Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Warning: My big announcement has gone emotional in this post

Source: www.smartcitymemphis.com

If you haven't seen on Twitter or Facebook yet, my middle grade novel has landed me an awesome literary agent. On March 18th, (my sister's birthday, love ya!) I signed a contract with Jessica Schmeidler of Golden Wheat Literary. I'm not entirely sure it has sunk in yet, but the way there was pretty spectacular.

I started a blog series on rewriting the first sentence, scene, or chapter last week, and this week my post (going live here in a few minutes) has the rewrite for you. I had a line in there that said "I'll let you know if the full requests I received garners any agent contracts. Well, I just got to rewrite that line and it feels great.

Jessica is a newer agent with editor background. She opened Golden Wheat Literary back in the Fall of 2014. I'd had minor interactions with her on twitter, and I knew her name from her previous work and some online events and contests she runs. On Valentine's Day evening, I was cruising the #MSWL feed and saw an older one of hers: a faith-based story with a strong male protagonist and horses. My MS fit this description well, so I tweeted to her and asked if that was still something she'd be interested in. She swiftly replied in the affirmative, and told me this was an official request for my query and first three chapters. So I read through it one more time, made a tweak here and there, and sent it off. Less then an hour later, she wrote me back with this email:

"This is fantastic. As I was entering your information in to schedule a query review, I became rather absorbed in the query itself. Needless to say, that turned into reading the partial, and I would now like to see the completed manuscript."

Cue the longest two week wait of my life. And no, I did not stalk her or check my email every fifteen minutes.

and intensified....

and intensified...

and I wanted to throw something....

and I wrote some of another manuscript.....

and my email pinged on my phone on March 6th. She loved it! She absolutely loved it and can we talk next Wednesday? YES, YES WE CAN!!!

I researched a lot, even more then I had when I initially sent the query out. I checked out my favorite writerly blogs for advice on what to ask on the call and wrote down two pages of questions for her, and prayed a lot. I had reservations about how new she was as an agent or if she had any mentors or connections. I asked some CPs what they thought and got some great advice. I wasn't nervous, I knew it was the call, the one all writers dream about in some form.

The call was awesome. We hit it off right away, like old friends. We chatted about our families, she gushed over my book, I interrogated her with my questions. She threw out publisher names that were also on my list and had the same vision for it. She wanted to be my career agent and showed honest interest in my other WIPs. But I wavered, so I asked for another week to pray and think it over. (For more details about the call, keep an eye out for my post on Michelle Hauck's blog!)

Then I sent out "I have been offered representation" letters to the five remaining agents that had received my materials. Two of them passed on DOM, two didn't respond, and one asked for the full and said she'd respond in 10-12 days.

Seriously guys, the waiting. Agonizing. I continued to pray and think about Jessica, how well we hit it off versus this other agent who I didn't know very well but was from a major agency. My husband can attest to the conversations I had with myself and the random groans that escaped my mouth as I thought about it. If my story was good enough for one, the other might like it. If so, who would I chose? Is this a David and Goliath thing? The big agency has so many more parts of the publishing process figured out and a good reputation to back it up. But if I chose them, would that be selling out? Jessica was so genuine and warm, and she'd answered all my questions with flying colors. 

I drove myself crazy for no reason at all. On March 18th, the other agent got back to me with my one and only super encouraging and personalized pass. The deep breath I let out when I read it confirmed that Jessica had been the right choice all along.

I wanted to do something spectacular to celebrate. I told my mom that I wanted to hike a mountain and shout from the tippity top: I HAVE AN AGENT!!!! Instead, I announced it on twitter and facebook, snuggled my girls and read them a Nancy Tillman marathon before bed.

Thanks to everyone for the support! For all you writers reading this, DON'T GIVE UP!

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