, have a polished manuscript, and are willing to learn, you won’t need anyone’s magic wand.

You will be enough.

Good luck my friends, I hope you find a good bunch of agents for your query list. One of them may just be a key piece to your puzzle…and the one person who can best champion your work!

Ta ta for now… I hope we’ll chat soon!

Jackie

 

 

 

 

Posted in Literary Agents

Guest Blogger, Melyssa Mercado: Getting the Call

Hey Guys,

You’re in for a treat today. My lovely, talented, and supremely hysterical Critique Partner, Melyssa Mercado is in the house today!!

Cue the applause!

A little louder, please…

Okay, now stop. 

Thanks!

I am so thrilled to welcome Mel to the site as my first ever guest blogger. How cool is that?? I only wish her visit was in person- like at a chic NYC cafe or an Upstate, NY eatery with lots of wine and pasta or coffee and snickerdoodles instead, but we have to start somewhere right, so a little storytelling right here on the blog will have to do. 🙂

Mel writes middle grade fiction (and some YA too) and recently got the call with her dream literary agent. Here’s how it all happened in her own words: 

 

I’m SO excited to be hanging out on my CP’s blog-couch today! Thanks for having me, my friend!! xo

 

*hands out cookies*

 

*primps words*

 

Okay, I have to start off by saying that without Jackie and my other incredibly talented CPs, I wouldn’t be here with a call-story to tell. CP friends are a writer’s truest treasure! ❤

 

*picks gold dust out of Jackie’s hair*

 

So I posted an agent call story on my blog here like two minutes after I accepted my agent’s offer—Needless to say, my adrenaline might have been a weensy bit…accelerated. But now that I’ve had a few months to settle into the story, and Jackie has so kindly asked me to share it here on her beautiful blog, I’d love to give it another go…

 

Calmly.

 

 

Melyssa- Julia Roberts pic

 

 

With poise.

 

 

Melyssa- Kristen Wigg pic

 

And control.

 

 

Melyssa- baby pic

 

 

This is why I can’t be invited to places.

 

But until security is called…

 

My writing road travels back as far as I can remember. Coming up with scripts for a camp play, begging my friends to give me random topics, so I could turn them into short stories, and then there was my diary…well, let’s just say we don’t have enough time. Words have always been a part of my personal footprint—along with my dream of writing a book. Over the years, I’ve accumulated my weight in unfinished stories, ideas, and maybe-one-days. Then, about three years ago—when I could no longer zip up my dream-pants—I decided to go full steam ahead on the publication trail.

 

Little did I know how much there was to learn. Just because I’d been writing my whole life, didn’t mean I was ready my whole life. You guys know what I’m talking about—show don’t tell, info dumps, prologues…yeah, good times.

I joined Twitter so I could participate in Brenda Drake’s #PitchWars (social media always gave me the willies, so this was a really big deal for me).

 

Best decision ever.

 

My marble notebook was soon packed with tips and workshop links, generously offered by our incredible online writing community.

 

Then, like many of my writing buddies, I entered a bunch of online contests. I reached out and found CPs who all had the same dream. We traded stories, revisions, pitches, and queries back and forth. I can’t say enough about the Critique Partner process. These guys helped me shine up my stories and were, basically, the most supportive people on the planet. Who knew I wasn’t alone in this big bold writing world?

 

I wrote, and revised, and wrote, and revised…Fantasy to contemporary. 3rd person to 1st. Present tense to past. YA to MG. Some pitches made it into contests. Some didn’t. Some entries got requests. Some got none. Some queries got partials and fulls, and others got form-rejections all the way home (Dueling Dragons has nothing on this emotional ride, y’all).

 

All throughout, I devoured every single success story I could get my eyes on. I read them not only for the positive pick-me-ups, and to support my friends who’d been in the query trenches with me, but for any hint, or clue to their success.

 

Maybe I could follow their lead.

 

Maybe I could do the same thing they did.

 

Maybe. Maybe. Stick my head in gravy.

