How I Got My Agent

At the end of November something TOTALLY AMAZING happened: I signed with literary agent Whitley Abell of Inklings Literary!

So here’s the long overdue story of how I got my agent🙂

THE SHORT STORY:

At the end of July 2014, about a week before I had Baby #2, I queried Whitley for my Young Adult novel by sending her a query letter (pitch) and some sample pages. In September she requested the full manuscript. (EEEP!) In November, she offered representation and I signed with her. (YAY!)

Wow! It happened just like that!

Well, not exactly.

THE LONG STORY:

I started querying agents in September 2013. I got a handful of bites from agents, but ultimately none of them panned out. Some encouraging and constructive feedback from an agent who passed on my manuscript sparked new ideas, so I started a revision.

While I revised, I got a few more full requests. (One request came six months after I originally queried, proof that this whole book publishing thing can be really slow going.) Fast forward to April 2014: with my shiny new revised manuscript I started my second round of querying, and I got a bunch of bites. Two weeks after I started this round, an agent offered representation. (WHAT?!) We talked on the phone, and she gave me a week to think about it and notify the other agents who had my query or manuscript. There was a frenzy of interest (note: an offer of representation is like agent crack). As I notified other agents that I had an offer, I was getting excited replies two minutes later! At midnight! I’ll read it over the weekend! I’ll get back to you ASAP!  Abundant exclamation points!

That whole week of waiting to hear back from other agents, while I had an offer on the table, was like one big exclamation point. This was happening!

It was exciting, and crazy, and of course involved compulsive email checking. (Yes, Gmail, I’m aware my inbox was updated 2 minutes ago. I’d like to check it again, thanks.) But even through all the excitement and the rollercoaster of incoming requests and rejections, a few things niggled at me about my conversation with the offering agent. She just wasn’t the best fit for me. So, as crazy as it felt, at the end of Rollercoaster Week I ended up passing on that agent’s offer of representation. After doing so, I had approximately seventeen panic attacks that I’d forever ruined my chances of ever being published, but I kept telling myself I’d made the right choice.

There was one agent who hadn’t gotten back to me within the Rollercoaster Week, so I shot her an email saying that I was still seeking representation. Lo and behold: the day after I passed on my first offer of representation, this agent emailed me saying she was still interested and could we talk on the phone? (Okay, it didn’t happen before, but NOW it was going to happen!)

We talked on the phone, and . . . it didn’t happen.

She wanted me to do an R&R: revise based on her feedback and then resubmit to her. It wasn’t an offer, but I felt so close! At the end of June I emailed her the revision and gave her a four week exclusive. (Now? Now it happens?)

After four weeks I hadn’t heard back, so I checked in with her: still no word, which, after revising based on her feedback, was disappointing and frustrating. Over almost a year I’d queried dozens of agents and been rejected again and again. At this point the hardest part wasn’t getting the rejections, but that the rejections didn’t pinpoint a specific problem in the manuscript. The rejections were sweet and encouraging and complimentary, but they all came down to agents not connecting enough, or liking it but not loving it. While on one hand this was great and points to the subjectivity of publishing, I almost wished there was some concrete, constructive criticism. Please, tell me what is wrong! I will make it better! I felt like I was so close, but also completely helpless.

At this point, a querying writer has two options: move onto the next project or keep querying. I did both. At the end of July 2014, I sent out my third and final batch of queries as one last shot and then threw myself into another project. (That is, I threw myself into writing between naps because it was summer and it was hot and I was really, really pregnant.)

More requests came in. Fun fact: on the day my water broke, one of the last things I did at home before leaving for the hospital was send out two requested fulls.

When Whitley requested the full in September, I could feel her excitement.

AND THEN IT HAPPENED.

She emailed me in November saying that she’d like to talk about representation, and my brain did this kind of glazing over thing where that special mix of shock and excitement and oh-my-god-this-is-happening washes over you, and you have to re-read the email at least ten times to really believe it.

We set up THE CALL. I did lots of happy dancing, then tried to be professional as I gathered my notes and questions for THE CALL. I had done all my Google stalking research and was so, so, SO thrilled because she seemed completely amazing. I knew I’d love to work with her. Even with my list of questions I was super nervous because I couldn’t shake the anxiety from the last two calls that hadn’t worked out, but Whitley gave me some grace. When I got off the phone with her, everything felt right and I was even more excited. I notified other agents, but I already knew I wanted to work with Whitley and spent the whole ten-day-wait asking myself why I hadn’t just said “yes” right away.

