So as I said in a previous post, I have some news to share... this post will primarily focus on the recent BIG news, but there will be a follow-up post to explain everything else that's happened during this crazy year called 2012.
I attempted to find an image that accurately expresses my excitement over this news, but then got very distracted when a google image search for "happy" produced this little guy:
is Happy, so not exactly the happy
I'd been searching for, but hey, for all I know, this
this guy's happy face. He appears to be eating something, so odds are good that = happy. Anyway, I dig him, so he shall be my expression of happiness for this post!
But enough of that, onto the big news (and sorry if this ends up being REALLY long):
Like most blogs of aspiring authors, posts about big news usually mean one thing--THE CALL.
And I'm happy to say, I got THE CALL!!!!!! (<- six exclamation marks! <-plus a bonus) Well, the first THE CALL in a potential series of exciting THE CALLs. But the other THE CALLs can't happen without this initial, very important, very exciting THE CALL!
My little YA novel and I are now represented by the stupendous and lovely Marlene Stringer of the
. I'm officially an agented author! Wait, let me say that again--I'M AN AGENTED AUTHOR!
That is the most surreal and wonderful sentence an aspiring author can utter. And I'm not just saying it for pretendsies in my head. It's real and true and something I get to say to real people without them wondering why I'm not also wearing a tinfoil hat because I'm clearly delusional.
Like this. Cause it's fancy.
I've read many a blog post about authors getting THE CALL in the past. I think all aspiring authors do. They're addictive--proof that it's not always all about rejection (though there's a lot of that too). Posts about THE CALL are inspirational. At least, that's how I've always tried to see them. I think it's easy to read stories of others' successes and feel jealous, but I'm a firm believer that jealously only makes you feel worse and does NOTHING to the person you're jealous of and seriously, the only person you should ever compete with is yourself. Competing with other people, especially in an industry with SOOO many authors/books, is just a big fat waste of time. Feeling inspired on the other hand, that will get you somewhere. That's an emotion you can work with. It can drive you to work harder and block out thoughts of giving up. So I hope if you're reading this, you feel inspired. Because you should be. Mere weeks ago, I was just like you, chasing a dream and doubting myself and thinking my chance would never come. Until it did.
I started writing my first real novel back in 2005. I'd just graduated from university and I was determined to write something longer than 5000 words. That one didn't make it very far. As in, I didn't even finish it. Then working, life, adulthood (which I'm still mostly in denial about) took over and though I dabbled with a few more ideas, nothing ever really flowed.
In 2008, I landed my current job in publishing. It involves a lot of reading. And you know what reading makes me want to do? Write. Nothing makes me want to write more than reading something amazing. Reading does for your creative mind what exercise does for your body. All that reading got me thinking about writing again and a few ideas started to bounce around in my head. One stuck and by the end of the year, I had finished my first young adult novel. I started querying it in 2009 and received a slew of full and partial requests from agents, but they all ended the same way--close but no cigar. While querying that book, I started to work on another book because I knew the best way to move forward was to keep writing.
Work only got busier. Life only got busier. I got married, bought a house, had a baby. But by July of this year, I'd finally finished, revised and polished young adult novel #2 aka
. I queried in waves, starting with the agents who'd requested fulls, then partials of my first book, especially the ones who'd specifically asked me to keep them in mind for future projects. I reminded them of who I was and then kept my fingers crossed that this new book would hit the mark. The requests started rolling in (all fulls to boot, which is probably more an indicator of e-reader use than anything) and I started to feel like this time around would be different. I knew this book was so much stronger than my first one and I was pretty happy with it (despite suffering those moments all writers suffer where we're convinced everything we've written is complete crap). But then the rejections started rolling in too. Rejections on full requests stung the most, especially from some of my top choices. It was a lot of praise followed by "not quite what I'm looking for right now". I started to curse myself for querying in the summer, knowing that it's conference season and everybody's busy and their minds are elsewhere, on beaches, on vacation. I was so proud of book #2 and here I thought I'd completely screwed it over by querying at a bad time of year.
Well, it is true that July is a bad time of year to query. Avoid it if you can, but somehow, I was lucky enough to still make an impression. On August 8th, I was putting my eight-month-old daughter down for a nap when I noticed a missed call from Florida. It struck me as strange because a) nobody calls me and b) up here in Canada, I don't get a lot of calls from the US. Then I remembered that one of the agents who had my manuscript had palm trees on her website. Was it possible she was located in Florida? Why hadn't I retained that piece of information in all the research I'd done on my top picks?? I was freaking out a little bit. Another minute later, my email dinged and sure enough, it was her, emailing to say she'd like to discuss working together. I think I read the email 18 times and shook my hands uncontrollably to make sure they were still attached to my body before replying to say that now was a good time to call back. And then she did. And we talked about
and it was wonderful. I could tell she really got it. She was pointing out things she'd noticed (and loved) in my book that I'd always hoped were apparent, but had never been sure. She got it. She loved it. And after a good talk, she offered representation.
When I got off the phone, I did my version of a quiet happy dance (Baby E was still sleeping) and Oliver, one of my two cats, came into the room and barfed on the carpet. I think he was just excited too. Or he hates me. But I think the first thing is more likely. You can't blame a cat for having an inappropriate reaction to something :)
And then I called my husband and searched the house for celebratory chocolate. Turned out I'd eaten the last bit after my last rejection. Actually, it turned out I really needed to go grocery shopping. All I could find for lunch that day were some hotdogs so I ate one of those, which in a weird way was kind of fitting because hotdogs are my go-to funny food. They deserved a spot in my celebratory day.
The week that followed was full of the necessary follow-ups, more requests, and a lot of inbox-watching (even more than when I was merely querying), all ending in my decision to accept Marlene's offer. More celebration and wine drinking ensued.
And to think my little novel could grow up to be a real book one day!
A few more things before I wrap this up--
I believe when something good happens to you, you shouldn't take it for granted. And when the world sends something wonderful your way, you should find a way to say thank you. My way of saying thank you is by giving to charity. So as a symbol of how grateful I feel, I'm making donations to the following charities. If you're feeling particularly thankful about something, big or small, I suggest you do the same, to a charity you feel strongly about.
And a bit of advice to aspiring authors--if you're getting requests from agents, keep going, even if it means writing another book and another after that. It means you're close to something. I can't think of anything in life that gets worse with practice so keep writing books. Each will be better than the last. The only way you will definitely never be published is if you give up.
And finally, for those who like stats, here are some of mine:
- I started querying on June 25th and received THE CALL on August 8th
- In total, I sent out 76 queries, in increasing waves
- I received 32 rejections and 10 requests for the full ms
- 34 agents either replied with congratulations or did not respond at all