This is really ironic. Because the week before getting my offers, I read this blog post
by Andrea Brown Lit’s Jennifer Laughran about contacting agents when you get an offer – even those you’ve only sent a query to – and giving them a chance to take a look at your work before accepting the offer. I found this post on Natalie Fischer’s twitter
(you know, Natalie Fischer from the Sandra Dijkstra Agency who is totally awesome and if you’re not following her you really really should be and did I mention she’s awesome?). She agreed profusely. That one tweet+blog post directly came to mind once I received my first offer.
Natalie Fischer, of course, is now my agent. Can you guess why?
Honestly, people, when agents say give them a chance to look at your work, you should do it
. I’ve heard of people getting an offer and then promptly telling everyone who’s requested material from them not to bother because the deal’s already done. Remember, agents are people too! And most importantly, they LOVE books as much as we do! So imagine one agent’s really feeling your book, asks for more material all excited-like only to get an email back saying “lolz 2 late bitch!” – I mean damn, even I’d tear up a bit.
I can understand the other side of it – that is I can understand why people might want to go the ‘thank but no thanks’ route. Sometimes the luxury of choice can feel more like a curse, especially when you’ve got multiple talented, enthusiastic and professional agents all clambering to represent you. I’ve heard of people having up to four agents, maybe more, all offering! Dude! Who do I give the rose to? The hapless sensitive guy who’ll probably pass on making me his cuddle bunny so he can run off to an angsty pier and doubt himself some more, the dashing gentleman-type who may or may not have misogynistic control issues—
(Jake: STOP UNDERMINING ME!!!!
Vienna: *cries into her Gucci*
Chris: America, isn’t he just the most charming bachelor we’ve ever— WATCH THE BACHELOR PAD PLEASE OR ABC WILL BREAK MY SHINS)
—or maybe the dark brooding guy who’s probably stringing me along to get that record deal he’s been trying to land for years?
Obviously choice is tough. But choice is good, because assuming they’re not all pretending to be interested in you just so they can ride that 15-minute wave of Reality TV right into Dr. Drew’s Celebrity Rehab Shack, you might be able to find one that’s really right for you.
In any case, the same is obviously true for agents, and actually I can’t remember how I got onto the topic of reality television in the first place except I need to get off Television Without Pity before it starts invading my dreams (unless, of course, Leo DeC and JGL is somehow involved in which case break into my dreams all you want baby).
I should back up a bit though because this was originally supposed to be a How I Got My Agent post and it’s slowly turning into a rambly mess of mixed up metaphors and strange TMI Inception fantasies (of which I’ve had several today), so let us start from the beginning.
Well, maybe not RIGHT at the beginning. Let’s start with the first offer. I got it less than a week after querying that agent so as you can imagine, my head was spinning. Really, before this point I was thinking of giving up, what with all the rejections and the vicious doubt steadily seeping into my head. So getting that first offer was like a breath of fresh air, validation that maybe I’m not a talentless hack after all, and maybe I hadn’t been wasting my time, and maybe I’m not an idiot for dreaming so big.
But sometimes that relief can be a sort of double-edged sword. I mean on one hand it feels great, all those doors slamming in your face and suddenly a window opens and it’s damn stuffy in here – of course I want some air. At the same time, you might accidentally Jump at the Call so to speak and miss out on an opportunity to see if there’s someone else out there who may be a better match for you. You never know. So, after getting off the phone, I took a deep breath and I started sending out my Offer of Representation email notices to all the agents out there who had my fulls and partials, just to give them a chance to take a look. I did them first before remembering Natalie’s tweet.
Now, I’d been following Natalie’s twitter for a long time and wanting to query her since February. My initial query to her was actually dated February 27th (the old draft is still in my query files :D ). But after getting a few rejections and realizing that there were fundamental problems with the ms, I decided to hold off on querying her (and other agents for that matter) until I could figure out what to do, improve my skills and rewrite the ms (I’ll probably write a separate blog post about the process of writing the ms itself – hey, I gotta pad this blog with something
). So in May, after the Grand Rewrite That Included Many Lost Hours of Sleep, I sent her my query+synopsis+50 pages via Canada Post (Xpress you guys. XPRESS. Yes, that’s how serious I was) expecting NEVER to hear from her again. But the thing is, I REALLY wanted to hear from her. I’d heard so many awesome things about her and absolutely loved the interviews she’d done (many of which you can find on her querytracker page
). I wasn’t expecting much, because honestly I have this thing where I perpetually think I suck no matter how much other people tell me otherwise or how hard I work on my craft (I should really fix that), but I sent her the notice anyway, remembering her tweet, that blog post, and how awesome it’d be if I could be repped by her!
Imagine how shocked I was when she emailed me back thanking
me and letting me know she’d actually taken my sub home to read! For those of you who follow her twitter, you’ll know that she won’t take stuff home to read unless it really interests her, so the very fact that my ms got to join her coveted To Read Pile was so totally awesome! Reader, I squeed.
