Editing Agents

I did a ton of research before querying agents and learned something interesting. There are, apparently, two types of agents: ones who offer editorial suggestions/revisions and ones who don’t. What I wanted most was for my MS to be good, so I decided to only query agents who mentioned that they would work with me to perfect my MS, and offer editorial suggestions prior to submission.

Let’s just say that it was the best decision I could ever make.

My agent is amazing. After agreeing to work with her, within a week she sent me a document that basically outlined a few areas I could beef up and/or improve. I loved reading her advice, and loved applying it to TNWSY. Because everything she suggested was spot on. They made my book so much better, deeper, more complex. It’s like she opened up my idea and fluffed it up a bit.

Now i’m onto line edits and while opening my track changed document was a bit jarring at first (what? so much is bad?) I saw quickly that her changes were all for the better, and, honestly, there weren’t that many big ones. (It’s like seeing the red pen on an essay. You just assume everything written is bad, and don’t look for the compliments buried within.) She had grammatical suggestions, places to emphasize, places to stretch out. And as I accepted the changes, I saw how it all worked really well. And how she’s totally right about nearly everything. And I know it’s not required to accept every suggestion, every edit an agent offers, but I actually love everything she’s done. Truly.

So! My advice is this – when looking for agents, decide which kind you want to work with. If you’d rather just go straight to submissions, that’s fine! But if you’d rather get down to the nitty gritty and uncover diamonds in the rough, perhaps go with an editing agent. I adore mine, and I hope you’ll like yours, too.

I Have An Agent, Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Querying

As announced yesterday, I have a literary agent. A real live literary agent. I can’t even explain how excited I am about this. But I can explain how it happened!

After deciding my book was edited to perfection, I started querying. As it turns out, writing a query letter is much harder than I had imagined. I can write a cover letter in a few minutes, but a query? Yeessh. I made a few mock ones, but hated them. I read all the books, went to all the websites, but still, it wasn’t happening. It didn’t feel like my book. Thankfully, I have a friend who’s a published romance author. She showed me her queries, and gave me the one piece of advice that truly stuck – write it in your writing voice. Make it sound like the book. Okay.

So after a few more takes, I was finally happy with my query. I liked it quite a bit, and thought it not only summed up my manuscript nicely, but read like something you’d find on the back of a book. So from there, I started researching agents that I liked, and that represented books similar to mine. I made a very large Excel spreadsheet with all of their information (Name, agency, query specifics…), and did a ton of research, finding out what each agent liked, what they looked for, and the best way to format the query to fit their interest. And then I started querying.

At first, since I was still new, I only sent out five letters. I expected a) rejections and b) long dry spells. The former came true first. Within about four days I received my first rejection. I was actually more excited about it than upset. Agents are actually reading my emails! MY EMAILS! The next day I received my second rejection. Every time I received one, I sent a new query out to another agent so I always had five out.

At this time, I entered the two Cupid contests, which were exciting and fun. I met a lot of other writers, and learned more about what agents were looking for. Both times I made it to the second round (Yay!) so I figured my query was at least decent. (In the second contest, I got a partial request, too!) I upped my queries to having 10 out. Exciting!

The night of Grammys was the first Big. Moment. During the red carpet I received my first full request. I’m pretty sure I cried with joy, and then ran around the apartment screaming. Incidentally, by the end of the Grammys I received my second full request. More screaming. A few days later I received a third full request while I was at the reference desk. I tried not to get too teary eyed because apparently college students don’t like it when you do that.

Last Thursday was when my friend was in labor. I checked my phone every five minutes to see if there was any news. After work, I went to Publix with S and our friend Shannon. While there, I picked up my phone again and noticed I had an email.

It was The Email.

Short, friendly, it was from one of my top agents (!!!), saying that she loved my writing, and my book.

And then I cried in Publix because, really, what else is there to do.

We scheduled The Call for the following day. I kept telling myself that it might be nothing, that she might just be asking for it to be revised. That was possible. Anything was possible.

But that didn’t happen. Instead, I met the nicest agent in the world, who had the nicest compliments about my manuscript. She offered suggestions on what to improve, and referenced Jordan Catalano, which made me want to be best friends with her. (Let’s be honest – if she referenced Daniel Desario, I probably would have proposed marriage.) She was perfect for both me and my book; I was so happy to put TNWSY in her hands. And then she offered to represent me. And then I ran around my office, flailing my arms in the air like Kermit the frog.

