Celebrating Song of the Day: “I Celebrate the Day” by Relient K
WOW–after two years of querying/revising/editing TWO manuscripts, I can FINALLY report that yes, the title of this post is correct. I HAVE AN AGENT!!! Over a year ago, Pam gave you this post on how she got her agent (the awesome Sarah LaPolla of Curtis Brown LTD), so I figured I’d do the same. If you’d like to hear my story…here it go!
I started writing at a young age. I gave you all a sneak peak of my first completed novel (that I wrote at age 15), but then I got practical. I realized if I wanted to make lots of money, I needed to finish high school and go to college. So, I did…and then I got my degree and became a teacher. Yep, I thought I’d be rolling in the dough from that career. As my fellow educators know, no such luck. Anyway, I digress. Back to my writing journey. Me and Pam got serious about our childhood love of writing and applied for MFA programs. As Pam recounted on her post, we got in and she was told from a literary agent that she has a knack for teen voices…so why not write young adult? She told me and was like, “hey, you usually write in teen voices, too.” And from there we began our foray into the wonderful (and I mean, WONDERFUL) world of young adult. Then my first novel was born…
December of 2009: I finished writing a novel based on a screenplay that me and Pam wrote together. Said novel was not my best friend. I kept trying to stick to the screenplay. HOWEVER, I did get a full request from a literary agency with this novel. But, lit agency NEVER responded…
Jan/Feb. 2010: While waiting for news about other manuscript, I began to come up with ideas for a new novel. All I had was these few sentences: Syl Huston is a 15 year old living in Philadelphia in 1918. The year that the Great Influenza has hit the United States. His older brother 18 year old Ricky Huston has enlisted in the United States Army and is sent to fight in Germany- he sends home letters that open up each chapter.
Begins in September 1918- Syl is in school and is called to the principal’s office. There he learns that his aunt, who lives with him has just been taken to the hospital and is in severe condition.
April 2010: Finished my first draft of In Limbo (title was switched to Hysteria briefly). This draft consisted of just Syl–who gets sick and spends the second half of the novel in his bedroom while people visit him. In one word: LAME. Thanks to my alpha/beta reader, Pam, this was quickly changed.
August 2010: Finished second draft–still a little lame, but I felt it was ready to query. WRONG–nothing but rejections. I got a few partial requests, but NO fulls. Pam read again and suggested that I make the love interest black–something to change things up.
New draft! And this time my love interest, SJ, is BLACK. And she and Syl have a goal. I also have another beta reader, Ann
, read this draft. She loves it, but gives a few suggestions. I take them.
December 2010: Another new draft–this time Syl has religious issues (don’t ask where THAT came from…). I query again. I also began the first draft of my contemporary–convinced that agents do not sign debut authors with historical novels.
January 2011: I get my FIRST full request!!! And it’s from an agent who LOVES historical- woo hoo! Alas, she passes…
February 2011: I whine, whine, whine about not getting an agent. I do some work on the contemp and query that. I get a couple requests for the contemp and shelve In Limbo while my betas read and let me know WHY it continues to suck.
June 2011: Me and Pam attend our regional SCBWI Novel Retreat. There we get a moment of clarity–why not make In Limbo a dual POV novel??? That might up the tensions, the stakes etc. Pam also suggests that I have one of the couple really not like the other–after all they are interracial and it is the early 20th century. Sooo…I work hard on both of those ideas and send it off to my betas again.
July-September 2011: Feedback from betas and hardwork to get the manuscript JUST RIGHT.
Late September/Early October 2011:
I re-query those agents who had slight interest in In Limbo
, and I go to QueryTracker.net
(QueryTracker, I HEART you) and search for all agents interested in historical YA novels. There’s quite a few…so I weed through them and find the ones who seem like they really, truly love historicals. That’s when I see the name…Jennie Goloboy
of Red Sofa Literary Agency
. Not only does she WRITE historical novels herself, she also has a freakin’ PhD in American Civilization from Harvard!! I queried her on September 27th, 2011–she answered a short six days later. She said she is intrigued and wanted to read the first three chapters. YES!
October 2011: I continued to query my contemp. and had a full & partial out for that, too. But Jennie got back to me on October 10th, saying she enjoyed it and wanted to read the full. OMIGOD!
Then on the 18th, Jennie wrote back and said she loved the manuscript overall, but had a few things she wanted me to look at and change. I agreed–so I worked on the revisions right away.
November 2011: On November 20th, 2011 I sent back the revised version of In Limbo. On the 30th, Jennie wrote back and said she really enjoyed the revise and resubmit…then asked if there was a time we could talk!!!
December 2011: WE TALKED! She offered–I wanted to accept right away. Jennie LOVES my novel, she loves history–what more can I ask for? But I had other material out. I had to give those agents a chance to read and decide if they loved my work enough. After all was said and done…I signed with Jennie on December 20th, 2011!
AND NOW? NOW I have an agent!!!
That was A LOT…and I don’t blame you if you skipped some parts. I can get a lil’ long winded sometimes. Sorry 😦 Anyway, I hope reading about my “journey” gives you all some insight into the work that it takes. In Limbo didn’t get agented until I wrote 10 (YES, TEN–granted some of the drafts had small changes, but still) various drafts of it. It takes work, people…lots of it.
Thanks for reading 😀