I don’t even know how to start this because it hasn’t fully sunk in yet.
I have an agent!
Seriously, that last sentence just blew my mind. I’m having a hard time typing this between me squealing and clapping and covering my mouth in disbelief (and I’m so glad nobody can actually see that, because it’d probably be pretty embarrassing). But yes…yesterday I signed with Brandi Bowles of Foundry Literary + Media, and today, I’m finally writing one of the posts I’d always hoped I’d get a chance to write.
If any of this sounds like it came out of nowhere, it’s because it feels that way for me, too (even though it didn’t feel that way when I first started). And also because this blog is fairly new. And also because I never blogged about how I was querying agents (because I’m weird like that and I think I might jinx things by announcing them before they happen). The closest I came to telling people about this whole process was several weeks ago, when I just couldn’t hold it in anymore and Tweeted that I had some slightly good news that might become great news but I couldn’t share it and…ahhhh!!!!! (More on that Tweet later.)
I know…so cryptic, right?
Okay, deep breath. Fair warning: I may abuse exclamation points and smiley faces, but I’ll do my best not to.
I first met Brandi at the Agents Conference held by the Writers’ League of Texas here in Austin in June. If you’re wondering why it’s called an agents conference and not a writers conference, it’s because there are a boatload of agents there (literally–we actually went on a boat with some of them to watch the bats fly out from under Congress Bridge at sunset). The whole point of the conference is that you get to pitch your book to agents verbally. You also get a 10-minute one-on-one consultation with the agent of your choice. Brandi was my first choice (they ask you to list your top five, and do your best to match you up) so you can understand my disbelief in the fact that she’s actually my agent now! (omgomgomg!)
Ahh! Okay…moving on
At the time I went to the conference in June my book was maybe 3,000 words away from being done. I had a feeling that would be my final draft, but I also knew I wanted to polish it and have my writer’s group read it before I started querying agents. So even though I was pitching agents at the conference, I knew it’d be several months before I sent it to them. I wondered if that worked against me. If they requested pages, shouldn’t I send them while they’re interested? But if I sent them too soon, wouldn’t that make them uninterested?
I decided to wait until my book was as ready as I could possibly make it. Including Brandi, about four or five agents requested pages at the conference, and they were the first I got in touch with when I started querying several months later. A couple got back to me quickly and said they weren’t interested. I started querying agents I hadn’t necessarily met, but had researched, and got a couple of requests for a partial and then a full. We all know how this part of the process goes…lots of excitement (remember that Tweet I mentioned?) followed by lots of let downs. I remember just the week before I received an offer of representation I was in tears over my first rejection on a full, never knowing how drastically things would change in seven days.
That’s when I got the call. I was writing one of my posts for this blog when the phone rang, and it must’ve been the only moment in the past four months when I wasn’t thinking in the back of my mind, “will this be it?” You know how people say you only find The One when you least expect it? That’s how it was with this call.
On the other end of the line was another amazing agent who I had always hoped I’d get the chance to work with ever since we met at the conference in June. I did my fair share of squealing and giggling awkwardly and jumping while we discussed my book, and then I decided I’d make a decision within a week, giving me a chance to follow up with other agents.
So I emailed Brandi and a few others, and she got back to me right away saying she’d take a look at my submission. Two days later, she emailed me to request the full. Four days after that, the night before I’d said I’d make decision, I got an email from Brandi asking if I had time to talk on the phone that evening.
And dude (if you know me in real life, you’ll realize I use that word when I’m seriously excited)…we spoke for an hour. It was the equivalent of that late-night heart-to-heart you have as a teenager with the boy you’ve been crushing on for months, except this was the bookworm version of that. Her vision for my book and her suggestions could not have been more spot on. I hung up the phone elated. I barely slept that night. I woke up at 3:30 unable to keep my mind from replaying our conversation. And I thought a lot about what choice to make.
Before this happened to me, I used to read blogs and Tweets saying how choosing an agent is like choosing a relationship, and in the back of my mind I’d think, “Yeah right, I’ll take whatever I can get.” And in the end both of my choices were far better than “whatever I can get.” They were both amazing and talented and super nice and any writer would be incredibly lucky to work with them.
But it’s true what they say: sometimes you just have to go with your gut. It’s not that one person is better than another…it’s about finding the right fit for you. You have to go into it knowing what you want out of that relationship, because if you don’t know that, you won’t be able to tell who’s right for you.
So that’s how this all played out. That’s why I’ve hardly been able to focus on anything else these past 36 hours. That’s why I’ll occasionally make a whale-ish squeal and clap my hands like a five-year-old.
For the past few years, I’ve had a little sticky note on my desk that reads: “No one ever said this was going to be easy…” And it really wasn’t. It was four years between the first draft and this moment, and who knows how much longer it’ll be before I get to write the other post I’ve always hoped to write (the book deal!). And so occasionally between my bursts of celebration I’ll get nervous and think…oh crap, there’s still all this way to go. Then I’ll squeal and clap again and think: But I have an agent!!!