Oh what a year this has been.
2013 started off with so many unfortunate events. At first it was one thing, then another, and then another -- so many craptastic things just in the month of January, I actually had to laugh. And then after all of that, I parted ways with Mr. Agent Man in February after working with him exclusively for almost two years.
Oh, but it gets better. Because in March, I was laid off from my job after six years of service (along with 150 others). Seriously. What a grand year, right? I was afraid to even ask what more could happen.
It took months for me to realize that getting laid off was a huge blessing in disguise. I was so unhappy with some of the turns I'd taken in my career and even more saddened by a job that slowly stopped being the amazing creative adventure it once was. But when I sat back and looked at it for all it was worth, I realized I finally had the time to write. Hours every day, be it two in the afternoon or two in the morning...my time was finally mine.
So I wrote. I picked back up on WHERE THE WATER FALLS after putting it on the back burner in 2010, when I started working with Mr. Agent Man on THE LUCKY FEW. It only had four chapters under it's belt, but it kept pecking at the back of my mind to get in there and finish it. And so I did.
It took a couple of months to complete, revise, and send out to all of my wonderful CP's -- only to start the revision process all over again, once I'd received their feedback. When I finally felt it was in a good place, I took a break away from it all around the beginning of August...and then I started to query -- the first one went out on August 29th and I heard back within a few hours, with a request for the full.
I was beyond ecstatic. Beyond.
Because my journey - while not nearly finished - has been an incredibly long road. After all, I sent out my very first query on September 27, 2009 -- yep, that's over four years ago. And since then, I've wrote three more novels and started in on sequels for a few of them. But it was WTWF that snagged Super Agent Lisa, thanks to something on Twitter called #MSWL.
But let's back up to September: After the first request, I received three more for full's right off the bat, which was AWESOME. But then I received three rejections in one day, from big agents I'd queried and had my fingers crossed on. Then a fourth one came in. And then a fifth. And then I started to think maybe this pattern was indicative of what was to come.
I even emailed a few of my CP's letting them know I was considering throwing in the towel -- you can bet all of them told me I was nuts and most of them threatened me with the dull end of a spoon if I ever thought that way again. But it was all so exhausting, like querying usually is...and the sudden slew of negative responses was getting the better of me. Especially after four years of it.
I decided instead to take another query class from Writers Digest with agents Kate McKean and Jim McCarthy. I rewrote my query based on their feedback -- and sent it out. And then I jumped on Twitter and realized it was #MSWL day. For those not in the know, #MSWL stands for manuscript wish list: a day when literary agents Tweet their wish lists for manuscripts they hope will find a way into their slush pile. It happens only a few times a year and was started by Agent Jessica Sinsheimer and on 9/24 it was lighting up the Twitter feeds.
A few agents were looking for YA Contemporary, so I queried them. And received four new requests within a day -- one of them was from Lisa. Then another request came in based off my new query letter prior to #MSWL. Then another. And soon I had submissions out with FIFTEEN agents and TWO smaller publishers.
Holy shit. Best querying EV-VER.
And then I leave for Mazatlan, Mexico on 10/3, to celebrate my 8th anniversary with my husband. No phone reception, no internet connectivity, no nothing but sunshine, pool time, the beach, and plenty of mai tais. Of course being the person I am, I have the hardest time unplugging...so when we were walking by the small deli on our hotel grounds - the only place with free wi-fi - I connected my phone for a few minutes, just to see.
And low and behold not only was there a letter of intent from one agent, but I also received an email from another agent a few hours later, with AN OFFER OF REPRESENATION!
Me. An offer. !#$%!#!!#%@#$!
But of course I'm in Mexico...and the connection is reminescant of the old AOL dial-up days, if that. And my internet goes down. And then I get it back up again, but for some reason I can't reply to any emails. And the deli is getting ready to close for the night. OMG, by this point, I'm just slightly freaking out. I have 1.5 agents interested and I can't respond to ANYONE. How is this happening?
It's too late to go in to town and find an internet cafe, so we go back to our room and I literally cannot contain myself. I spend the rest of the night sending I-don't-even-want-to-know-how-expensive text messages to my CP's (because for some reason I can text, but can't call or email...WTF??!?!) and writing out in my notebook what I'll email back to both of these agents, should I ever gain access to the internet again. Okay, a little overly dramatic, but seriously: NO INTERNET + AGENT OFFERS = NOT GOOD.
Around 7am the next morning as soon as the little deli opened, I was waiting at the door like that woman in the old Mervyn's commercial saying "open, open, open!" with my iPad in hand and $250 in pesos, just in case I needed to buy my way to a computer. And I finally connect. It was like the clouds had parted. OMFG, I love internet connectivity. LOVE.
I replied to the offering agent letting her know I was thrilled to get her offer, that I was down in Mexico for the week, and that I'd love to chat when I returned. Then I promptly emailed the other agent and let her know I'd received an offer.
I spent an hour that day, emailing all of the agents that currently had my MS to let them know I'd received an offer - but they would have plenty of time to read / make their decision, since I was out of the country. I also emailed all of the agents I'd queried in the last two weeks. In the end, I heard back from all agents with my MS, letting me know they'd read and get back to me -- along with two new requests from those I'd queried the week before.
Over the next week another agent offered - Lisa, actually!!! - then an editor...and several politely declined. But let me tell you that while there were many great agents in that mix of R's, I now had TWO offers of rep from TWO outstanding agents and one from an editor -- and I just couldn't find it in me to feel bad about those R's!
In the end, after speaking with Lisa on the phone, I knew she was the one. She loved my story and my characters. She had notes - a couple of pages worth - that could make WTWF even stronger. And I loved every edit we talked about. It didn't feel like she was ripping apart my story. Instead it felt like she had this great vision of where she could see it going...and I was so there with her. And when I spoke to two of her current clients and they RAVED about her, it became clear. While one of the hardest decisions I've ever made, it was also one of the easiest.
I couldn't be more happy with where I've landed. And even through all the chaos of crappy internet connections, all the YEARS of querying, and everything else it's taken to get to this point, right here, I'm thrilled Lisa will champion my work. And I'm grateful for things like #MSWL that brought us together.
Final stats for WTWF:
First query sent: 8.29.13
Total queries sent: 25
Total rejections received: 6
Total requests received: 19 (16 fulls and 3 partials)
Total offers received: 4
Lisa's offer accepted: 10.23.13
I can't believe I finally get to say, I have an agent.
I have an agent.
Wow, it doesn't get any less exciting the more I say it.