Friday, July 25, 2014

That time I got an agent

No, you read that right. Believe me, I've read and reread that same sentence over and over again. I read it so many times that I nearly printed it out and slathered it up with lemon juice just so I could hold it under a lamp and see what ancient fineprint revealed to me that I was flipping out about nothing. That this was nothing more than a cruel lucid dream that would disintegrate the moment my eyes opened.

But it was no dream. Besides, my dreams usually involve talking dinosaurs and a much handsomer Cuyler. No, it was the real deal.


I have finally crawled out of that dark, dirty, and insufferable pit we call the query trenches. But, as any agented author will tell you, it was anything but easy. It involved a lot of work, pain, crying, animal sacrifice (just kidding), and dedication.

Before I wrote GILDED FEVER, I'd really only dabbled in querying. I roughly knew what it was and the basics of what should be included, but that was about it. I hadn't realized that it would take much more than looking up a list of names and sending them a quick email, and it really showed in the kind of responses I received: REJECTION REJECTION REJECTION. Trying not to be disheartened, I realized that I needed to reevaluate my querying process. So I took a break from querying agents, submitted my query for critiques from published authors, and attended events for writers. I really gleaned so much from this, and came to realize that querying was so much more than sending an email. It was an art. With this newfound information in my querying arsenal, now I needed something new to query. That's when GILDED FEVER was born.

It was just before NaNoWriMo, and I really wanted to participate this year. GILDED FEVER had become a solid brain-baby, and I was pumped and ready to start. So November 1st came, and I wrote like I'd never written before. GILDED FEVER churned out of my fingertips without lax, and I ended up winning NaNoWriMo for the first time! But GILDED FEVER wasn't finished winning. The next month, I entered my new manuscript in the Pitch Wars contest hosted by YA author Brenda Drake. With my newly crafted query and a manuscript I was crazy about, GILDED FEVER won Pitch Wars as 1st Alternate Finalist. My prize: a fantastic mentor and four amazing CPs who I absolutely love and am so thankful for. My mentor, Trisha Leaver, gave GILDED FEVER new life with her powers of editing, and my CPs became the best cheerleaders I could ask for. Now with a shiny new manuscript, it was time to get back into the throes of querying.

I felt ready. I felt confident. I felt dang near invincible. Then the rejections started to roll in. REJECTION REJECTION REJECTION. I didn't get it. Why was I still getting so many rejections? Sure, I received some requests for partials and fulls, but for about half a year what I was getting most were big, fat rejections.

I kind of looked like this:

I really didn't know what to do. I talked to a few author friends, consulted the Fearless Five gang (Trisha and my fantastic CPs), and tweaked my query letter like a billion times. I felt like I was trying to look through the dark with a faulty flashlight. I didn't know what would work, when it would work. Then I realized something. This business is not only a hard one because talent needs to be flowing out your backend, but it's so intensely difficult because this is a thoroughly subjective business. There was one common thread with each rejection letter that I received: "Though this manuscript was not right for me, I am sure that it will be different for someone elsewhere." I'm sure all you queriers wading through the query trenches right now are perpetually nodding your head at this. It was something I saw in nearly every single rejection I received. And you know what? It was right.

It had now been seven months of straight querying, and my email notification sound on my phone now possessed the ability to momentarily incapacitate me. I was heading to my next class after lunch when my phone went off, hurling my stomach down to my toes. I froze in mid-hallway, and slipped out my phone. I clicked on the little email icon, and read the email. Except there was no this wasn't for me, but someone else might think different. Nope, none of that. Just a simple, "I am enjoying this so far. I would like to schedule a phone call."

This was me now:

Needless to say, I squealed like no man should squeal, and had to promptly explain why I was in fact not having an aneurism. Also, I can't even remember what lecture was about that day. But who cares--I was going to get THE CALL!

And I did get that call. Me and Fabulous Agent Lady spoke on the phone for nearly an hour straight, talked books--MY BOOKS--and talked about our future as partners in crime. It was flipping fantastic. I swear I got no sleep that night. I am also not ashamed to say that there was more squealing. A few days later, I signed with Fabulous Agent Lady. Cue Rocky Theme.

I would like you to meet Fabulous Agent Lady, AKA Sandy Lu of L. Perkins Agency!

Click here to learn more about Sandy and the L. Perkins Agency.

Sandy is AMAZING. I absolutely cannot wait to see where this partnership takes us. GILDED FEVER is in her hands, I know that they are good hands to be in! It's an exciting time, and SO well worth the wait!

And to you brave souls still trudging through the query trenches, KEEP TRUDGING. Eventually you'll find a hand that will pull you out, and you'll know then that every tear and perpetual pterodactyl scream of fury had all been worth it.

Keep trudging, and keep writing!