Those of you who were at any of my events at Barnes & Noble stores this past weekend probably have a good idea of what I’m about to say, but for those who weren’t, have I got a story for you.
Hang on. Things are going to get crazy.
But first, we need to go back.
All the way back to November.
For the past couple years, I’ve participated in an annual writing competition called NaNoWriMo. It’s this online thing were writers all over the globe demonstrate just how crazy we all are by challenging ourselves to write 50,000 words within the month of November. For those of you who don’t know how massive that is, this post is now on word 120.
Only 49,880 to go! Woot!
For this past November I had planned on starting Unclaimed book 4. I like to have at least the first draft of the next book done before I begin editing my current book which would be book 3. I did the same for the previous 2 books and this format allows me to drop in little hints of what’s to come. Anywho, days before NaNo started, a new story rudely interrupted my dreams which is where all my stories come from. It happens a lot actually. Typically I write down the highlights if the story is good so I don’t forget it, and go back to dreaming about the story I want to work on. So I did that, only problem is, this new story wouldn’t shut up. It refused to leave my mind no matter how hard I tried to steer it back to Unclaimed 4.
I gave that impatient story what it wanted and that was to be told. To fly across the screen of my laptop as I furiously worked to get the words out for NaNo. And honestly, I was okay with it, but this story is really good too. Very out of the box for me. Which had me a little intimidated. But it was so, so good. And after several nights of dreaming this story, just like with Unclaimed, I wanted to keep dreaming it so I could see where it went.
Some scenes were hard to see.
But I loved it.
NaNo came and went and I slaughtered the 50,000 goal as I have the previous years. But I didn’t finish the story. Looking back now, I don’t think I wanted to. With Unclaimed, it’s different because it’s a series. I will be in that world for years to come. But this one is a stand alone. It’s a one and done. So I put it away for a few months and went back to revising Unclaimed 3 & starting Unclaimed 4.
Then Camp NaNo came along which is a smaller version of the biggy. For these ones, you can pick your goal. It can be 100 words or thousands. Totally up to you. The camps happen twice a year, in April and July. Several members of my writer’s group wanted to try the April camp, so I thought what the heck. I might as well finish that story. Enough time had passed and I was ready to put the ending on the screen. Plus, it was nagging again.
I edited earlier parts, rewrote some scenes, and finished the ending.
Still with me?
Here is where things start to get crazy.
Around the time of the camp, I heard about a contest on Twitter where you could pitch dark stories to agents and publishers who are looking for them. And that’s what this story is. It’s a young adult thriller. The contest was #pitdark. I had done Twitter pitch parties in the past and they are a great way to submit to agents and publishers. The date for the contest was May 12th so that left very little time to whip my story into shape in case anyone did ask me to submit.
So I enlisted the help of my wonderful hubs and some trusted readers to help speed through it and fix any flaws. They had amazing suggestions and the book became even better.
The day of the contest I was mostly ready. The story was good to go, but I hadn’t had time to whip up a query letter or synopsis. (for those who don’t know what they are, they are nasty little buggers that help get agents and publishers interested in the story and they are required.) So in between sending out hourly tweets to pitch my story (scheduled tweets during the hours I was at work) I worked on my query and synopsis.
Oh yeah! I was also battling pneumonia, which is why my query and synopsis weren’t ready. (I got better. The meds helped. Don’t worry.)
Throughout the contest, something wonderful happened. Agents and publishers were liking my tweets which meant they wanted me to submit to them!
By contest end, 10 places had requested to read either samples or the full story of this new, dark story with an additional 3 places allowing anyone who was in the contest to submit to them for a total of 13 places.
For any writer who has gone through this, you know what comes next.
When sending your story out, 1 of 3 things happens, each of which you’re trying desperately and failing miserably to not watch your email like a hawk.