 

But then one day, it happened. After a vigorous round of queries for my latest MG Contemporary story, I received an offer of representation.

 

An offer.

 

From a real agent. (I checked)

 

Excited doesn’t even begin to cover this feeling. I blinked for several days afterward, still not convinced it happened. Did an agent really just offer to represent me? And not only for this new story, but for a second story I’d written, too?

 

*blinks and blinks and blinks*

 

But it was true. She offered! All of our communication was done through email. And thanks to the ga-zillion agent success stories I’d read, I knew an actual “call” didn’t always happen, so I was good with it. The offering agent was extremely generous in giving me time to let the other agents know of my offer. She was a real pro and totally understood my need to extend this courtesy without any pressure.

 

Nudge emails went out right away. I informed the other agents of the offer and told them I was looking to make a decision in a week. And true to everything I’d ever read about nudge emails, my querying spreadsheet immediately began to fill with responses. Emails back with either a wish-me-well pass or a request for the full manuscript and time to read.

 

Vicki Selvaggio of The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency was one of agents who asked for the full manuscript and time to read. She said she’d get back to me within the requested time frame, and even added a sweet personal note saying she was expecting this nudge-email based on my query. It was an immediate connection. And, of course, I asked her for the following week’s lottery numbers.

 

Now to wait and see what she thought of the full story.

 

Meanwhile, more wish-me-wells came in. Some of the agents were interested in the story, but just didn’t have time to read by the deadline. Some just didn’t connect. But I have to say that I was floored by all the extremely busy agents who took the time to get back to me one way or the other so promptly. By mid-week, my spreadsheet was complete and it was down to Vicki and the first offering agent.

 

Feel free to triple whatever level of nail-biting excitement you can imagine going on between me and my super-power writing buddies during this whole week (especially, since one of them was also going back and forth with an offer of her own at this exact same time *points at Jackie*)

 

While I waited to hear back from Vicki, the offering agent sent me her contract to review, as well as some comments she had on both my stories.  Every one of her emails were lovely, kind, and extremely enthusiastic about my work. I was able to envision implementing most of the notes, while others veered slightly from the story’s path. But I’d done enough research to know that changes are to be expected in publication, so I was totally ready to take on the challenge.

 

During this time, Vicki was also emailing me, requesting additional info: What else I was working on? Could I send a short pitch for all my WIPs?

 

Um, yeah, I could! …Here’s her chance to run screaming.

 

I laid it all out there. WIPs, premises, genres…a particularly odd title for a MG Halloween story, which revealed the full measure of my inner-MG silliness. I even included a tidbit about a Historical Romance I’ve been dying to start. *swoons all over HR*

 

She didn’t run.

 

Or scream.

 

And when Vicki wrote again, exactly when she said she would, and asked for a call that very same night, my blink was off the charts. I still might need a patch.

 

We talked for about an hour. She had notes on my stories also. She loved that I wrote with humor (which was a biggie for me). And the story changes she had in mind weren’t on style, but more along the lines of structure.

 

I could do structure.

 

She asked more questions:

 

How do I feel about the collaborative process?

 

My middle name’s Half Chopstick.

 

How long have I been writing?

 

Just start with forever and count backwards.

 

She filled me in some more on her professional background, and told me how much she loved helping new writers shape and build their careers. We talked about family, life, more writing stuff. And we just clicked. When Vicki offered me representation right there on the spot (for both of these stories and the future WIPs I’d told her about), I just knew in my heart she was the one.

 

The first offering agent was completely awesome, no doubt about it. But sometimes a choice comes down to a feeling and Vicki was just the rightest one for me (yes, rightest is a word). I wrote to tell the first agent of my decision, and she had nothing but genuine happiness and good wishes for me and my new agent.

 

So with my decision made, Vicki sent the contract and I signed! WOO!! *champagne pop*

 

The road is still being paved to seeing one of my stories on a shelf, and I know there are no guarantees on anything, but for me, having someone in your corner who believes not only in what you do, but how you do it is invaluable.

