I think I’ve already discussed at length why I chose to go the agency representation route with my writing career. One of the reasons I didn’t want to self-publish WTRPCPSU is that I would prefer to have the backing of a publisher’s marketing group to help me market my work, and, as such, I would prefer to have an agent help me navigate the still unfamiliar world of publishing.
Note my use of the word help. I’m fully aware that I will have my own role in all of this, too. What that role entails, of course, I’m still figuring out.
This may sound odd, but I think of my agent as my boss. I mean, I sort of interviewed for her representation, and she chose me to be part of her team of writers. My job, as I see it, is to produce quality stories for her to then turn around and sell. We will have dialogues about my work. I may pitch ideas that she knows the market is not buying, and she will advise me to shelve those concepts until either my ideas are more developed and/or there is a renewed interest in them. I will send her manuscripts that I’ve painstakingly edited and revised to the point that I think they’re perfect, and she will provide feedback (including what works, what doesn’t work, what needs to be fixed, and what needs to be scrapped). And it is my job to take her expert advice to heart and execute her directives to the best of my ability.
In short, I expect to have the same relationship with my agent that I have with my non-writing world boss.
I absolutely adore my non-writing world boss. She’s fabulous. (And as she doesn’t know this blog exists, I’m speaking truly from the heart.) We maintain a very open dialogue about the different projects I work on, and I let her know when someone comes to me with a request for something that requires total reprioritization, especially when it falls outside my normal scope of duties. She provides valuable feedback on how I can be a more effective analyst, on how to look at things from a different perspective, on how to take my skills to the next level.
But her most important role? She ensures that no one takes advantage of me.
That last point perfectly sums up not only why I would walk across hot coals for my non-writing world boss but also why I chose to pursue the path towards agency representation. And the fact that Julia is based in Europe and has contacts on both continents is why I anxiously pursued her (or would have, anyway, if I took the regular querying route).
I’m the type of person who needs someone to remind me to keep my own interests in the foreground. I know not everyone is like that, but I firmly believe that we all should have someone looking out for us.
I have a confession to make:
I’m addicted to
following stalking spying on agents on Twitter.
Let’s just call it what it is. I’m not really stalking any of them, as I no long have any intentions of submitting queries to them. After all, I do have a rather fabulous agent of my own, and I wouldn’t trade her for all the tea in China.
But still I enjoy reading their advice on what to do (and especially what not to do) when sending out query letters, and the agents I follow (a) all seem to know each other (which only shows how very small the world of publishing is), (b) share some pretty hilarious banter, and (c) seem like really amazing people. Plus, they are so much better read than I am, which is so awesome considering that I caused a coworker to look up the word “aplomb” in the dictionary the other day (that gives you insight into who I surround myself with on a daily basis).
So what is it about these agents that makes me so interested in what they do?
Aside from just general interest in the whole process, I’m still trying to figure that out.
Let me take a moment to make a quick PSA to every writer out there who might be reading my blog: Whether or not you are in the querying trenches, you should be on Twitter and following agents who rep your style of writing, editors who publish your style of writing, and fellow writers of all genres. You will learn a lot about what not to do, you’ll see contest announcements, and you’ll begin to develop an appreciation for what it is that agents do and the process in getting a book from manuscript to print. I, for one, am incredibly humbled and view my books in a whole new light.
Anyway, my agent tweeted something earlier this week that made me smile:
LOVE when a writer announces they’ve an agent & fellow writers (agented & unagented) are GENUINELY happy 4 them. Makes me all warm & fuzzy! — Julia A. Weber(@jawlitagent)
When I signed with Julia, my Twittersphere exploded with congratulatory messages from both agented and non-agented writers. I got messages from other agents, from editors, from about a hundred people I’d never met before. The number of people following my Twitterfeed tripled overnight and doubled again over the weekend. (In fairness, it was a very small number to begin with.) And everyone I encountered was so amazingly happy for me.
It was a glimpse into a part of the writing world that I never knew existed, but I am so thankful that it does.
So on to what prompted tonight’s post.
I checked my Twitterfeed while I was at The Boy’s school waiting for him to use the restroom before I drove us home. Every now and then, Sara Megibow will do something she calls #5pagesin5tweets. I enjoy this feature a lot, and not just because it gives great insight into what she thinks while she’s considering a submission. It’s because – and this is going to sound crazy – I’m rooting for the manuscript.
There. I said it.
I once read somewhere that agents open every querying email with hope. They aren’t looking to hate your work. They want to love it. They understand how much you’ve poured into the story you’re sending them. They know how much trepidation you feel just piecing together that query letter. They know how nervous you are before you send it and how anxious you are as you wait for a response. And they don’t want to reject your manuscript. So when Sara does her #5pagesin5tweets, I get kind of giddy and hopeful that she’ll find something she loves. And when I see tweets from other agents talking about manuscripts that they fell in love with, I’m so happy for them.
I realized it’s a lot like being madly in love: When you’re in love, you want the rest of the world to find love, too. When you’re glowing from pregnancy, you want all your girlfriends to be pregnant, too. When you’re raising a precious child and basking in all his accomplishment, you want the same for your friends, too.
