Friday, April 13, 2012

Once You Sign With An Agent, The Wait Is Over (Oh, I Crack Myself Up!)



In January 2010 I started querying agents with my novel. My query letter had been workshopped and critiqued and rewritten many times. Within minutes after I finally pushed “send” – and that took me about 30 minutes the first time (so not kidding) – I received both a request for pages and a rejection.  And so it began. The yin and yang, the tug-o-war, the ups and downs of the query-go-round.  Subsequently I received more requests and even more rejections. Some were sprinkled with kindness and advice. Most were not. 

I met Jason Yarn from The Paradigm Agency about halfway through my agent-quest via a pitch contest on QueryTracker.net. I was one of five winners even though it wasn’t my pitch that got his attention, it was my first line. (Note to aspiring queriers, paste the first page(s) of your novel at the end of your query letter unless expressly forbidden. You just never know.) Next, I was invited to send Jason the full manuscript.  Emails followed. Conversations ensued. Manuscript changes were made. Then, ten months after my first query letter was sent, which was about six months after connecting with Jason, he was my agent.

Ten months and 116 queries to get an agent! That’s longer than it takes to give birth to a real live baby!

Was the process what I expected? Yes and no. I expected it to take a long time to find an agent because that’s the word on the virtual street. And you know, if it’s in a blog or on Facebook or Twitter, it’s true.  Ok, maybe not always, but it is true in this case. Also, I never expected a male agent to connect to my book because the main characters are women and I’d always pegged it as up-market women’s fiction – or as some like to say – a book club book. But I was wrong! Jason connected with the book. And more importantly he connected with me and the way I write and work. And I connected easily to the way he offers his spot-on advice.

What I was right about, and what everyone seems to be right about, is that the perfect agent for your book is the one who loves it and sees its potential as a saleable book in the current market. 

Then – after about another ten months and another round (or two) of revisions to the manuscript, Jason sold The Glass Wives to St. Martin’s Press. 

Just to kill myself kindly refresh your memory – that was twenty months after sending my first query letter. 

And last month, March 2012 – I started my official-real-can’t-believe-it-actual edits from my editor. And soon I’ll wait for her feedback. And then I’ll wait to be published in the Spring of 2013. And then I’ll wait for reviews.  

Get the gist?  

When you want to be a traditionally published author (which many, many writers still do – do not let the naysayers sway you from your dream) waiting is not idle time. There are fulltime jobs and fulltime families and time-worthy friends. There are other books to be written, short stories and essays to compose and to publish, there are industry blogs to read (ahem, you’re reading one now, good for you!) and lists to make. Heck, there are books to read!

During my waiting time since signing with Jason I have written one full novel that is under my bed conducting how-not-to-write-a-novel workshops for the dust bunnies. I’ve sent one kid off to college and learned how to live with just one kid at home. I’ve read about 100 novels and many writing books and articles and blogs and magazines. I’ve had lunch with author friends. I’ve spent time with non-writing friends. I’ve managed a freelance career. I have a full outline and the start of a synopsis for another novel. I’ve gotten a few manicures and pedicures. I have 5,000 words of a novel that will never be finished. And I have a spiral notebook full of beloved scenes and ideas and phrases and characters who are calling me. Loudly. I’ll write that novel when the waiting begins again.

Because it always does. 




24 comments:

  1. Wait (ing) is a four letter word! Thanks for sharing your story so others waiting right now won't feel so insane.

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    1. Quelling insanity is my goal! In so many ways...

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  2. Lori Nelson SpielmanApril 13, 2012 at 7:47 AM

    Terrific post, Amy. You really lay it out there, in such a real and honest way. Congratulations on your perseverance. I cannot wait to read THE GLASS WIVES. Spring of 2013, right?

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    1. Right! And now I can say "next year" which is so fun!!

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  3. Ah, the long and winding road to publication! Enjoy the ride!!!!

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    1. I am, Renee! And I'm so glad we met so you can be along for it -- and me for the rest of yours!

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  4. Great post Amy! I'm in awe of everything you accomplish! You MUST share your secret.

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    1. Everything I accomplish? Ellen!!! Your novel launches sooner than mine and you're writing book 2. Who's the one with secrets? ;-)

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  5. This is a fantastic post, really really great.

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  6. And now I can't WAIT to read The Glass Wives, which sounds fantastic!

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  7. Amy, you are my query hero. Seriously. I was so discouraged after just a few query letters I buried my head. But you made it work! You have what it takes for success!

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    1. Priscille, we all have different paths, that's for sure. But at least they've worked for us. At first I thought you wrote "queasy" hero. I'm glad I was wrong! :) Thank you for all for awesome support -- for so long. We're like old friends already!!

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  8. Wonderful post. It is weird how we have these long stretches of waiting and then blam! Such an emotional roller coaster.

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    1. Barbara,
      Glad to be on the roller coaster along side you and the BPers!! :)

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  9. Awesome post, Amy! 116, eh? Guess that's when I'll cry "uncle." I've got a way to go. Yours is one book I will lay down the cash as soon as it hits the shelves, rather than wait for it to come to the library. Talent and tenacity is what it takes.

    Densie Webb

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    1. Densie,
      It's so nice to see you her at the BP Blog! Thank you for the kind words, as always. And don't let anything stop you from pursuing traditional publishing if that's your dream. :)

      Amy

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  10. Right on target. The nitty gritty of how it really works. A long long process with light at the end of the tunnel...

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  11. Great! The whole waiting game well explicated. And you are so funny! Can't wait to read your book... Thanks for a great piece! THis is Anne B.

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