 

I can’t wait to read all of your agent call stories next!! Thanks for spending some time with mine.

 

And thanks again for having me, Jackie! 💜💜💜 You are the purplest!

 

*snags two cookies for the blog ride home*

 

Okay Guys, so forgive me while I wipe the tears of virtual joy away. Reading call stories always get me anyway, but this one really got me because it happened to someone I know and love and treasure.

You sooo deserve this Mel and I’m so very proud of you! Just wait until the world gets their hands on your books. They will never want to put them down!  

And the weirdest part is that Mel and I both signed with our literary agents in the SAME WEEK-just like Mel said. I couldn’t have written the scene better myself! Just as I was freaking out over my call, Mel was freaking out over hers too. So you can imagine what our messages back and forth were like! It was a crazy, unbelievable week and I’m so happy to have had her to share it with.

Thanks Mel, for sharing your story with all of us (and for bringing the cookies!). I know we’ll all be rooting for you- to see your words in print. Feel free to stop by the blog anytime. We can’t to read about your publishing news one day. And next time feel free to bring the champagne so we can celebrate. Oh wait, never mind. I guess I should have it here waiting for you! ❤

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Literary Agents

What Happens After you Sign with a Literary Agent

Hey all,

I thought today I’d chat about a subject that’s shrouded in mystery for most writers:

What happens after a writer finally becomes represented by a literary agent?

This experience is different for every writer. There are hundreds of literary agents out there, and when you match them up with the thousands of writers who sign with them, the results can vary. So, I can only speak for myself when I bring up this topic. However, there are some commonalities that I like to focus on so that maybe, somehow, you’ll feel less anxiety should you ever find yourself courted by your own fabulous literary agent.

For me, the days that followed my signing with Golden Wheat Literary were a whirlwind, and actually not that much different than I pictured, imagined, and dreamed it would be like for the last seven years. A permanent smile was plastered across my face as I made calls to my closest family members and friends. I told everyone who asked the story of how Rebecca Angus requested my pages, how she eventually requested the full, how much she adored my book (yes adored!), all about our amazing phone conversation including her offer of representation and her exciting plan for my manuscript. (Yikes!)

It was an exhausting and exhilarating and crazy and wonderful time! For the full story click here.

That first week was something special because not only did I gain an advocate for my work, I gained a slew of writer friends at the agency including their founder, literary agent Jessica Schmeidler too. It immediately felt like a combination of a family full of encouragement and congratulations, and a team that I had just been selected to.  It felt (and still does feel) amazing to become a part of something so fantastic that I’ve work so hard for, for so long.

I have to admit that suddenly being represented by a literary agent felt like validation—like I had finally made it to the big leagues or something. I can’t explain it any better except to say, I felt like I’d just jumped into the basket of a hot air balloon that was going to carry me to the next level in my quest to get my manuscript published.

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 Over the course of that first week after signing, Rebecca and I communicated mainly through email.  She let me know what I should expect from her in the weeks to come, and a pretty specific timeline for when I should expect it. It was all so reassuring and made this journey into the unknown somehow less daunting.

So this is the part you’re probably all dying to know. What’s the timeline? How soon after I sign, will my book actually go out on submission to editors? Well as I said before, every writer’s manuscript is different and every agent’s  situation is different.

Overall, here is my understanding of what happens next for most every writer.

A writer will receive an edit letter. But here’s where every agent and letter is obviously different. Some edit letters will indicate massive changes, and some will indicate minor ones depending on the readiness of the manuscript.

The other big question you’re probably wondering is how long after I sign with an agent will I receive my edit letter. Well, that depends on the agent and the condition of your manuscript too. If an agent handles hundreds of clients, it may take her longer to complete it and then send it along to you. If it’s a busy time of year, it may take her longer as well. If your manuscript needs massive revisions, the letter will take a bit longer still.

But here’s the thing, you will probably know the answers to these questions by the end of your call with the agent, or at least before you sign on the dotted line. Rebecca and I spoke at length about the condition of my manuscript and how ready it was to go out on submission during our call. I felt very confident and clear at the end of the call about what the next step would be for me.

