I was in Berlin when I got “The Phone Call.”
For those of you who aren’t aspiring to publication, The Phone Call is when an agent calls to offer representation. (Or an editor calls to offer publication.) The Phone Call is a wonderful, stressful, don’t-ruin-it-by-saying-something-stupid freakout for a writer. It’s a chance for the agent to check if you’re high-maintenance, and a chance for you to find out how the agent views your book and your potential future career.
Now, technically, it wasn’t *quite* The Phone Call when I was in Berlin. It was the email to schedule The Phone Call. But it contained the words “discuss representation,” so it was as near The Phone Call as I could get when 750 miles away from my phone.
Actually, technically I didn’t *get* the email. My husband got the email. I was visiting Germany with my mom and older son, while he stayed home in England with the baby (and the computers). Since I’d started querying, I’d become obsessive about mail and email. Even though I’d sent out the full manuscript only two weeks before, and it usually takes an agent months to read a full, I asked him to check my email EVERY DAY just in case.
Good thing I did!
When he relayed the news, I dictated a carefully worded response, trying to exude enthusiasm and conceal desperation. She responded the next day, assuring me (my husband read to me) that we could wait until I returned to talk on the phone. That was a relief, because I was shy of attempting the balancing act of charm and caution that is The Phone Call with my mom and kid listening in, and besides that the phone situation where we were staying was complicated. I had ten days to wait.
A lot of my “bathroom time”–the only privacy I got–was spent acting out different clever, insightful responses to everything I guessed she might ask.
Luckily, there were lots of distractions: castles and Alps and trompe l’oeil, and helping my mom track down one of her childhood homes (she had to move a lot during the War).
When we got home again, I was happy to have my baby and husband back, happy to have my bed again, and PSYCHED to finally have MY Phone Call.
Cameron McClure of the Donald Maass Agency rocks. That is all.
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