My “How I got my literary agent” story

I used to read these stories all the time during my agent hunt. They used to inspire me and I’d even daydream about writing my own one day. Funny, then, that this has taken almost six months to write! Let’s start with some stats:

Manuscripts written: *squints* 8. And a novella.

Manuscripts queried: 2

MS 1(2013/2014) : OK. *cracks knuckles* 77 rejections. Ouchy. I got three full requests from that, and one R&R. Double ouchy.

MS 2 (late 2014) : 10 rejections, 2 personalised rejections, four full requests, one offer of representation. Much better! I was determined to be more selective this time around, sending out only a few queries at a time to gauge how I was doing.

I queried Amber Caravéo at Skylark Literary almost as soon as they opened. I’d read some great interviews and there were plenty of YA writers talking about submitting. And, you know, her name is in the acknowledgements of some of my favourite YA books of all time. How cool is that?

Timeline:

Started querying MS2: September 10th 2014

Queried Skylark: November 26th 2014

The Kinda-Call: Feb 2nd 2015

Signed Contract: March 1st 2015

(I’m laughing at myself because in my very “organised” spreadsheet of submissions, in the comment section, I’ve written: “quick reply on 27th – Amber has said she will get back to me by mid-December and even personalised her notice email. Aww I really really like Skylark. Can I has?” Talk about when you know it’s right)

Now, here is where the story might get a little bit… different than the ones you’ve read in the past.

I got The Kinda-Call on Feb 2nd 2015. I missed the call, of course, because these things never happen like you imagine. When I got the courage to phone Amber back (after literally banishing my husband from the house – I made him go for a drive!) she told me she thought my book was one of the best books she’s ever read… that will never get published. We had a right laugh about it actually. It was miles too dark. Like… miles. But there was something she liked in my writing, and she couldn’t let my submission go, luckily for me! She requested to see anything else I’d written.

I sent her two of the manuscripts I was working on at the time, neither of which were polished. One was even my 2014 Nano project; hammered out in 28 days and never touched again. OMG. I remember saying, over and over, these aren’t polished! These aren’t polished! But Amber assured me it was the writing she was interested in, and she could look past any messiness. Thankfully.

So I bit my nails for a week or so, and then she phoned back. I was out shopping at the time, so I legged it out to the car park and paced like a lunatic as we talked. She’d read them both. She thought the writing was strong, and I had a talent for writing fast-paced YA thrillers. YAY!

Amber invited me down to That London the following week. Could I sleep that week? I could not. I kept waking up in the night, heart racing. What if Amber comes to her senses and calls everything off? Did I dream The Kinda-Call?

The weirdest part of this week of limbo was telling my friends and family I was a writer. It was my secret “thing” up until this point. I even hid my first two (trunked) manuscripts from my husband, and we live together! I felt like I needed some verification, I suppose, before I told people. Amber’s faith in me gave me that confidence. The reactions were overwhelmingly positive.

My dad, in typical Dad-fashion, asked if I was going to become the next J.K Rowling. Errr… bless him 🙂

So, I went down to That London on the train. I met Amber and her business partner Jo. They were both amazingly professional and friendly, and my nerves went away within minutes. We had a great meal and chatted about everything, from my photography to our favourite holidays, to our favourite reads (I was totally on a Gillian Flynn kick at the time).

Fun snippet: Amber may or may not have said she was worried about calling me because my manuscript was that dark. I assured her: I’m nice, honestly! No bodies in my back garden! 

(… the dogs would only dig them up. They’re in the Mersey, obviously.)

Anyway. Once I’d somehow assured her I wasn’t a crazy-lady, at the end of the meal, Amber offered representation! YAY!!!! Best. Moment. Ever.

Here is an excerpt from my diary that day. And yes, it is in all one rambling sentence because sometimes life is just too damn exciting for punctuation.

I signed with Amber at Skylark Literary and it was amazing and terrifying and they were lovely and so complimentary I am so excited to get to work but first – celebrations! I got quite tipsy after coming home and fell on my bum and lost my watch, somehow? Nevermind – who cares? My bum hurts and I don’t know what time it is but don’t have a care in the world!

I think I need that on a T-Shirt.

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So yeah. That was my state of mind for the month of March. What a wonderful time. I got a chocolate lamb and a cocktail. My friends know me so well.

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I signed the contract March 1st, just a few weeks before my 28th birthday. I’d given myself a goal of having an agent by the time I was 30. I am persistent. Oh yes. I had a long term plan set out for querying the rest of my projects. I decided I wouldn’t stop until I had a thousand rejections. And who am I kidding? I probably wouldn’t have stopped, even then. Some dreams are stickier than others, and this writing thing? I’m stuck on it. Big time.

It is now July 2015 and we are working on getting the MS polished, ready for submission. I know this is only the start of the hard work, but I am so ready to kick butt.

That’s the story! Thanks for reading!

Bonus-LOLs

Due to many wondrous things occurring in the month of March 2015, starting March 1st with getting-a-fricking-agent, I sort of thought… maybe I was in a coma? Things were going a little *too* good, ya know? In the month of March, 2015:

I signed with an amazing literary agent,

Did the photography at a huge venue for my favourite childhood band, Papa Roach,

Got a birthday cake at Nandos (lol),

Had so many celebrations for my birthday and agent-getting, including a shout-out in Pop World (mid Mysterious Girl),

Went to a Sci-Fi weekender and my fave film of all time – Galaxy Quest! – was on the Quote-athon. And I totally won the quote-athon because it is my favourite film,

Emails no longer gave me heart attacks, after years of querying. (It’s still weird!)

THE X FILES – AKA THE FIRST LOVE OF MY LIFE – got green lighted for a 10th season,

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I got Employee of the mother-fudging month!

I got a £400 tax rebate.

Honestly. What a month. I think I might still be in a coma, because everything has been quite lovely since, too!

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