Many agents are very good with communication. I am thrilled to say that Rebecca is one of them. She was in constant contact with me immediately after signing and was very specific about the time frame. It made it much easier to manage my expectations and not refresh my email every forty-five seconds. She was also clear with what I should be doing until I received my edit letter. We had talked during the call about a sequel to my manuscript and she was on board with the idea. Since I had already planned out the major plot points, she encouraged me to get started on it.

So that’s what I did while I waited for my edit letter from her. She also put me in touch with one of the other middle grade writers that she recently signed on to represent. The agency has a fantastic “team” philosophy and it was a great way to come off the bench so to speak. Ultimately we ended up reading each others manuscripts… I immediately felt like  part of the team, acting as an additional beta reader for an amazingly talented author. I’m not sure if this happens often or rarely, but that’s what happened for me.

Rebecca also made me aware of the comp titles she would be using to pitch my manuscript in her proposal, and wanted my opinion. (My opinion!) So be prepared for that. A few were titles I had not read, so it gave me a chance to read a couple of recently published middle grade books similar to my own. It was a fun assignment to have because now it was sort of my “job” to read—which of course I was eager to do!

Some agents are more active on social media than others, and depending on how yours is, that may be a way that you communicate in an informal way in addition to phone calls or email. Rebecca happens to be pretty active and I’ve come to appreciate that she’s busy and inundated with emails—from querying writers, clients, editors…so interacting on Twitter is a way we can connect even if I’m not receiving weekly emails from her. When I tweet that I’m working on some new chapters, and she favorites my tweet or replies with a word of encouragement—it’s like an unofficial check-in. I don’t have to email her with my progress, but she’s still aware of what I’m doing. So it’s possible your agent may work this way too.

I received an evaluation of my manuscript and my edit letter from Rebecca a few weeks after signing, and got to work right away on revisions. They were like gold in my hands! I couldn’t wait to read through them and then dig right in. It was time to polish my manuscript up to a shine. 🙂 Meanwhile, Rebecca was busy preparing a list of editors she would target in the first round of submissions, and also the proposal she would present to them with regards to my book. What’s included in that proposal I will include in a future post if I am able to disclose that info. This is all pretty new to me so I want to be sure not to speak on anything that may be confidential.

After I completed my revisions, I sent my manuscript back to her and crossed my fingers. Its always nerve wracking having someone read your manuscript, and even more so when it’s your new agent!  But she loved my revisions and I was fortunate that I didn’t need to revise a second time. However, many writers go through several revisions before their agent feels it’s ready to go out on submission. In fact, its pretty common from what I understand.  So be ready for whatever’s thrown your way—Be open to his/ her expertise, be sure you understand what they’re requesting, and take your time getting it right. As much as you want to hurry and get your baby out into the world, you’ll have a better chance of ultimate success if you make your story into the best possible version of itself.

So that’s it. That’s what happens immediately after signing. Of course there are exceptions to this and if there are I’m sure I’m not the only one who would love to hear them…so comment away! Or comment anyway if you’d just like to say Hi!

I hope this topic has been helpful. I always handle new situations better when I have at least a vague idea of what to expect. Hopefully this info can do that for you.

Because your time will soon come.

If you keep at it long enough and work hard to improve your craft, it just will. Because it only takes one agent to love your work—to become an advocate for your story. I’m so lucky to have found mine! Now go on and write something—and if you haven’t already, go find yours! ❤

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*Photo credits- unknown

 

 

 

Posted in Literary Agents, Publishing

I Have an Agent Announcement!

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but the moments that take our breath away.

Hey Everyone,

I have news that I can finally share…

I have an agent!!!

After 8 years of writing, revising, querying, waiting, hoping, dreaming, and wishing to find the perfect Literary Agent to represent me and my middle grade work, I am thrilled to finally say…

I am now represented by the amazing Rebecca Angus of Golden Wheat Literary!

