Deb Linda’s Tale of Two Calls

The Call


In preparation for this post I went back and reread an email exchange between my agent (the inimitable Michelle Wolfson) and me. It’s twenty seven messages long, and spans about week — the time between when she first requested the full manuscript of In A Fix and when I accepted her offer of representation.


Just reading those early emails again brought the exciting flutter of butterflies back to my stomach. From the questions Michelle shot to me as she was reading I could tell she really got my book, and cared about my characters. It was so much fun talking the details of the book with a real live publishing professional! I’d had other agents interested, some of them quite complimentary, but Michelle took the cake for her sheer enthusiasm.


So, when I saw this DM in my message box on Twitter a few days after I sent her my full, you can imagine how excited I got:

WolfsonLiterary: LOVE your ms. Can I reach you tomorrow? Would a surprise call have been better? Sorry to ruin that.

Well, as you know from past posts, “spoilers” don’t bother me in the least. I spent a very pleasant twenty-four hours getting the squealing out of my system, and was (if I’m remembering correctly — Michelle may remember it otherwise *grin*) even rather coherent by the time she called. Hmm. Maybe that was the intent behind her DM warning. She’s clever, that lady!


The more we talked, the more certain I was that she was The One. I couldn’t accept her offer right away, because some other agents were still reading the full, and I didn’t think it would be professional to yank it back without considering them. Being new to this whole game, I asked Michelle what she thought would be a fair amount of time to give them to finish. When she laughed, and said, “How about an hour?” I was even more certain I wanted her. A sense of humor is essential agent equipment, as far as I’m concerned.


Ultimately, the deciding factor for me was that Michelle was up front with me. She loved In a Fix, but she didn’t try to blow sunshine up my nether region. The lighter, funnier fantasy stuff wasn’t (at that time, anyway) selling as easily as the darker stuff, but she promised to work her, um, tushie off to find my book a good home. Told me she thought author and agent had the same goal, and should always work as a team. That resonated with me.


The Call, Part Deux


Of course I chose Michelle (was the suspense killing you?), and we worked and worked, and tried and tried, to sell In a Fix. Got lots of positive feedback from editors (and possibly some negative — Michelle only told me the stuff she thought would be “useful” to me *grin*), and even made it as far as the editorial boards (where editors try to convince their publishing house they should buy your book) a few times. But Michelle had been right — even the houses who liked it weren’t sure where to put it. Talk about a roller coaster.


I was getting pretty discouraged about my prospects, so I started writing a more traditional romance, thinking it might be easier to place. I wanted to be fully involved with a new project if Michelle decided it was time to pull the plug on In a Fix, because no way was I going to give up my dream of someday being published.


Pause to insert: “Never give up, never surrender!” ~Tim Allen’s character in Galaxy Quest


About five minutes after I sent an email to Michelle telling her what my contingency plan was, she called and told me Melissa Frain, an editor at Tor, wanted to buy not only In a Fix, but the next book in the series, too. (!!!!!)


(Here comes the part I never even told Michelle about that call.)


A long beep went off as I started to squeal in delight. It was the timer on the egg cooker. As I listened to Michelle give me the details of the deal, I was circling the house, from the den, through the living room, past the dining room, into the kitchen (what? can you sit still when you’re excited?), and, in passing, grabbed the top off the cooker one-handed.


Um, have I mentioned that egg cookers get very hot? And that if you don’t remove their tops using the handles, and both hands, you will burn the bejeesus out of yourself? Yeah. That. (See? I told you kitchens and I are not a good mix.)


So, the squeals Michelle heard on the phone that day were not *cough* entirely due to her good news. I was just too embarrassed about my clumsiness to mention it to her at the time. It’s only in the interest of honesty that I bring it up now.Β  Because you should realize getting a book deal isn’t all sunshine and rainbow puppies. Sometimes it hurts.


But, you know, I didn’t even mind the blisters that hung around on my fingers for a good two weeks after that call. In fact, every sting put a smile on my face.


So, have you ever had any good news accentuated by excruciating pain? Other than while giving birth, I mean? (Strike that. Giving birth totally counts.)


P.S. The period between every paragraph isn’t me being stylish. It’s because WordPress wouldn’t let me have spaces between them, for some mysterious reason. Probably just to drive me crazy.


44 Replies to “Deb Linda’s Tale of Two Calls”

  1. Hey, ever great victory comes with a price, right? I think I’d definitely take some blistered fingers in exchange for a deal! πŸ™‚

    1. Absolutely! Well worth it. Though I think once is enough. No need for it to become a tradition or anything, if I’m lucky enough to sell more books. πŸ˜‰

  2. Fantastic story, finger burns and all. I always hoped that if I ever got “a call” the agent would be kind enough to warn me. I hate being blindsided. Congrats again Linda. You so deserve all the good things.

