how i got my agent: part one

Three months ago today, I signed with the ever-fabulous Tina Wexler. It seems like we’ve been working together much longer than that, and yet every day I still get the feeling that I won The Agent Lottery. I’ve never publicly documented my publication journey, but it is long. I essentially queried for four very long years before I signed with Tina in August, so I’m splitting this post into two parts.

2006: I decide to buckle down with this I Want to Be Published thing. I enroll in a 6-week writing course for motivation (the only other writing class I’d taken besides the last semester of my senior year in college, so I was NERVOUS to say the least) and decide to participate in NaNoWriMo. Also for motivation, but mostly to prove to myself that I could finish a book. (I’m a fast writer – naturally the next step is to attempt a novel in 30 days.) Oh, and this book? It’s an adult book because I hadn’t read YA since I was a teen myself and had no idea it was a THING.

2007: Revise NaNoWriMo book. Spend crazy amounts of time researching agent blogs, author blogs, writing forums, and query tips – basically everything I could find since I knew nothing about what happens in the publishing process after you write the book. I didn’t even know any other writers or published authors at the time. I find there is a whole undiscovered world of YA fiction out there and decide to change my manuscript to YA. This turns out to be much easier than I anticipated, as it would explain the countless hours I’d spent fawning over My So-Called Life, Felicity, Dawson’s Creek, Daria, [insert name of virtually any teen show with high levels of angst and an emo soundtrack to boot] etc. Send revised manuscript to friends to critique. Revise again and send out way too early*. Move to Chicago from LA shortly after starting the query process. Receive lots of requests but realize too late that manuscript isn’t ready.

*I queried Tina with this novel! Rejection upon query and am I ever glad for it. You’re never seeing that book, Tina. For reals.

2008: Receive an offer from last agent queried. Joy ensues, as do irrational dreams of being published by my 30th birthday, which was just a year away. Start working on other YA projects, as I am HOOKED at this point.

2009: Six months after signing with first agent, we decide to part ways due to incompatibility. I am sad but overall relieved. Gut feelings? Listen to ’em. I sent out around 10 queries for the second novel I’d completed at that point, but I knew it wasn’t high-concept enough and although I had a request or two, none resulted in an offer. I keep writing and begin a book about abduction I’d been wanting to write for years but wasn’t sure how to start.

2010: After multiple false starts, I am almost finished with the first draft of abduction book and feeling good about it. And then I see a blog feature about a debut book that shares almost THE EXACT SAME PLOT as mine. I know this happens all the time, that no idea is new, but I am devastated. I love this book so much and feel like it could be The One for me. I threaten to quit writing (not true). Then I threaten to quit working on this book forever (also not true). I send out pathetic, defeated emails, absorb kind words from multiple friends, and decide to work on something new, which I start on Memorial Day weekend. I finish the first draft of Manuscript 3 on Labor Day weekend. Revisions, critiques, and more revisions occur. This book feels different – I can’t put my finger on it, but I know something significant in my writing has changed.

I will post part two tomorrow so stay tuned for more angst – er, details. And a [SPOILER ALERT] happy conclusion to the saga!

5 thoughts on “how i got my agent: part one

  1. Hooray for agent-finding stories! I know what you mean about the book feeling different–I was trying to find words to describe that same feeling in my own post today. Somehow, you just know this book is working out in a way that others haven’t.

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