Things moved quickly when Dhonielle and I first started working on the book that would become Tiny Pretty Things. We’d both been working on our own stuff as well, and D had gotten an amazing agent for her middle grade work. And the agent was intrigued by the ballet book’s concept — and the idea of CAKE Literary. So we ended up quickly signing with her, too, and got to work on completing the manuscript. Then we did a revision. And another revision. And another revision. Clearly, we’re not afraid of revision, since we worked on the book for nearly two years — but after what felt like one too many passes, it was becoming clear that, as much as we loved Big Agent and her awesome reputation and her true kindness, this book was not a good fit for her list. We would revise forever, and she would never pull the trigger. It was time to move on.
This wasn’t an easy decision. Dhonielle is, let’s just say, change-averse, and while I don’t love it either, I’ve been known to shake things up every so often. So we talked about it, and decided it was time. And, in the process, D decided it was time for her to leave Big Agent for her personal work too. Now, don’t get us wrong. Big Agent is awesome. She has a gorgeous aesthetic (see the CAKE website — it just wouldn’t be that gorgeous without her guidance), and reps some of the most amazing writers ever. And those revisions did improve the book. But the book was ready. We were ready. It was time. And so I managed to convince Dhonielle to give it one more go — despite the fact that we had “missed the ballet trend,” that two unpubbed authors couldn’t start a packaging company, that we were fools to leave Big Agent.
We did another revision. (Yes, another one!) Then we we queried a handful of agents — including one we loved who had read earlier drafts of the book. And naturally, while we were on sub, I broke some news to Dhonielle. I was pregnant. (Yes, Navdeep already knew.) Perfect timing. But within a week of that, we got word from Awesome Agent that she was interested in repping the manuscript — and CAKE. And then, checking in with the others we queried, we got a couple of offers, too. Including one from another Big Agent. But we had a great feeling about Awesome Agent (whom you can find here!), because she was young and hungry, building her list, but with some solid sales, fun to chat with over a glass of proseco and a hamburger (yay for people who eat!), and super-collaborative about the process. In our previous agent relationship, Big Agent was definitely in charge. With Awesome Agent, we knew, this would be a collaboration. And when you think about D and I — both bossy firstborns — that only makes sense.
And within two weeks, the book — then Dark Pointe — went out. About two weeks after that, we got our first bite, which Awesome Agent very tentatively conveyed via email. Then we got a few more. Then Awesome Agent did some negotiating. And instead of having “a call,” we went in for a meeting, since we were in New York. And we landed happily at HarperTeen. At our first meeting there, with the awesome Sarah Landis (now departed to HMH, but missed) and Jen Klonsky, we knew we were in the right hands. They had great vision for the book and its sequel, and they loved baked goods nearly as much as we do. (We know, because we all had some together to celebrate!) Plus, no one rubbed my (by then big ole) belly when we went to visit, which is much appreciated. We’ve gotten a new editor on the team since — the amazing Emilia Rhodes (and Alice! Hi Alice!), and we’re super-excited about how things are going.
So what I’m saying here is: while we got the call pretty quickly after we went out on sub with Awesome Agent, we definitely took a long, hard road to get there, full of potholes and missteps and detours galore. But we learned so much along the way, things that have made us better writers (and stronger businesswomen). Things turned out the way they were meant to turn out. And I wouldn’t change a thing.