  3. Michelle is the best! And I love how she screens her clients head space and gives us only what we need to know. *grin* I can’t say I was injured during the call but I was stupid from lack of sleep. I was just too damn excited–the mind wouldn’t turn off. Ahhhh It was perfect. Glad your my agency sistah!

    1. Ditto, K-pop! πŸ™‚ I think the Wolf Pack needs to get together in NYC someday for a howling big party. Of course, all of us together in one spot might just make poor Michelle’s head explode.

  4. So funny. Usually I like to spring The Call on clients. But I think since we’d been emailing so much I went a different route. Who knows. I like to mix it up. I do very vividly remember that frantic email that arrived 5 minutes before I called you with an offer (for a book deal) though. From my vacation, might I add! And that picture of us–cracks me up every time I see it.

    It’s fun to read what clients remember/experienced versus what I remembered. If it helps any, you all sound way more calm than you think you do. Sometimes I think *I’m* the one who sounds out of control excited. πŸ™‚

    1. Do agents ever really get vacations? There’s no escape from frantic clients! *grin*

      And you always sound ENTHUSIASTIC on the phone, but never out of control. πŸ™‚

  5. Oh, Linda, we always knew you were HOT! Now we have indisputable proof!(*licks finger, touches post, sizzle-sound*)

    And I didn’t realize it was a two-book deal–woohoo! Or should I say: WooTWO!! Are you writing/editing book 2 now?

    You are so right about knowing when an agent is THE ONE. Like any good relationship, chemistry is so important. The ability to communicate and communicate freely and honestly–after all, you both want the same thing.

    1. LOL! Yeah, I’ve always been smokin’ hot with kitchen appliances.

      I’m finishing up book 2 now that book 1 is almost out of my hands. I tend to edit as I write — I’m a compulsive tweaker. It’s like picking lint off a sweater whenever I open a WIP. *grin*

    1. I know I sure think so. We laugh at the same things, which I believe is the basis for any good relationship. All that stuff she knows about selling books doesn’t hurt, either. πŸ˜‰

  6. I love learning the “inside” details of Fun Times. And I am so happy for you. I can’t wait to be fixed up with In A Fix.

    Take care,

  7. Linda, you are absolutely squee-ably adorable. I love it. I love these happy stories about writing. I can’t wait to read IN A FIX. I’m sure it’ll be just as great as you are. (HOPEFULLY, with a dash of dirty.)

  8. It sounds like you absolutely got the agent you deserve. (And the more you and others write about her, the more every other writer in the world wants to claim her, too!) Can hardly wait to read your book. If it’s even half as good as your blog, it’ll be super. (And thanks for the nice words on Anne’s blog today.)

  9. I love this story – isn’t it fun how the ‘real life’ stuff that happens when we’re creating what are supposed to be glamorous and iconic memories? Heh. Glad there was no permanent scarring from it!

      1. Aw. Sorry you’re sick, but it made perfect sense to me. (Hmm. What does that say about me?) Hope you feel better soon! πŸ™‚

  10. Made of awesome sauce! And I totally would have burned myself in the process (I paced like that during my call, too)–LOL!! I’ve never been over to this site–waves to everybody!!!

    1. Hi Christina! Welcome. Kick your shoes off and have a look around. Jump in wherever you like. Nice to meet another pacer. *grin*

  11. Giving birth totally counts!!!

    I’m a klutz, so pain is always mixed with pleasure.

    Oh, to avoid the periods, go to HTML view and put this in between paragraphs:

    It makes a space!

    1. Thanks! It was driving me crazy. Don’t know why it was misbehaving this time when it never had before. Weird. (Oh, and your fix isn’t showing up he on the blog, but it came through in my email notification.)

  12. I love hearing stories about The Call. And yours was a hot one! (innocent blink)

    I haven’t had the pleasure (nay, sizzling excitement) of an editor call yet (note to self: when phone rings, grab oven mitts), but the agent call was a complete and total shock. I’d sent him the whole honking huge manuscript on a Friday and did not expect to hear back from him for AT LEAST two weeks, and that was being optimistic) and he called the following Monday afternoon, wildly enthusiastic. He’d read the entire thing in one weekend. I was totally gobsmacked. I also happened to be sick and not completely on my game, so I probably sounded like “Wha…? Huh…?”

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