Please excuse me while I faint a little on the keyboard of my laptop. And then pinch myself, because I’m still overwhelmed and shocked that I’m not dreaming any of this. I mean 8 years, three manuscripts and loads of rejections in a supremely competitive marketplace has been my world until one week ago!

If you’re interested to read on, I’ll share with you the story of how my writing career changed in one normal day. Just one. It wasn’t too long ago that I mentioned on this blog that I’ve never dreaded Mondays the way many people do. I see each Monday as a day full of endless possibilities for the week to come. ( A little sappy, I know!) At the time though, I had no idea how true that statement would soon become for me.

My writing journey began eight years ago with a middle grade manuscript and a dream to become a published author. I whipped out an entire novel in 6 months flat and sent it out to one literary agent after another, positive that each one would be the one. If I knew then that it would actually take me three manuscripts, many more revisions, countless rejections and all this time to get to this point, I’m not sure I would have pressed on. Wow, am I glad I’m a patient person.

So how exactly did this big moment finally happen for me?

In May of 2011, I was in the process of querying my second novel. I was also fresh off a trip to the University Maryland for the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals (a creative problem solving competition) with my team of 11 year-olds. It was an unforgettable experience and I decided right then, that I needed to write a new middle grade story. Not about Odyssey of the Mind specifically but about 5 kids who embark on an unforgettable journey. What that journey would be, I wasn’t yet sure, but I knew that it had to be special. It had to be amazing. It had to be over the top.

And so I spent the next year brainstorming what this story should look like. I began drafting in the spring of 2012, and by late spring of 2013 I had a completed draft and somewhat revised manuscript. I wasn’t ready to query yet though. The story needed polishing, and many more revisions.

I continued to revise over the summer and in the fall I found an amazing soon to be published critique partner on a blog I had been a long time reader of, Miss Snark’s First Victim. And though separated by hundreds of miles, she was able to help make the story stronger. She also walked me through her publishing process. I learned so much from her and made a special friend as well. Faithful readers to this site will know I’m talking about Beth Hautala, author of the amazing MG novel, Waiting For Unicorns. I am so grateful for her early feedback on this book.

While Beth was reading for me, I began work on my query letter, knowing that I’d be sending it out to literary agents  eventually. Soon after, I saw that a well respected agent was hosting a query letter event—a mock slush pile read. In it, she would tell participating writers whether or not she would reject it if it came across her desk (and why) or if she would request additional pages. I was anxious to hear what she thought because she had requested the full of my second novel ( and eventually passed) the year before. To my shock and surprise my letter was one of 5 out of 616 that received a request for the full manuscript! As in, she wanted to read the whole MS, giving me a shot at representation (again)!

Say what?? I nearly fell off my chair when I got that email.

So naturally I panicked because this story had been read by no one yet. (Except a few chapters by Beth, but I hadn’t gotten her feedback yet). My two critique groups for my earlier manuscripts had kind of disbanded and I hadn’t found anyone else to read  for me yet. My husband, like the Prince Charming with no writing experience that he is, offered to read it—to at least let me know about any glaring mistakes. So on a business flight across country, he emailed me and texted me page numbers where he needed clarification and where he saw typos. I was so thankful for his sharp eye and support on the fly!

Months later, the agent politely declined to represent me. But what she offered instead was priceless. She emailed me pages of feedback detailing the strengths of the MS and her suggestions for how to make it stronger.  She loved the concept, characters, and story but advised me to make some changes to make it strong enough for representation  before querying other agents. She saw potential but not for her own list. I couldn’t believe an agent would take the time to help a writer who she had no plans to represent.

It took me over a year (with work and family commitments) to make the changes based on Beth’s feedback and the agent’s feedback too. It was a frustrating time because the changes were not major but I had little time to work on it! But as I chipped away (lots of late nights and early mornings) I saw my manuscript  improving.

But still my manuscript was not ready. Call me picky but I knew it needed more work.