It’s not that different. When you’ve successfully signed with an agent, you want every other writer to be signed to. And I have a feeling that once I sell my book and see it on the shelves, I’m going to want everyone else to hurry up and get their books onto shelves, too.
It’s a crazy euphoria that you get to feel all over again every time you see someone retweet the I-Have-An-Agent announcement or read the How-I-Got-The-Call blog post.
And it never gets old.
So, if you read my last entry, you’ve already seen the best seven words I’ve read in a really long time.
I’ve kept mum on some amazing things that transpired over the last week, mainly because I didn’t want to share something that I was still unsure about. But now that this story is complete, I can share it!
It began last Friday during a Twitter event. I wasn’t entirely certain that I (or my manuscript) was ready, but I took a chance and tweeted my pitch. I mean, the worst that could happen was that no one would respond to it, right?
But I got responses – and one of those came from an agent I had been
stalking studying following on Twitter. Her name appeared in one of Chuck Sambuchino’s agent posts, and when I first read about her, I immediately wanted to send her my manuscript and hear her tell me she loved it. But I didn’t. I read more of her interviews (of which there aren’t many) and guest blog posts (again, not many of those), and I followed her on Twitter while I dutifully honed my manuscript. And the more I read about her, the more I really wanted her to love my manuscript and represent me.
No pressure or anything, but I had decided she was my Dream Agent. (Oh, yes – the big D and big A are intentional.)
So Dream Agent was the third person who showed interest in my manuscript. (You’d better believe that I freaked out.) The fourth came from a new agent at a prestigious agency who (from what I could tell from the limited posts on his blog) is passionate about good literature and who I had already decided was my #3 agent choice, so I was super excited about seeing interest from him.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I made sure I sent out all the requested materials right away – and following each agency’s guidelines. I carefully read (and re-read – and sometimes re-read) guidelines before submitting just because I knew I wouldn’t get a second chance to get this right, especially with Dream Agent and #3 agent choice.
And then I waited.
Oh, that full manuscript request that came in Saturday morning? It was from a small romance imprint that reached out to me with an offer to acquire on Monday after the agent who wasn’t at the top of my List of Agents to Query rejected me. And the offer looked good. Really enticing, in fact. But Dream Agent hadn’t gotten back to me, and I hadn’t heard from #3, either, so I sent them both gentle nudges to say, “Hi, I hate to bother you, but I’m going to, anyway because this just happened.”
Dream Agent got back to me almost straightaway with a request for a full. I think I audibly squealed, ran down the hall to tell my coworker, then composed myself, calmly returned to my desk, and submitted my full manuscript. My hand was shaking when I hit send. She replied and promised to get back to me Friday. Meanwhile, #3 was silent, and I needed to acknowledge the publisher’s offer.
I reached out to the publisher and asked if I could call her late in the week. We set up a call for Thursday afternoon, and while I waited for Thursday to come, I kept checking my In Box hoping for a message from either Dream Agent or #3.
So I spoke to the publisher on Thursday. And I really like her. I made a mental list of pros and cons of the offer, and I decided that was my fall-back option, my “safety school,” if you will. I asked my cousin to (re)introduce me to colleagues who were familiar with intellectual property law in the event that I didn’t get accepted by my first choice (Dream Agent) or second choice (#3 – but that’s because I didn’t query the agent who would have been in the #2 slot). I made sure that I had everything properly set up so I would be in the position to accept an offer and sign a contract or agreement fairly quickly.
No matter what, I was poised to win. Either I would sign with an agent who would be my advocate and help me navigate through the crazy world of publishing or I would sign a contract with a small publisher so that I could get some published titles under my belt and use that as something that might later entice an agent to represent me.
Obviously, my preference was to have an agent.
Agent #3 emailed me last night apologizing for not responding sooner and requesting my full manuscript. As I promised the publisher a reply no later than Saturday morning, I sent him my manuscript and let him know my deadline.
Well, it wouldn’t hurt, right?
And then early this morning, I got The Offer from Dream Agent, and I bolted upright and accepted immediately even though she had even written a post saying that’s precisely what not to do. But she was kind and suggested we speak before she has to leave the country for about ten days, and we set up an appointment to speak via Skype.
The call lasted about 80 minutes. She knew my manuscript as well as I did. She loved my characters as much as I did. She suggested tweaks that no one had ever mentioned before. She called out areas that needed tightening and others that needed some expansion. She noticed that most of my extraneous characters’ names began with the letter C. Plus, when we talked about ideas I have for forthcoming manuscripts, she was enthusiastic and so eager to read my work. I felt the need to write the best possible manuscript just so she would (a) enjoy reading it and (b) have fun selling it.
It was incredible. It was exhilarating.
It was complete affirmation that she was DEFINITELY the right agent for me.
And so, it is with great enthusiasm and pride that I am ecstatic to announce that yours truly is now being represented by Julia A. Weber of J. A. Weber Literaturagentur GmbH.
Now, I’m certainly in no position to host big events like other authors have done to help their fellow writers find agents, but I do feel the need to pay it forward. When I think of it, I’ll share it.
In the meantime, I have another story to plot.