SFCatty: Danica Avet was one of our first commenters on this blog. We all love her and Sayde and I had the chance to meet her in person at RWA National – She is as awesome in person as she is on the net- her blog posts are always funny and I enjoy her tweets as well. She’ll try to tell you she’s shy but she’ll be fibbing. This girl is a crazy Louisiana chica and her favorite bar in New Orleans is owned by my client/friend. We found that out at National as well. Any straight chick that likes to hang at a gay bar on Bourbon Street is totally NOT shy! Welcome Danica. We’re glad you’re here!
Limbo Rock or the Agent Shuffle
I’ve chewed on this post ever since I was asked to be a guest blogger for the Sizzlers. My first thought was: Moi? Truly, truly? My second thought was: What the hell am I going to talk about? I mean really. I’m just one of many unpublished authors scrabbling for publication. I don’t have any great insight into the writing industry. I’m not an expert in anything except for Fantasy Men, but since I was told “no frontal nudity” that took all the fun out it. Yes, I’m still pouting, ladies!
So I stewed. Then I read Brandi Hall’s post about Canceled Contracts and realized I do know something. I know how not to get screwed on the agent end of the publishing world. In May, I sent queries everywhere. I mean, I was ready. I was going to have an agent for Nationals because this book was great. I chose to go with my top level agencies first. My queries went out on a Thursday morning. Friday I had a request for a full from one of my dream agents. Monday morning I sent that manuscript out sprinkled with hopes, wishes, and some holy water. By Thursday, the agent called me back. ME! *swoon*
I was so nervous, so unbelievably excited that I just listened to her for half an hour. She loved my story, loved my characters, loved the world I’d built. She didn’t want to change a single thing. Stupefied? Why, yes I was! So when she said she wanted to start sending out proposals immediately, I was baffled. Should I do this? What to do? I asked her (rather hesitantly) if I could have the night to think about it. She said of course. I mean, she knows I’m overwhelmed and excited. So that’s what I did. I thought over it that night. I would say I slept on it, but that so did not happen. I was a nervous wreck. I asked everyone their advice. Do I take it? Oh the agony of deciding!
I called her back on Friday morning. I was going to do it. This was my break and I wasn’t going to be some couillon and pass it up! We did a verbal handshake and she said the contract would be ready on Tuesday. She wanted to send out feelers while we were waiting on the contract to be drawn up and I was like “cooool!”. I sent out e-mails to all of the other agents saying I had found representation. In the meantime, I wrote up a short synopsis for two more books so we could present them as a 3-book deal and sent them to her. She knew exactly who she was sending them to. Tuesday came and went and I didn’t hear from her. She shot me a quick e-mail later that week saying that seven out of the ten publishing houses she sent the proposal to wanted the full. SQUEE! It was really happening!
The contract still didn’t come in. I was waffling, something I try not to do. Do I call her to find out about the contract? Or do I just send her e-mails that sort of lead into the conversation? I settled on the latter. I didn’t hear back from her. Meanwhile, I have “real” life issues going on that distract me from the agent problem. The next time I look at the calendar, it’s been nearly a month since I heard back from her. What was going on? Where was my contract?
When I finally had enough, I got an e-mail from her. Thank God, right? No. She was no longer with her agency. She wished me luck, gave me the name of another agent at that agency if I wanted to stay with them, otherwise I had to look for representation somewhere else. Wh-What? Wait, what? Are you serious? She gave me a list of the editors who had my full manuscript and the others she’d queried for me. I sat staring at my computer like…huh? Now my process had to start all over again, but I was stuck. My manuscript is on the desk of several editors, but I have no agent. I’m an orphaned author! *cue the sad song*
I contacted the editors I could and started querying agents all over again. Except this time, no one wanted to touch me. I take a bath every day, y’all. Swear it. But it was like I had cooties. One of the agents, another one of my favorites, sent me a lovely rejection. She liked the story, but it needed work and she just wasn’t sure she’d have anyone to pitch it to since it was out there already. This became a recurring theme from the agents in the second round of querying. That’s the limbo part.
For a while, I went through the whole “this isn’t FAIR” stage. I might’ve even imagined running outside during a thunderstorm and screaming “nooooo” at the sky. Instead, I sat back and really thought about it. This isn’t actually a bad thing. My book and name is sitting in front of seven very important editors at right at this moment. (Unless it’s being used to prop up someone’s desk.) These are publishers who don’t take unsolicited work. That’s a good thing. Several of the agents who rejected me the second time around may remember me when I query them the next time, that’s another good thing. I now know not to do diddly-squat without that contract in my hand, which is yet another good thing.
So you see, even though the limbo bar fell on me and you know, knocked the breath out of me, I came away with well-learned lessons that will stay with me forever. I know I’ve said this before, but it’s so true: writing is a journey. Two writers can start at the exact same time, finish their manuscripts together, send them out together, but from there the road forks off in different directions. Everyone’s journey is different. Trials and tribulations seem to hang over some writers more than others, but learning from your mistakes and troubles, learning from your fellow writers’ mistakes or troubles, is what makes getting published possible. Stay positive no matter what comes your way. Be supportive of your fellow writer and accept support from them. Learn as much as you can from the agents and editors in your genre to better understand what they want.
And to borrow a phrase from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure: Be excellent to each other…and party on, Dudes! Congrats to the Sizzlers for their one year anniversary and thank you for letting me post! Love y’all!
SFCatty: Thanks for coming by, D. And just because Danica’s first comment on one of my posts was about the nude sports team calendar I posted and because she sent me this picture as a joke, here is another team for your viewing enjoyment: