…except when it doesn’t!
(Cross-posted from the Manuscript Mavens blog)
This past week has been quite the whirlwind for me as my writing career has taken a giant leap forward in the span, literally, of days. I’m still pinching myself, not quite able to believe I didn’t accidentally wake up in someone else’s life.
So, to tell the story from “the beginning” (and no, I don’t mean the “I was born in a small town…” sort of beginning), in early February, I sent queries to a couple of agents and John Scognamiglio, Editor-in-Chief at Kensington Books, pitching Wickedly Ever After. Within hours, I had a response back from one agent requesting a partial and one from John, requesting that I send the full.
I printed the manuscript and gave it to my husband to mail out from his office the very next day. I figured it would be easier for him to use his company’s meter to figure and print the postage than for me to go to the post office. I later discovered that, though he did eventually send it out, he let it sit on his desk for at least ten days before he actually bothered to post it. Remarkably, he is still alive :).
At the end of February, I received an email from John, asking whether the two related novellas I mentioned in my query letter were completed or, if not, available in outline form. I shot back with outlines the following Monday afternoon and posted a rather excited comment on my blog that I might have some big news soon.
And then I waited. And waited. And waited. THIRTY WHOLE DAYS!
Yeah, I know you’re laughing. But seriously, that first nibble of interest, which came so quickly–and seemed even quicker once I knew that rather than having had the manuscript for a couple of weeks, John had had it only a few days–had me hoping I’d hear something, one way or the other, within a very short period of time. And it was short, as it turned out. It just didn’t seem that way at the time! (Does it ever?)
“The call” came last Wednesday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. Now, for those who don’t know, I live on the left coast, which means the last call I was expecting to get at that time was one from an editor in New York City. My son answered the phone and hollered for me, and I made my way down to take it (in my bathrobe) expecting it was someone from my office or a client. When the person at the other end announced, “This is John Scognamiglio at Kensington Books,” well, I think you can pretty well imagine my reaction. My heart nearly jumped out of my chest because I knew, even before he said another word, that I was about to get an offer of publication.
John rattled off the details of the offer, but I have to admit that I barely heard them. All I could think of was that I had an offer from a major New York publisher for a single author anthology. That my dreams were coming true. Words really cannot adequately describe how amazing and surreal that moment was.
When John finished telling me the details of the offer, I was still coherent enough to explain that I was searching for an agent and that I’d be in touch with him once I’d selected someone to represent me. I had the manuscript with one agent already, and I let her know I had an offer right away. She said she’d read it over the weekend. In the meanwhile, I contacted four other agents who were on my A-list and received four additional requests for the manuscript.
And then things REALLY got interesting. By Friday afternoon, I had two offers of representation. By Monday evening, I had five. I was floored. And it was a tremendously difficult decision, because I felt a real rapport with every one of them. At no time did I feel that any of them was in it “just for this deal.” All of them seemed genuinely interested in helping me build my career and representing me for the long haul. Their faith and belief in me and my work blew me away.
In the end, I chose Kevan Lyon at the Dijkstra Agency (they don’t have a website, so I can’t link you up, but I’m told they’re working on getting one) as my agent. She’s been a literary agent for a relatively short period of time, but has been in the publishing industry in one way or another for something like twenty years. And the agency itself has an amazing reputation, with a client list that includes Amy Tan, Lisa See, and Chalmers Johnson, to name a few. I know I’m in good hands.
Even though I’m incredibly pleased with my choice, it was tough to write those rejection letters to the other agents. I honestly don’t believe I could have gone wrong, whoever I chose. (And I tip my cap to all those agents and editors who have to write rejection letters on a daily basis. It is no easy task, and I look at my rejection letters with a whole new eye now that I’ve written a few myself!)
This post has already gone on quite long enough, so I’ll close by saying how much I appreciate the friendship, support, and encouragement of all the friends I’ve made in these past few years of writing, but most especially Maven Lacey. We’ve told the story of how the Mavens got together, but Lacey was the first person who really worked with me and convinced me I could do this writing thing. Without her, I’d never have kept going, never have met the other Mavens, never have stepped fully onto the path that led me here. There have been lots of other people along the way who’ve made a difference, and I plan to publicly thank each and every one of them over the course of the next few weeks.
But in the meantime, Lacey, this one’s for you! Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You’ll always be a rockstar in my world.