In the midst of everything, yes, waiting is hard and so is rejection. BUT in the end it is so worth it.  I’ve seen my craft grow in the past year, and, of course, I’m now privileged to be working with an awesome agent🙂

THE STATS:

Timeframe: September 2013–November 2014

Queries: 84

Requests: 23 (7 partials, 16 fulls)

Revisions: 2

Offers of Representation: 2

Chocolate consumed: Infinite

* Friends and family have been asking when my book will be published. Answer: Signing with an agent is a big first step towards getting published, but there are lots of steps after this. Nathan Bransford does a fabulous job explaining how an agent helps an author with these steps and why agents are important.

I have an agent!

I’m thrilled to be represented by Whitley Abell of Inklings Literary Agency! Wooo!

Check out my author bio on the Inklings site:

http://www.inklingsliterary.com/Marika_Autrand.html

Stay tuned for my “How I Got My Agent” post!

What’s Up Wednesday

KITERUFFLED2Wow, I can’t believe it’s Wednesday again already! The weeks are flying by.

Here’s another What’s Up Wednesday post: a blog hop hosted by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk.

WHAT I’M READING

I read the most amazing story by my wonderful CP, Kristine. I won’t say anything else about that because it’s her story to share, not mine, but it has stuck with me for days.

Also, I just started doing research for a novel idea I’ve had in mind for a while. I’m excited to dive into the research (super interesting!) and equally excited to venture into a new genre (YA historical fiction). That’s all I’m going to say for now🙂

WHAT I’M WRITING

I’m revisiting a draft that I left hanging in December. It’s very bare-bones (34K written), but I like what I have. This week I’m rereading, tweaking little things as I go, outlining, and making notes for bigger revisions. I’m also seriously considering turning it into a dual-POV narrative. Has anyone written a first person dual-POV? What made you decide to go multiple-POV instead of one? What was the biggest challenge?

WHAT INSPIRES ME

(Mostly) beautiful weather and starting a four-day weekend! (I say *mostly* beautiful because when we woke up this morning, there was snow on the ground. When my 2-year-old looked out the window, she cried. That pretty much sums up how we all feel about snow mid-April.)

WHAT ELSE I’VE BEEN UP TO

Well, I wake up every morning with all these ambitious plans for all the amazingly wonderful things I want to accomplish. But I’m pregnant and tired, so instead of being super productive, I’ve been taking naps. And compulsively checking my email (ahhhhh, query-hell. How I missed you.)

What’s Up Wednesday

TreeThis week’s What’s Up Wednesday post is going to be short and sweet because I am DROWNING in papers to grade. (Hello? Hello? I think I can maybe see you over these piles of papers.) My students are awesome and talented, and their writing is so fun to read (they wrote journal entries “in-role” as jurors from Twelve Angry Men) . . . there’s just A LOT of it to read.

WHAT I’M READING

I finished reading When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead and OH MY GOSH. Wow. The whole story, the ending, the way threads came together . . . I loved it all! Most of all, I was impressed by the voice.  (Don’t hate me), but I didn’t know if I’d be able to get into MG. I was wrong. The voice is just so pitch-perfect and so smart. I loved seeing a 12-year-old’s relationships–with her friends, a boy, her mom–through Miranda’s eyes. Now I’m looking for more contemporary MG to read…any suggestions?

WHAT I’M WRITING

Well, I FINALLY finished those revisions I’d been working on! (*Does happy dance*) Now I’m diving back into another contemporary YA project that I had started drafting but left hanging for these revisions. This new project is much darker. I’ve always been enthralled by twisted, more psychological stories, and now I’m taking a stab at writing one. What I worked on so far was INCREDIBLY FUN AND AWESOME to write, so I’m stoked to return to that and see what happens next🙂

WHAT INSPIRES ME

My CP and beta-readers. Seriously, a ton of love there. Especially at this point in the writing process (see below), having people root for me and encourage me is a HUGE inspiration and keeps me going.

WHAT ELSE I’VE BEEN UP TO

Querying. Yup, after finishing those final, final revisions, I started querying this week! (*Bites nails, panics, tries not to panic*) So if you’re having trouble finding me, it’s because I’m compulsively checking my email.

