Monica, thanks for inviting me to share my agent success story. You guys were a huge help. Without The Writer’s Voice I’d probably just be starting another round of queries right now.
I’ve been scribbling starts of novels in notebooks since my teens, but I didn’t get serious about writing until two and a half years ago when my friend and I formed a critique group. Since we started, I completed a contemporary YA manuscript, co-wrote a middle grade mystery with my husband, revised my contemporary manuscript, had another baby, and started a new YA novel. Without my writing group, I doubt I would have finished my first draft of my first book.
Last year I queried my MG mystery to twenty agents and received thirteen rejections and seven no responses. I also queried JUST THIS ONCE to several small publishers, who all rejected it. My favorite rejection letter said that my writing was exceptional but that they felt that my story had no hook, was not unique, and that I should limit my MC’s internal musings and learn to write authentic dialogue.Ouch! I wonder what they say to authors when they don’t feel their writing is exceptional.
Last May I entered The Writer’s Voice. Monica was the last coach to announce her team,and when she chose me I couldn’t believe it. It was the first positive feedback I’d had about a query. Her coaching really improved my query and first page.
Near the end of agent voting, Kevan Lyon and Louise Fury nearly gave me heart failure by choosing my entry. I sent partials to both of them, and a full to a third agent who requested it. I got quick rejections from two agents and no response from Louise.
But at the end of December I got an alert that Louise Fury was now following me on Twitter. Um… why would an agent who’s had my manuscript since May follow me? It had to be nothing, right? But FIVE MINUTES LATER I got an email requesting the full manuscript. LOUISE FURY and her intern loved my voice and were excited to read more. Breathe. Must. Breathe.
I calmed down and sent it to her. And pretended to forget about it.
On New Year’s Day I got her next email. I was heading to bed, and Louise thought she’d make sure I didn’t sleep. Ever.Again.
She said her team had read my book and thought I was a “seriously talented writer.” (This phrase is burned forever into my brain, incidentally.) She wanted to talk on the phone the next day. It is amazing that I didn’t fall down and die.
The next day was one of the most surreal experiences of my life. It was like a fairy tale. I told myself to keep my expectations low for her call. I let myself fantasize about her offering representation.Our conversation was better than anything I could have dreamed up.
For every question I asked, Louise’s answer showed she was the perfect agent for me. The way she thinks about my manuscript and respects my vision for my story, while helping me to improve it with clear, incisive feedback is amazing to me. In the month we’ve been working together, we’ve done two full sets of revisions and she has already helped me so much. Now I’m immersed in my WIP, and my book is in her capable hands while we prepare for the next step—submission.
I have learned that for those of us pursuing the dream, we are closer than we know. The line between an agented writer and someone in the slush piles trying not to give up is a fine one. It’s a matter of finding the right person at the right time who can see what they are looking for in your work. Simple?Maybe not.But achievable. I know. One month ago I had never had any requests for fulls or partials from any of my queries. Today I have an amazing agent who is passionate about my manuscript.
As writers, we often downplay what we do as a frivolous hobby until someone else validates our work. I can’t tell you how many days I’ve worried I was wasting my time with something that would never benefit anyone but me. Don’t give up on your dreams. Just keep networking and querying and believing and WRITING! And don’t feel bad because no one is currently reading what you’ve written. If you write, you are a writer. You can do it! All the uncertainty and lack of control is worth it.
Heh… I’m telling you this as a writer who doesn’t have and may never have a book deal. I’m your friend, on my laptop just like you, frantically trying to help another MC out of this or that disaster. And hoping that someday someone besides my critique partners will know that she figured out the secrets of life and found love.
So in the meantime, does anyone have suggestions for names for my romantic hero’s new band? And what do you think would be a meaningful way for me to show mother-daughter bonding between my MC and her new foster mother? And… excuse me. I’ve got to go write.