I couldn’t say yes right away, though. I emailed all of the agents who asked for either a partial or full manuscript earlier (including one who requested it only that morning. Sorry!) They all got back to me within a handful of hours, either saying they’ll pass or they’ll read it quickly and get back to me soon. So I waited. And waited. And then finally yesterday I got my final response.

So I called Michelle – my agent – and let her know that I’d love to work with her.  There were exclamation marks in both of our voices. And then I cheered. And cried (because apparently I do that a lot). And then I ran around like a Muppet again.

Because what else are you going to do when something like this happens?!

The funny thing is, I started out writing TNWSY simply because I wanted to tell a story. Sure I wanted to have a book published one day, but it wasn’t for that. I just wanted to write a story that was constantly in my mind. I wanted to finish it, and have it out there. And then it turned into something so much more.

I’m so thankful for Michelle, and for all of my friends (including you blog readers!) who’ve been with me throughout the process. I’m so happy it’s all coming together. Who knows what’ll happen next, but I’m ready to see.

Oh, and since I’ve never really mentioned it, here’s the title of my book: THE NIGHT WE SAID YES.

I’m saying yes to whatever happens next. Because I know, no matter what, it’ll be new and exciting and different. And I think my characters would be proud.

All At Once

I’ve heard quite a few times that you should never start querying a book while pregnant. The stress, anxiety, excitement, and disappointment are enhanced due to hormones and general craziness. Well, thankfully, I’m not pregnant, and don’t plan on being for a while. HOWEVER, I am querying during a different type of stressful time.

Job hunting.

My temp job at the library (which I love) is ending in April. It was actually supposed to end earlier, but they gave me to the end of the semester. If I get offered a job prior, of course I’ll just switch jobs sooner. My bosses here are incredibly nice and supportive. (In fact, before each interview, my co-workers literally cheer me on. I can almost imagine pom poms. I love them.)

That said, I’ve been practically glued to my e-mail and phone. Each message could dictate my future! It’s crazy, and incredibly nerve wracking. And the thing is – it’s every day. Query responses don’t come in overnight, and neither do decisions after applications or interviews.

On top of it all, my best friend is in labor. Today. I’ve been texting with her husband (who, incidentally, I befriended first back in college) all morning, getting every update. (Latest update, which has been my favorite: “They broke her water. There’s a baby insider her running out of water!” If you get this reference, we’ll be friends forever.)

So perhaps this wasn’t the best time to query, but honestly…I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Despite the stress and anxiety, it’s thrilling. Each “1 new message” could change my whole future. I live for moments like that.

You never know what might happen, right?

More on this later…

Second Guessing

[Before I begin…for those interested, here’s my query! And the first 250 words! And the title! I didn’t “win” this contest, but I made it to the top 25 which is awesome in itself. I’d love to hear what you all think.]

Querying. Is. Hard.

I knew it would be – every writer does – but I wasn’t prepared for it to be as engrossing as writing the actual book. I’ve been rejected a few times already, which is fine. I’m still going, still processing, still sending queries out. But like I said – it’s hard.

I think my biggest problem is second guessing myself. It’s smart to query agents who represent what you write. It’s smart to target those who have worked with similar books. But there’s still that…on a pedestal feeling, I suppose. I find an agent who represents YA contemporary romance. I look at their client list. I find authors I love. And then I feel…not worthy. As if my book doesn’t compare at all to those other books. As if it’s not as good.

Of course I shouldn’t feel that way, but sometimes it happens and I just skip that agent. When I shouldn’t. I should send them an email because, really, what’s the worse that could happen? I receive another rejection? Fine!

It’s easy to second guess. It’s much harder pushing through. So, today I’m doing just that. I’m querying those agents who represent similar books that I love. And perhaps I’ll be rejected, but that’s completely fine. At least I tried, right?

What are some things you’ve second guessed yourself about? And how did you power through? 


Show Up

You know that quote “80% of success is just showing up?” I feel writing is similar. Success is just doing it in the first place. In regards to that, I just read a great post by author Allison Winn Scotch about writing. Check it out here.

I think it’s the same once you’re done writing the book. After you’re done, you have to do something with it, right? So I am! I’m not going to chronicle all of my queries and requests and rejections. That’ll just be annoying. But I will state one bit of success I’ve had thus far. My query has made it to the second round of a contest judged by two agents. There are 25 finalists in total. Six will have requests for full manuscripts, and quite a few will get critiques and comments, or even partial requests. Honestly, while I’d love a request, I’m just really excited about the critiques. I’ll know what I did right, did wrong, need to improve on. That way I can send a better more prepared query out next. It’s a learning process, no?

Once the contest is closed, I’ll link over to my entry. I’d love to know all of your opinions.