Enter fall of 2014. A new reader of this blog contacted me about becoming critique partners. She and I were in similar situations. We both wrote MG. We both had written several manuscripts. We both had received countless rejections, but we both also had a fiery determination to improve and make our stories stronger.  We clicked right away, and I knew at once that not only would her feedback be invaluable, her friendship would be too. And I was right! The feedback I got from Melyssa Mercado was spot on and amazingly insightful. My story is what it is because of her and I value her friendship and support immensely. I began the querying process soon after, even though Mel was still working on my chapters. I couldn’t help it. I knew it was too soon but I was impatient and had waited so long to get this story out there.

So I sent the first round of queries out – 6 in all and got one partial request.  That agent eventually passed so I stopped querying. I did however participate in my first Twitter pitch event, #Pitmad. It was a great experience. I made many new great writer friends, received two requests on my pitch, and soon submitted my query and pages to those agents. One requested additional pages, but ultimately she passed as well.

During this time, I also submitted to Pitch Wars, an event hosted by Brenda Drake, where published authors can choose to mentor you in order to make your manuscript perfect and attract the attention of agents. I was not chosen, but the feedback on my query letter and first chapter was extremely helpful. Each mentor had a fresh perspective and made me look at my story in a new way. It was just the kick in the pants my query letter and opening pages needed.

Throughout the winter, I worked hard to revise based on those comments and Mel’s feedback too, but decided to wait on submitting until she was finished with my book.

In May 2015, after Mel finished, I began round 2. I queried six more agents. This time, I received no requests. Discouraged, I began to think I was pitching this book all wrong—again.

In June, I decided to enter the next #PitMad Twitter event, in hopes of attracting the attention of agents (again). I received several favorites on my pitches this time, three from small presses, one from an agent who had already passed on my MS, and one from Jessica Schmeidler at Golden Wheat Literary, a brand new literary agency. Intrigued, I submitted to Jessica the first three chapters and synopsis, and waited for her response.

Soon after, in July, I changed my query letter and my opening pages and decided to go ahead with round three—another six agents. I received a few rejections from these and honestly just waited for the rest of the rejections to come in.

Weeks later, I learned that Pitch Wars, the mentor competition I had entered last year was coming up. I decided to enter, thinking even if I didn’t get picked for mentoring, I may get useful feedback on why my query letter and opening pages were not hooking the right agent for my book. (As I did the year before.) So I decided not to query another agent or enter another contest until I got their feedback. I figured it was a waste of time anyway. If my query and opening pages weren’t strong enough, why bother? So, I spent the next week polishing my submission materials for Pitch Wars.

But around 7am on July 15th, I woke up, glanced at my Twitter feed, and noticed another pitch party was happening that day, #Pit2Pub. I wasn’t at all prepared to participate in this one. I didn’t have a ton of pitches ready and I didn’t feel like being tethered to Twitter all day, getting my hopes up once again. Besides, I had decided enough was enough for a while. But something convinced me to throw a couple of pitches out anyway and see what happens.

So I tweeted two pitches. Just two. Definitely not enough to catch an agent’s eye as the fast moving twitter feed rolled by. I actually did get two favorites though, but from small e-book publishers. I was happy they were interested, but really I was still holding out hope that an agent would fall in love with my book and help me get it traditionally published.

The next day, On July 16th, I got a notification from Twitter. I had another favorite on my pitch! And it was from an agent, Rebecca Angus. I looked her up and (almost) to my dismay, I realized she was also an agent at Golden Wheat Literary. Translation: It was the same agency that I had already submitted my chapters to, not another agency interested in my book. But I was excited thinking that maybe my book would be a good fit for their agency since now two agents there had favorited my pitches! So…since Jessica had not yet responded about my book, I sent a her a message asking how I should proceed. I also thanked Rebecca for her interest but pointed out that Jessica had my chapters already. Later that day, Jessica forwarded my chapters to Rebecca, whom she thought might be a better fit for my book.

Okay then. I was excited, but not jumping for joy. Why? Well, lots of agents had read the opening chapters of my manuscript—16 so far. And they had all rejected it. And I had been through this whole process with my other two manuscripts also, so I was used to not getting my hopes up. But still the wait began—again!

