Okay, so I am going to be very uncool and unprofessional and shriek a lot. And faint. And jump around.
*wakes and jumps around some more*
*returns to chair*
Right, sorry. Where was I?
I HAVE AN AGENT! I think it warrants hitting caps lock. I also think it warrants, nay, demands, a bottle of whatever your favourite beverage is, some Malteser-filled cupcakes, and balloons. Why not? You're never too old for balloons. Especially not WHEN YOU HAVE AN AGENT.
I'll stop. I'm sorry. I'm just excited. I announced it on Twitter last night, but the thrill's not quite gone away.
So how did this happen?
Warning: long(ish) story ahead.
Well, most of you know I've been querying and sending out ECHOES since about March. I was happy with it at the time, and thought it was ready, but as you might have also noticed, I kept tweaking and working on it. Guess I wasn't so happy with it after all. Anyway, towards the end of April, an agent named Holly Root read my query and first ten pages and requested a partial (50 pages). She read those and requested the full.
Fast forward to roughly four weeks ago. I had a couple of other requests in this time, several query and partial rejections, and was generally swamped with Real Life stuff too. Then four weeks ago Holly got back to me to say she was going to pass on ECHOES.
I was disappointed, as I always am when I get a rejection (I'm only human!) but she wrote me such a lovely email. She said she thought I had something there, but it just wasn't quite right for her. She referred me to her friend and fellow agent Melissa Sarver.
This would be the referral I mentioned a while ago.
So me being the busy little bee I am, rattled off my query to Melissa straight away, letting her know Holly referred me. Twelve minutes later, she replied to request the manuscript. I had to do some quick formatting on the ms, so it was seventeen minutes after that that I sent it off to her.
And then I forgot all about it.
Okay, that's a lie. I sort of put it halfway out of my head because, as I've noticed, if I compulsively think about and worry about queries and submissions, I end up fretting a lot. It's much more sensible (and kinder to your sanity) to just try and put these things out of your head. And, you know, not check your email every ten minutes. I managed to reduce my email-checking to once per hour. Given I spend most of my time during at the day at this laptop, that isn't an awful lot of checking.
Well, much to my amazement, Melissa emailed me back six days later. I saw her name pop up in my inbox and thought 'oh, sweet Heathcliff, she hated it and couldn't finish it! It's a rejection!’
Nope, turns out she's a really fast reader. Melissa said she wanted to talk to me about the manuscript. I panicked. I forgot to eat my dinner, ran around the room, and Steve sat patiently by and soothed me long enough to remind me that I needed to reply to her email. So I did, and she rang me the next day (this was three Wednesdays ago). We talked about the book. Like, for forty-five minutes. I expected to be stammer-y and scared, but weirdly enough, the moment I answered the phone and she said hello, my nerves just went away.
The conversation amounted to this: Melissa thought I had a great concept and a great book, but it needed work. She made suggestions. We talked about them. I explained why a certain suggestion might not work, but overall found that she made a lot of sense. She really, really hit the hail on the nead.
(See how excited I am? I am losing the power of words!)
So I went away and worked on those revisions. Like crazy. I had to pop into my job at the care home a couple of times, because although I wasn't due to officially start yet, there was paperwork to fill out. But I had plenty of time to write, which was awesome. I sent the revisions back to her last week, and she got back to me this past Monday to - get this - offer me representation. She also made a couple more suggestions for edits.
I've just sent the revised manuscript back again. And yesterday, I signed with Melissa Sarver of the Elizabeth Kaplan Literary Agency.
Once the manuscript is ready, Melissa plans to send it out to editors. She even asked me to write a short author bio a couple days ago. Needless to say, it sucked. I do way, way better at writing fiction.
Some reactions from friends and family-
STEVE: See? I told you you were amazing.
And my mother, who wins the prize-
MUM: Oh my God! Hooray! You know this is because I lit a candle to St Jude, right?
ME (bewildered because my mother is the most sensible person I know and does not usually light candles for many reasons): Why St. Jude?
MUM: You know. The patron saint of lost causes.
She has a funny sense of humour, my mother. Unless, of course, she was being serious, in which case I probably should be offended.
And that's the tale of How I Got My Agent. It's early days yet, but Melissa (whom I will henceforth refer to on this blog as 'Agent Melissa' because it makes her sound like a mysterious and deadly super-spy) is awesome and I'm really looking forward to working with her.