Late post today since I’m fighting a cold–at least I hope it’s a cold and not something that’s going to knock me flat right out of the tax season gate. Here’s hoping.
So, way back in 2004, I bought this little day planner/personal organizer with the intention of keeping track of daily novel word counts and (eventually) which agents I was submitting to and on what days, etc. for my novel project. If I remember right, I’d been submitting to agents prior to this, but 2004 was when I really started to keep detailed records. And, just to give a little more context, the novel I was working on when I bought the planner was a futuristic/romance, so this goes back a ways.
I kept using the planner past 2004 because it seemed a shame to waste all that note space, so I have a list of agents and their responses for that futuristic/romance novel project, for the Venice book, and now, for the YA steampunk book, roughly over a period of nine years. And yes, three books in nine years might not seem like a lot, but there was a novella, five Forgotten Realms novels and a bunch of short stories scrunched in there too, so I’m pretty close to my goal of writing one book a year.
Anyway, back to the agent querying. Looking at the records, some interesting patterns emerged during that querying time. The futuristic/romance netted a couple of partial requests, but no requests to see the full manuscript. Also interesting, I didn’t start querying on the next project, the Venice book, until almost four years later. This isn’t surprising, as Venice was the ultimate learning book for me. I went through several drafts, focusing on a different element of craft during each one. It was also the first book I gave to my critique group, which was an eye-opening experience, seeing how differently they viewed a book I’d been working on for three years. Details that seemed clear and well-explained to me because I’d been reading and re-reading the story for so long were lost on them, proving that I’d gotten too close to edit effectively without outside eyes. But, when I finally did send out queries on the book, the time I’d spent improving the story and my craft–on that project and in the Realms–showed. The Venice book netted several partial requests and two requests for the full manuscript with personal feedback on each. I didn’t manage to get an agent for the project, but I felt like I was a lot closer.
Everything that I’d learned up to that point went into the YA steampunk book. I watched out for the missteps I’d made on the Venice book, and I told myself that this time I wasn’t going to spend three years on the draft unless I thought it was absolutely necessary. Thankfully, it wasn’t.
Over the years, my agent lists had changed with the genres I was writing in, but there were a few names that came up on each list (my dream agents, so to speak), and one that was at the top of all three: The Nelson Agency. So, when Sara Megibow requested a partial and then the full manuscript for the YA steampunk book–right before Christmas too–I was freaking out pretty good.
And then The Call came. Actually, it was an email to set up a time for The Call, but still. Sara loved my book and wanted to represent me. My dream agent loved my book and wanted to rep it. Best Christmas gift ever.
So, nine years and a lot lot of work, but it was amazing to finally circle an agent’s name in my old 2004 planner instead of crossing it out after a rejection. It was a small thing, but it meant the world to me.