On July 22nd, I received an email from Rebecca Angus. She told me she loved my first few chapters and would like to read the full manuscript if it was still available! So of course I did a mini happy dance and sent her the full within the next few minutes.

For days I tried to forget that my book baby was in Rebecca’s hands, tried to forget that she could be the agent that finally loved it as much as me, tried to ward off negative thoughts and stay positive. But it was hard! I researched Golden Wheat Literary. I stalked Rebecca. Lol She followed me on Twitter! (gasp!) I followed her right back. I followed her clients. And mostly I tried to not get my hopes up. But I realized a LONG time ago, that doesn’t work anyway. Think positive. Picture the outcome you desire, blah, blah, blah…

A few weeks passed and suddenly it was August 10th.

A Monday. The day of the week most full of possibilities. 🙂

Rebecca emailed me in the afternoon. She said she had read halfway through my manuscript and adored it so far. She wondered if it was still available and asked me a question.

I practically passed out. She adored it so far! She adored it so far! OMG she adored it so far!

I thanked her for her kind words, told her I hoped the rest could live up to her expectations, answered her question and then waited to hear from her again.  And then I held my breath.

But I didn’t have to hold it long.

Rebecca emailed me later that evening. She told me she had finished my manuscript and it was everything she hoped it would be and more! She said it again in all caps. She loved my story so much and wanted to set up a call to talk about representation. She wanted to call me!

I read her email and my eyes filled.  My breath caught and I almost broke down. Was this really happening to me? Had Rebecca just offered to represent me?

I raced down the stairs to find my husband (my prince Charming who saved the day with this manuscript two years earlier). He screamed and hugged me. I beamed and called for my kids. They screamed and hugged me too. I turned around in circles, and spewed some incoherent words, not sure what to do next.

I tried to respond to Rebecca’s email but all I could think to write was OMG! OMG! OMG!  So I decided to wait awhile before drafting that response!

Eventually I remembered how to think again and we set up The Call for three days later. That night we spoke on the phone for over two hours. She told me what she loved about my book, her very specific plan for submitting it, and more. So much more. We clicked immediately and I knew from the first few moments that Rebecca and Golden Wheat Literary would be the perfect fit for me and for my MG story.

She had been an Odyssey of the Mind kid. She understood the over the top world I had tried to create in my story. She loved the voice. She loved the characters. She loved the themes. She loved the futuristic elements. She loved the conflict. Listening to her gush about my little story, I felt like she loved it as much as I did. And I knew without a doubt that she was the right advocate for me and for my work.

At the end of The Call, she officially offered to represent me and a half hour later, I had a contract in my hand! Rebecca gave me time to think it over an urged me to let any agents who had chapters of my ms know that I had an offer on the table and give them a chance to respond.

As you can imagine, the next week was agonizingly slow. I nudged the other agents and had a request from one of the top ones on my list.  Ultimately though, my decision was easy. I really no longer wanted representation by any of the other agents. I had an offer from my dream agent. I didn’t want to wait! But I did wait the appropriate time. It was professional courtesy after all.

Rebecca and I corresponded all week. She answered my neurotic questions and sent me amazing messages about my book on Twitter. I was anxious and excited and just wanted to make it official.

Finally, I contacted Rebecca Angus, literary agent extraordinaire, thanked her again for the offer, told her I would be honored to work with her and Golden Wheat Lit, and signed the contract. Then I covered my face and let out a breath I had been holding for eight long years.

I have an agent! I have an agent! I have an agent! And I feel so very blessed!

So for all of you who think your time will never come, think again…

“All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.”  ~ Walt Disney

Thank you to all of you (my husband, my children, my family, my friends, my critique partners, my writing peeps, and those involved in PitchWars and #Pit2Pub) who believed that I could reach this milestone. It means everything to me…

But now the hard work begins.  My book isn’t on bookstore bookshelves just yet. But at least this is a start! 🙂