Want to participate in What’s Up Wednesday? Check out Jaime Morrow’s blog.

What’s Up Wednesday

KITERUFFLED2Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk started this awesome writer’s blog hop called What’s Up Wednesday. Last week was my first week participating, and I loved it, so I’m back again🙂

WHAT I’M READING

After finishing You Against Me by Jenny Downham last week (amazing YA contemporary, by the way), I’m starting Rebecca Stead’s When You Reach Me. Even though I teach 12 & 13-year-olds, I don’t read much MG. My students tend to “read up,” and I write YA, so that’s what I read most of the time. When You Reach Me is one of those books that keeps popping up–I see it mentioned in blog posts, agent interviews–so it’s time I finally read it.

WHAT I’M WRITING

Remember that round of revisions I was working on last week? I finished! Woo! I sent my revised contemporary YA out to readers this morning, so now I’m left with finishing my synopsis (*gags* *drags feet*) before diving back into a different project I’d put on hold for revisions.

WHAT INSPIRES ME RIGHT NOW

I love checking out Susan Dennard’s blog for some inspiration. My totally awesome CP, Kristine Kim, introduced me to this blog. Susan Dennard has tons of resources and tips for writers, which helps me when I get stuck on a scene or start to feel like I’m in a writing rut.

It’s also finally starting to feel like Spring, which is inspiring in and of itself🙂

WHAT ELSE I’VE BEEN UP TO

Now that the weather’s nice, it’s been so refreshing to spend time outside after work–such a simple thing, but it makes such a big difference.  Random, but also of note this week: last night my 2-year-old happily chomped away on her fennel-rubbed pork and sauteed mustard greens. (Not that she’s THAT picky, but still…she’s a two-year-old. She has strong opinions about food.)

If you want to participate with What’s Up Wednesday, go here.

So what’s up with you?

What’s Up Wednesday

Here it is! My first What’s Up Wednesday post:

WHAT I’M READING

I’m reading You Against Me by Jenny Downham. After reading a bunch of writing craft books, I’ve been needing to catch up on my contemporary YA, and this has been a great book to dive into because Downham understands CONFLICT so well (and on every level). Now the question is, what should I read next? I’m looking at Katie McGarry’s Pushing the Limits or Rebecca Stead’s When You Reach Me.

WHAT I’M WRITING

I’m working on (the hopefully last round of) revisions for my YA contemporary. I feel so close to being done. I’m ready to be done. Did I mention that I want to finish this?

WHAT INSPIRES ME RIGHT NOW

Being almost-done with this manuscript gets me all excited for the next project and exploring new possibilities.

WHAT ELSE I’VE BEEN UP TO

We took our preschooler to the Museum of Natural History this weekend. It was completely awesome. I feel so lucky that we’re close to the city and can show her all these mind-blowing and amazing things. She loved the blue whale room, and the dinosaurs (of course). In other mind-blowing news this week, I had my 20-week ultrasound. Even though I’ve been pregnant before, the whole thing still amazes me: that you can take this little mango-sized baby and see all 4 chambers of the heart, track blood-flow, see every vertebra of the spine . . . it’s completely unreal and wonderful in every way🙂

If you want to participate with What’s Up Wednesday, go here.

A Long Overdue Update

. . . And I just realized it’s been over a year since I’ve posted. (Ouch.) Not that this realization surprises me: I was well-aware that this blog was woefully neglected. But still. Over a year? Come on.

I stumbled across this weekly blog hop idea, which I love, and is such a simple (and short) way to get into a blogging routine, I think even I can do it.

This is from YA writer Jaime Morrow‘s blog:

What’s Up Wednesday is a weekly blog hop to help connect writers with others on this writing journey. With that aim in mind, if you would like to join us, we encourage you to visit a few other WUW blogs each week, get to know some of the other writers taking part, and spread some writerly love around! Remember to leave a link to your post in the widget at the end of this post.

For those of you who are new to WUW, here are the headings we are using:

WHAT I’M READING
WHAT I’M WRITING
WHAT INSPIRES ME RIGHT NOW
WHAT ELSE I’VE BEEN UP TO

So great, right? I’m looking forward to checking out WUW this week🙂