I’d given all the agents a week deadline to get back to me. In the meantime, I had my work at a camp to keep myself preoccupied. I was Overnight Staff, so I essentially slept during the day and stayed awake from 9pm to 8am to take care of the guests (all of whom have special needs). I remember one night at about 3am, I’d just spent a good twenty minutes mopping a lake of urine off bathroom floor and decided that was the perfect time to go get something to eat (mmm it was Tator Tots). I went on my break, took my laptop to the dining hall, which was the only place to get wireless, and immediately started fulfilling my daily ritual of stalking agents on twitter. And then I came across Natalie’s twitter and…
OMG IS SHE TALKING ABOUT MY MS? IS IT ME, IS IT ME, IS IT ME, IS IT ME, IS IT ME?
She said something to the effect of loving a submission and not wanting to miss out on it and after hacking the Tator Tot out of my windpipes, I checked my email, just kind of wondering. Hoping.
HOLY SHIT SHE OFFERED REP OMG! YES *promptly pees self*
I think I ran back to the cabin I was working at and told my co-worker what had just happened. She was like, “Oh cool.” Then she asked me what my story was about. I told her. She was like, “Oh cool.” Way to harsh on my squee.
So now it was a matter of finding the time to talk to her. This was tricky because the camp I worked at had crappy reception. I knew I’d have to wait until I went home on my break (that started on Sunday) to talk to her, except on Sunday I’d be travelling all day to Ottawa for my niece’s baptism and then all night to go back home and then on Monday I’d be travelling to Windsor for my cousin’s high school graduation and accompanying after party, and yet I had to still find time to talk to Natalie before the Tuesday deadline while keeping in mind the time zone difference and WHY is nobody writing this thriller? DON’T GO OVER 50 MPH OR THE BUS WILL EXPLODE.
I decided to wait til Monday at 8pm EST because surely the graduation would be finished by then as it’s supposed to start at 4pm and for Natalie it would be 5pm. I’m sure my family wouldn’t mind me skipping out on the little after party to go talk to someone that could be my agent. So I set the date and time. Flash forward to Monday (WE HAVE TO GO BACK KATE) where my mom goes ‘oh hey guess what, it actually starts at 6:30! And it’ll probably start even later!’
Um, yeah. So instead of calmly talking to her inside one of the comfortable rooms of my cousin’s comfortable home after the graduation’s over, I’ll have to find some way to do it inside the very loud hall my cousin’s graduating in while still finding the time to watch her, you know, graduate.
But it was okay, I knew I’d find a way to make it work. So I strap on my heels and walk inside the hall with my long list of TO ASK AGENT questions tucked in my little purse, and I’m checking my watch, and I’m checking the stage where all those cute wittle high schoolers are and – oh look my cousin’s graduation photo’s on the huge wide screen hanging on the wall that’s so cool! – and I’m checking my watch again and I realize something.
I FORGOT TO WRITE DOWN NATALIE’S PHONE NUMBER.
So I’m ready to kill myself. Surely there’s a wireless network here that my phone can connect to so I can check my email and get the number she so graciously gave me – oh wait there’s not! WEEE.
So I’m freaking out. I grab my brother and order him to drive me back home, only because I’m freaking out so badly I knew that if I drove myself I’d crash into a tree and die and then I’d REALLY miss the phone-talk/graduation and THEN where would I be? Problem was, it generally takes a really long time to get from that particular hall to my cousin’s house and I knew that by the time we got home, got the number, and drove back to the hall, I’d have missed both.
But then, a miracle happened. When I was at the end of my rope, it descended from the heavens, shining like a beacon of hope – that beautiful yellow sign, powerful black letters: a reminder to all that some form of Providence truly does exist in this world:
Nearby! My heels were nearly broken I was running so hard, and to the gentlemen of the audience, running in very high heels is not easy, is not recommended, looks ridiculous and my ankle is still a little twisted and my pretty shoes will never be the same. Ladies you know what I’m talking about.
So I hobble inside the store and I’m really, really stupid asking the cute employee who says hi, “IS THERE A PLACE WHERE THERE ARE LAPTOPS AND I CAN USE THE INTERNET???” Keep in mind my brain wasn’t working at this point. He goes: “Um…yes, there is a place?”
Yes, it sounded that awkward. In fact, it couldn’t have sounded more awkward if M. Night had wrote it. In fact, I think he already did write it:Aang – oops I mean Ahng: Is there a spiritual place where I can meditate?
Princess Yue: Yes there is a very spiritual place!
But my dialogue fail aside (and I probably wouldn’t have noticed it if my brother hadn’t pointed it out because all the blood was rushing to my head) I ran to the laptops, checked my email, wrote down the number, hobbled back to the car, went back to the graduation, WATCHED MY LITTLE COUSIN GRADUATE, and then ran outside just before 8pm to find a quiet place to talk.
To my agent!
I was excited. And breathless. And still a little dizzy, which probably contributed to my dorky-soundingness, but it was amazing and by the end of it I pretty much knew I wanted her as my agent. I ran back inside the hall in time to take more pictures, and I was off to revel and celebrate and ice my feet!
I looked over the contract, deliberated, bugged more of Natalie’s clients over the internet, bugged my family, remembered that today was actually about my little cousin and tried to keep the bugging to a minimum, and then the next day I accepted the offer!
*phew* Okay, I’m hungry now. But I hope this was…enlightening? Entertaining? Probably confusing? All of the rambling and pop cultural references aside, I guess the moral of the story is ALWAYS PACK EXTRA SNEAKERS. I think.