On the last day of 2010, I wrote that I was taking a break from blogging until I could share a VIA (Very Important Announcement) for my first post of the new year. Well, today’s the day. Drum roll! Trumpets!
And for those of you who enjoy the rambling “how I got my agent” stories (I know I do!) here you go:
It all started with a letter. I had been sitting on this query to Michelle for a long time because Regal only accepts–gasp!–snail mail queries. Though F and I had been living in our new town for a good four months, I had not yet visited the post office. Also, I was afraid to print things at my brand-new job (I don’t think Williamstown has heard of Kinko’s).
After a few months of querying, I brushed off the letter, “somehow” managed to print it out, and made my first venture to the post office on Monday, December 6. So, while the letter to Michelle was one of the first queries I wrote, it was the last one I sent.
That same Wednesday, I received the most enthusiastic, most wonderful email I ever could have imagined getting from an agent. I’ll admit that I cried a little bit in my office chair.
Michelle requested the full manuscript and asked about my next project (Big Project 2, aka “BP2”). Luckily, I had been working on BP2 for months, so I was able to scrape twenty pages together to send along with THE HERO.
On Friday, Michelle wrote back to say that she had already finished the BP2 pages and was nearing the end of THE HERO. Then she wrote the words that every querying writer longs to see: “Will be in touch soon.”
ALL WEEKEND, I drove my poor F crazy with my obsessive email-checking. I couldn’t eat. Couldn’t sleep. I was crippled by a strange ache below my left shoulder blade, where my anxiety likes to build his nest.
I stared at my inbox all day on Monday. If I were in the habit of biting my nails, I wouldn’t have had any fingers left. When 5:00 rolled around, F and I headed to his office party where I actually forgot to think about my email for a whole two hours (a few glasses of wine helped with that). Even so, I checked my phone as soon as we got back to the car.
I had an email from Michelle! She had finished THE HERO and was interested in working together…but she was heading off for vacation the next day. Could we chat after the holidays?
I was ecstatic. I was relieved. I was terrified she’d change her mind.
Luckily, she liked the book just as much after Christmas. We talked on the phone that week—the evening of December 30, to be exact. We talked about our holidays, about where we grew up and where we live now, and then we got down to business and talked about the book.
She “got” THE HERO completely—and she had ideas about how to make it better. I loved the way she framed her editorial comments, asking first about the intended goal of a narrative decision, and then making suggestions for how best to achieve that goal. And then, at the end of our call, she offered representation. One day before New Year’s.
At that moment I realized I had accomplished everything I wanted to accomplish in 2010. I got a new job, moved back to New England, found my farmhouse in the middle of nowhere, finished my book, and found an fabulous agent.
The story doesn’t quite end there, however. I checked in with the other agents who had the manuscript and, amazingly, a few of them offered representation. The human brain has only so much capacity for excitement, and mine reached its limit. I don’t remember much about last week.
On Monday, I headed to NYC to meet with Michelle and the other wonderful agents. There’s quite a story in here, complete with a botched hotel room reservation, a winter coat disaster, and a chocolate crêpe, but the important thing is that I met Michelle in person on Monday and signed with her on Tuesday.
Believe me, I am not taking this moment for granted, and I feel incredibly lucky right now. It’s hard to write a book. But it’s harder, still, to send your book out there into the wilderness, hoping that someone will a) read it and b) like it. And then, most importantly of all, once an agent reads and likes your book, you have to be sure that she shares your vision for that book.
Of all the agents who requested the full manuscript, Michelle was the only one who read my blog, asked about my next project, and made that initial connection on a personal level. I knew right away that she was looking not just for a book to sell, but for a partnership. I can’t wait to dive back into THE HERO with her.
I AM SO EXCITED!