Yesterday, aspiring author Becky Wallace filled us in on her revision process and query stats. Today she's sharing about snagging her agent. She's willing to give away one, 10 page critique. To join in on the random drawing, please do three things: be a follower of this blog and post a link to this post either on Twitter or your own blog. Then in the comments, include your name, genre, title and email.
What made you choose to query Jennifer Laughran?
I did a lot of research about agents. I read blogs, comments, interviews, stalked client lists, and finally bought a Publisher’s Marketplace subscription. If you’ve read Jenn’s blog (literaticat.blogspot.com), you’ll notice her truly awesome/hysterically funny personality. Then you’ll look at her sidebar and realize how incredible her clients are. I was flattered that she would even consider me.
And if we’re being completely honest (and that’s the sort of girl I am) her sales record was freaking phenomenal for my genre. Jenn is agent-rockstar-extraordinaire and she was excited about my book! How could I not pick her?
Tell us about The Call.
Imagine sprinting through the Everglades at noon. It’s humid, the air is close, trees with twisted limbs and draped with moss snag your hair, and you’re pretty sure an alligator is stalking you. But you keep running because something totally life-changing is waiting for you in the next clearing. Yeah…that’s how I felt when Jenn called. Sweat literally dripped off my body (I know…eww). I was pumped full of adrenalin and terrified at the same time. What if she doesn’t like me? What if I say something stupid? What if I can’t think of any questions to ask? What if I can’t remember what my book is about?
I was shaky and stupid throughout the entire conversation. Even though I had a list of questions, I could barely read what I’d written. The words, “I’m-on-the-phone-with-an-agent-and-she-wants-to-represent-my-book-Is-this-for-real?” kept cycling through my head.
Honestly, it’s a good thing I didn’t go into cardiac arrest. I hope I sounded a little bit professional. A little. Maybe.
Ooh, I totally get sweaty when I’m nervous, too. I’m not a fan of sticky so the Everglades image made me wince. I’m guessing the elation set in after the phone call…
And now what? Are you on submission yet? If so, how many versions of your MS did you write? And how long did that take?
Yes, I’m on submission now. I think it’s been ten whole days. And it’s every bit as awful as querying. Maybe worse. I’m trying not to get my hopes up.
See the thing that no one tells you that even if you have an agent (even an agent-rockstar-extraordinaire) your book may still not sell. An author I totally love and respect has had five excellent books on sub and none of them ever got picked up. She’s had an agent for four years and just sold her first novel. That’s my new biggest fear (well…that and my completely unreasonable fear of the ocean because sharks live there).
So after my six initial drafts, I rewrote SIC following Jenn’s notes. It was the hardest revision because it was the most severe. I removed four characters (one that was practically my true character love), added one new character, changed the villain completely, and rewrote the ending.
I was on a pretty tight deadline to get it done—not one Jenn gave me. When I got her revision notes, I was seventeen days from my due date with my third baby. I wanted my book finished and sent to her before Critter No. 3 joined us. And somehow I managed to get it done.
Nothing like an impending baby to get your groove on. Smart woman to push thru…haha, a little pun there…*snort*
Most important thing ever to share with the agentless-but-hopefuls?
Can I give more than one important thing? Please? Okay, good.
1. Find a good critique partner. This person needs to be completely honest with you—someone who is liberal with criticism and light on praise. Someone who will poke holes in your plot, tell you when your characters are blah, and when your imagery fails to do its job. This person will become one of your best friends and assets. You may not like your crit partners all the time, but you will love them for the ways they make you better.
2. Put on some armor. This is a tough industry and it’s so, so easy to give up when someone tells you that your work sucks. And it will happen. Don’t quit. Toughen up.
3. Realize that everyone is better than you at something. Every time I read Cassandre Clare, John Greene, Kiersten White, or any of a dozen other authors, I think, “Holy crap. I suck so bad. Why can’t I produce those images or make my readers laugh or have such an awesome voice.” But you have something—you can do something that other writers can’t. Find that something and WORK IT. Then work on your weak areas.
4. Go with your gut. Although other people’s opinions are important, sometimes you just have to stick with your instincts. I don’t even want to think about the hours I poured into writing and rewriting my query letter when the original letter would have done the job. The same thing goes for your story. At the end of the day it’s your work. You need to be able to live with your final product. If you aren’t proud of it, you won’t stick with it. And you need a story you’re going to stick to.
I especially like this last one. You are a class act, Becky, and may The Book Deal be soon!
So post away, ducklings mine, and perhaps you’ll be the next of Becky’s critters to snag an agent.