Thursday, 3 April 2014

How I signed with my agent. Mad March Part 1.


The Method

Please stand back a little *bounces around room in joy*






So let’s rewind. In November 2012 I start writing a novel. I have no writing experience, at all, just the one big idea and I fall in love with writing the moment I begin. I discover Scrivener, I write a lot of drafts, I read a lot of novel-writing books, I read a lot of YA books in my genre and I benefit from the critiques of a lot of readers. I take a month away, polish my new novel when I get back and *think* it is ready for submission. First batch of queries out 22nd August 2013. Whilst querying I write the first draft of another unrelated novel (now shelved whilst I concentrate on my trilogy).

Submission Campaign 1 is a modest success. Very modest. 2 full requests result in helpful rejections, 19 form rejections (yes – 19!) and 2 personalised rejections.

Doesn’t sound like good stats, but I’m a realist. I know this book might not make it and the whole process can take years, so I am satisfied with these few votes of confidence. I recognise this manuscript still needs work. So with the help of agent comments and four new critiques, I power through a huge January rewrite.


It goes well.

Darlings are massacred.

I read Blake Snyder's Save the Cat and make a beat sheet. More darling blood spilt.

First 6 chapters rewritten. Middle 7 chapters rewritten. New ending. Entire novel revised. One character combined with another. Major main character personality tweak. New title comes to me.

I finally feel I KNOW my novel and I am even able to sum it up in a twitter pitch (more on that later).

I send the new draft out on Submission Campaign 2 with a fresh new pitch. I have a method – same as last time. I send out 3 sets of 8 submissions. I research and write notes on every agent and tweak my letter and submission accordingly. One set of 8 every 3 weeks - I like to plan. Some are new agents, some resubmissions to agents from last round. Some small agencies, some large, some new agents, some very well established.

All falls quiet *tumbleweeds roll by*.
After 3 weeks, a form rejection. Ho Hum. First rejection after submission is a tiny death of the spirit.  I sigh and send out the second batch of 8 submissions.


At the beginning of March it starts getting interesting. I receive one full request, then another in the same week. Then a rejection on my full, then another request the same day. At this point I allow myself to get excited. I join in a twitter chat with the wonderful Golden Egg Academy – where I made my first writer friends on twitter. An agent favourites my twitter pitch, I contact him, he likes my sample and also quickly requests full. *Levitation ensues*

3 fulls out. Another couple of rejections dribble in, but the agents reading my full like it. They email me saying they are busy but enjoying reading and to ‘keep them posted’. My heart races every time I open my inbox (which is far too often) and I continuously feel like there had been some mistake.

Then another agent requests – saying he loves my sample and not to do anything until he’s read the full. Later on that day he OFFERS REPRESENTATION!

I cannot believe it. I am in a free lesson at work and can’t help whooping (wooo hopping) all over the place.

I email the other 3 agents reading my full manuscript to tell them I have an offer. They ALL want to meet me. I line up 3 meetings in London for the next day and one for the following Saturday.

I email all other agents who still have my query/ initial submission and haven’t rejected, and most say they’ll they fast-track reading. I have ANOTHER 5 full requests. I think. I am rapidly losing track. My world is a blur. I’m having hot and cold sweats. Some reject pretty quickly – all with lots of heart-warming compliments and excellent reasons – it wasn’t for them or they didn’t have time to compete (it was Bologna Children’s Book Fair week). No more form rejections – Yay!

Stay tuned for part 2 tomorrow up tomorrow. How I chose my agent.

Who - me? I’m just a girl with too many notebooks and an unhealthy obsession with her crumby old laptop. Literally crumby. Twiglet crumbs.

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