- You’re rejected immediately. The email is a standard form rejection that they send to everyone, but it still stings. If you aren’t immediately rejected, you move on to…
- You wait. And wait. And wait to hear back. Average response time is 4-6 weeks, though some companies never reply if they aren’t interested. During that time you tell yourself stories about how not rejecting it right away has to be a good sign. It means they are considering it, right? Sometimes, but not always. Which bring us to…
- They liked it and want to read more. Sometimes they want just a little bit more. A partial. Sometimes they want it all. And you repeat the waiting, but this time, it’s harder to not watch your emails. And your heart flutters each time you get an email notification, even the ones that are spam. Oh, that sucks. But then you see the name of a place reading your story and your heart goes into overdrive, wondering if you will be rejected or if by some miracle, they will still like it.
For this story, I went through all that. I had a couple of all three. After the first couple rejections, I submitted to two places outside the twitter contest, bringing my total number of submissions to 15.
That was the Friday of Memorial Day weekend.
May 29th, Saturday, I missed a phone call from an agent wanting to discuss my story with me.
May 30th, Monday, (Memorial Day) I talked with the agent and he was interested in representing me. He sent me a blank contract to look at while he finished reading my story and we would talk again at the end of the month.
May 31st, Tuesday, I had a new email from one of the two new agencies. (yes, they only had it since Friday) They wanted to read the full. Now this particular agency was one I’d had my eye on. I had submitted to them in the past, but was rejected. I submitted to them again now because I still liked them. They are a very reputable, well-known and well-liked, agency. But that also means they are very busy. A request for a full from them usually doesn’t happen that quickly. Especially right after a holiday weekend. So I sent it to them.
A few more requests for fulls came in from several other places, both agents and a publisher from the twitter contest.
I was in shock. Thankfully I had many events to keep my mind off of it both book-wise and family.
I talked with other authors and my friend/editor for advice. This is all new to me.
Yes, I have books out, but I never got this far with regards to submitting for the “Traditional Route”. When I was submitting for Unclaimed, I got lucky and found Wise Ink pretty early on. I loved them and still do! But I wanted to try something different for this story.
June 7th, Tuesday, I heard back from the 2nd agent, wanting to chat about my story.
June 9th, Thursday, we talked. And it was amazing. Not only did she love the story, but she offered to represent me!!!!!!!!
As I said, they are a very busy place. Their query reader is months behind. I have friends who have queries out with them who have been waiting and waiting and they wanted to know how in the world I got such a fast reply. The agent told me. With their reader being behind, the agent had a slow day and decided to read through the queries herself. That’s when she found mine the day I submitted and she loved it which is why she asked for the full that Tuesday.
Hearing that . . . I don’t know. It’s like I felt like the planets had aligned for us to work together. There was just something that felt so right while we were talking. As badly as I wanted to say yes to her right then and there, I didn’t. Here is why:
Having the story out with other places, what we’re supposed to do is take time to think about the offers and during that time, let those still reading it know an offer has been made. I did that. Some offered their congrats and backed out. A few wanted to know when my deadline was and who the agency was. I told them. The deadline was this week. I wasn’t sure I could make it a week without caving and calling her back and being like YES! YES! FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS CHEESY (they’re in Wisconsin) I ACCEPT!!!
But I restrained.
During the weekend, as I said in the beginning, I had multiple B&N events. It was B-fest, their first ever book festival for teens. I had 4 events over the weekend between 3 different B&N stores. It was crazy, but it helped keep my mind preoccupied. I talked at the events about it and each time, I so wanted to say I’m going to say yes. Because again it felt right.
June 12th I sent her an email asking if she was free to talk this week. Who accepts something this big over email?
This needed to be said.
June 13th, Monday, was crazy-booked, so as much as I didn’t want to, I had to wait until Tuesday to tell her the good news.
June 14th, Tuesday, came. We talked. And I told her the good news. YES!!! And she was ecstatic too!! She sent me the contract which brings me too…
Drum roll please….
June 15th, Wednesday, I signed and I am now officially represented by Linda Scalissi, 3 Seas Literary Agency.
I am notifying the few places that were still interested in the story and letting them know.
I am beyond thrilled and excited to work with Linda! Our journey has just begun. Next step is editing that story to submit it to publishers. That will be crazy too and I promise to keep you all in the loop.
Oh! And anyone still keeping word count, 1904 😉