This week we’re discussing THE CALL, be it an offer of representation from an agent or our agent calling with a book deal. I’m not one of those writers where everything happened in a whirlwind. It was slow, it was painful, but I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way (well, maybe that’s not quiet true). I sent a lot of query letters, got a lot of rejections, and it didn’t happen quickly. My agent found me the old-fashioned way, deep in the slush pile.
Now, back to the beginning.
I entered the query game in January ’12 and I lived in the trenches for 15 months. I know what you’re thinking— Amy’s book must suck. And it did— when I first started querying. I should not have started querying. When writers suggest finding critique partners, they aren’t kidding. A good beta partner will tell you the truth, even if it means saying “Try again.” After getting many rejections, I finally asked a writer friend to read my book. After a few chapters, she sent it back with a kind, but firm “You got some learning to do.”
Let me pause the story here, dear reader, to emphasize a very important lesson. Had I found some beta readers who were also authors, I could have saved myself and the agents I queried a lot of time. If you’re a newbie writer, get yourself some quality beta readers who will tell it to you straight. Not sure where to find some? Hop on Twitter and make some friends, or check out these excellent websites http://www.cpseek.com/ or http://howaboutwecp.tumblr.com/.
Fast forward to February 2013. I had some fantastic beta readers, a polished manuscript, and a shiny new query letter. I sent one to the lovely Rachel Ekstrom, and heard back exactly one month later with a full manuscript request. Her email was restrained, yet enthusiastic (and yes, I analyzed every email for such clues).
While waiting to hear back from her and a few other agents, I entered #PitMad, a Twitter pitch party run by the divine Brenda Drake. It was a last minute decision. And then it all happened! I received four agent requests and three small publisher requests. *Note: I didn’t know better at the time, but in retrospect, I shouldn’t have sent my manuscript to agents and small publishers at the same time. That wasn’t fair to the small publishers as I really wanted an agent first. So do as I say, not as I did.*
One of the publishers expressed interest, so I notified all the agents with my manuscript. Rachel quickly replied saying she was reading my book and hoped I would hold my decision until she could finish it.
The next day she asked if she could call me. I was getting a call! From a real live agent. I said now was good, and in five minutes we were chatting. She opened with a direct question – how did I feel about revisions? My answer – I can always improve. And I meant it. She said many kind and encouraging things about my book, proving she read it carefully and truly loved it. Her suggestions on what could be improved were exactly right. And because I was so nervous, and she hadn’t officially said so, I asked, “Are your offering to represent me?” She assured me this was The Call and I managed to not pass out right then with relief.
I still get a little thrill whenever I get an email or call from Rachel. I know my career is in exceptionally competent hands – and she still thinks it’s funny when I send her silly corgi pictures.
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