All About My Publishing Journey: From Manuscript to Query to AGENT
May 9, 2017
May 9, 2017
In the wise words of Miss Snark (and the note taped on my office wall as a kick-in-the-ass reminder)
Query widely. Don’t fret about no. Get to yes.
And guess what? I sure as shit did.
Take a little jaunt with me on my publishing journey from writing to query to FREAKING AGENT.
Five years ago, a child-free, married woman, I began writing my first novel. Every Sunday, from 9am to 5pm, I would write. I turned down invitations to hang out with friends. Let the good old DVR record favorite TV shows. Existed solely on caffeine and wine. Thanked my husband for bringing me a steady stream of meals INTO MAY OFFICE AND MAH BELLY.
About two and a half years into it, I was done. Or so I thought. I queried 30 agents, got a slew of rejections…but also two full MS requests. Nothing came of those. Just nice words and encouraging feedback.
Then I got knocked up. And slowed down. I had my baby and got busy.
But my book wasn’t done. So I quit my job and finished it.
Or so I thought.
A few more rejections and I started to get despondent. Self-doubt started to creep in. But never so much that I wanted to give up. Sure, I wallowed. Went through the stages of writerly grief, but always rallied. I needed a kick in the ass. I didn’t know where to go to make it better. I was looking too close and couldn’t step away. So I took a chance. I asked author-extraordinaire Ronlyn Domingue to read my novel. When she said yes, I was shell-shocked. She was in the process of starting her own editing services (more on this fantastic editor/author/wizard soon) and though she normally doesn’t read manuscripts when asked, I had the right timing and on a gut level, she felt like it was the right thing to do. Wonderful, her. Fortuitous, me.
Weeks later I received an editorial letter that made me want to drink a bottle of arsenic red wine. It wasn’t bad feedback at all. It was amazingly helpful, but it was WORK. A shit ton. If I wanted to make my book better, it was up to me.
So from August 2016 to December 2016 I knuckled down and rewrote literally 75% of my novel. This new draft came easy, like it was meant to be, and that’s when I knew it was right. I edited. Polished. Got me some beta readers. Then, feeling ready again, I started cold querying in late January. I queried 30 agents (spread out across the months) and got seven full MS requests, but no takers. I was close. I could feel it. And then…
I got my first offer from a small press. I squeed. Drank wine to celebrate. More wine. Asked for time to ponder. The next day, I did the professional etiquette thing and let other agents who I had queried or were still reading know about the offer. After weeks of e-mail silence, my Gmail looked like:
Gmail – Inbox (5)
Thrills and chills and overwhelming WTF-ness. That week I sent out three more full manuscripts to the requesting agents, got another offer from a different small press, and drank more wine.
I first queried Victoria Marini in 2016 when she was with Gelfman Schneider Literary Agency. I got a bounce back e-mail noting her move to Irene Goodman and to re-submit in the fall. A week later, I had Ronlyn’s editorial letter in my hand and was contemplating revising my MS, so the bounce back seemed serendipitous. Victoria had been on my list for a long while. Her manuscript wish list and website hit me hard. Something in my gut was telling me she was it. My novel seemed like it would be right up her alley, so since she was one of my top agents I decided to patiently bide my time until my manuscript was finally, really, truly finished.
A week before I got my offer with the small press, I queried her again. After she received my “notification of rep” e-mail, she immediately wrote back asking for the full. Two days later, she wrote back asking if we could chat. My mind looped-de-looped. Was this THE CALL? Or was it some sort of query-induced hallucination? I didn’t want to assume. I need self loathing and doubt and despair so as to not get my hopes up. But I couldn’t help being a tiny bit excited. I screamed in front of my toddler and hopped around the kitchen like a panicked rabbit.
Two days later, when Victoria and I got on the phone, and she said the words, I LOVE THIS, my heart was jackhammered. It was the call. Holy shit, I had a real live agent on the line.
Despite all my fangirling and derpy UHHS and LIKES and UMMMS, Victoria was a pro. Smart and savvy and eager and friendly. It was the dreamiest of dreams. Her vision for my book matched up my mine. She understood where it should go and loved my main character as hard as I do. She was also a hands-on agent who sought out a long-term partnership, a career-driven one, which I deeply wanted as well.
I took the weekend to think about my options, but I already knew. I was so appreciative for the small press offer, but deep in my heart I wanted an agent. And Victoria was the one.
I can say I have signed with Victoria Marini of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency. I am incredibly thrilled and thankful to be represented by this stellar agent who will pimp my current work and my future work.
LET THE CELEBRATION COMMENCE!
Okay, and now backtowritingbye.
This whole process has been goddamn rough and emotionally draining. You doubt yourself. You want to give up, throw your manuscript (and maybe yourself) under a train and take your frustration out on your long-suffering husband (Hiiii, honey!). But it’s been my dream for a long, long time and I could never just give up on it. As frustrated and depressed as I sometimes got with my writing and the rejections and the why-am-I-even-doing-this-again? thoughts, it has been a process of growth. All the revisions and drafts and querying and editing help so necessary to whom and where I am now. It’s not fun while you’re in it, but in the afterglow, it’s worthwhile. Every single rejection spurred me on. 99% of the agents I interacted with (Jenny Bent! Suzie Townsend!) were amazingly kind and encouraging. It’s almost surreal that I have accomplished this next stage. A slap-the-shit-out-of-me kind of moment. An offer of representation. An agent. A possible-maybe home for my book, sometime in the future. More books in the pipeline. This has been a dream I’ve had for such a long time and it’s surreal that it is now here.
I got it.
I did it.
My heart is over and out and has left the building.