THE CALL

This is a story best told in two parts. Actually, three, if you count writing the first book, which is now gathering dust on the shelf where many (most?) first novels go to die. I’m going to try and tell it succinctly, and with as few GIFs as possible.

So let’s start with Part 1: NOVEL WRITING 101

I wrote a book. The idea came to me one rainy afternoon at the cottage. I’d never written a book before, and wondered if I could finish it. I did, but it took almost six years. It had some really good moments, but it didn’t have enough of them. So after going through the process of learning how to query and get a book ready for agents, and getting a few nibbles, I shelved it. Hey, we all need a practice book.

Part 2: YOU DID WHAT?!

So I wrote another book. This time I set out to do all the things I didn’t with the first book. Namely, to write it in less than six months and up the stakes. And thanks to a dedicated 5 am writing schedule and NaNoWriMo, I wrote it in three months. Then I revised it for three months. I got help writing the dreaded query letter (from Lauren Spieller, who helped me make my query letter ah-mazing. She’s for hire, so check her out!) Then things got very, VERY exciting. There was a contest, requests, offers, and more revisions. If you want to know more about Part 2, I wrote about it in great detail so I won’t bore you with that here. But Part 2 left me feeling a little like this:

Part 3: A long haul to THE CALL

Once I turned down the offers, choosing to take my chances with more revisions, I spent another three and a half months revising the book. It was a long, challenging, and frustrating process, and one I could not have done without my amazing critique partners Rosey, Abby, Kristy, and Kate, all of whom gave me fantastic crit notes and were tough on me when I needed it. The book would truly not be where it is today without their excellent comments and speed reading abilities!

Finally, my critique partners signed off on the manuscript and I felt the story was in the best shape it could be. It was polished, ready to go. So on May 28th, I sent out my first query. At first I sent them out in batches of 10, to my list of agents I’d meticulously researched. When I got a rejection, I’d send out another query or two.

Now I don’t know if ALL THE AGENTS IN THE WORLD were on vacation in June, but my inbox was full of crickets. Silence. Nothing was happening. I spent most of my days hitting refresh on my email, willing something interesting to show up. I also watched this video a lot, because it makes me strangely happy (thanks, Summer, aka Fizzygrrl, for first introducing me to this weird and wonderful GIF):

 

I was bored. Worried. Hitting refresh way (WAY) too many times a day. Wondering if I’d made a mistake querying during the summer. Waiting for something, anything, to happen.

Finally, stuff started happening. I got a request. Then another one. Then partial requests were upgraded to fulls. Good sign. At the same time form rejections were coming in. But that’s okay. I was ready for them. I was happy to get them because it meant I could send out another couple of queries.

It’s often advised you send out small batches of queries, then wait for a response on all those before sending any more out. And that you query your top, “dream” agents first. I appreciate this advice, but like all advice, it needs to be taken with a grain of salt (please excuse the cliche — as a writer I know I’m supposed to loathe cliches but I can’t help it — like the trampolining elephant, cliches make me strangely happy). I’m going to write more about the querying process in another post, but here’s what worked for me: I didn’t have a “dream” agent; I don’t believe such a thing exists. I had a list of agents I would have loved to work with, and I was going to keep sending out queries until one of them said “yes.” If no one had said “yes”? I would have shelved book 2 and worked on book 3. That was my strategy.

Now while I was in what one critique partner refers to as the ‘query ditch’, I did have low moments. Times where I was sure none of this was going to work. I talked about shelving book 2. I filled my critique partners’ inboxes with depressing drivel. I lamented not having taken up a different “hobby” — like knitting, imagining I’d have stacks of blankets and scarves rather than forgotten pages of words. I still had a few fulls out with agents, but had started to accept I needed to let go of the book and the process and start the next story.

So I started writing my next book.

Then July 31st happened. It was a Wednesday, and I sent out a very important query. To an agent I’d been twitter stalking (c’mon we all do it), but one I wasn’t sure represented my genre. I had sent her a message via Twitter a few weeks earlier trying to find out if she was interested in women’s fiction, but never heard back. However, her name kept popping into my mind so I decided to just send her the query and see what happened.

So at 3:21 pm on Wednesday, July 31st, I sent her the query. Not long after I got a response. She’d love to read it. There is nothing quite like the feeling of getting a full request from an agent. You get all bubbly and excited, the anticipation of “maybe … just maybe this will be the one who pulls me out the ditch …”

Then next day I got a rejection on my full from a different agent. Rejections on fulls suck. There is no other way to put it. But for some reason I didn’t feel all that upset by this one. I chalked it up to experience and practice (nothing like getting good at getting rejections!), and moved on.

That night, I checked my email before going to bed. It was 10:44 pm. And there, in my inbox, was this from the agent I’d queried the day before:

Hi Karma,
Are you available for a chat tomorrow?

I stared at it a moment, calmly trying to figure out what it meant (yes, I realize it’s pretty obvious, but querying writers like to OVER ANALYZE EVERY WORD). I showed my husband. I started freaking out. What could it mean? I asked him. He looked at me like I was crazy. Obviously it means she wants to chat. (Obviously) But … why? I asked. Again, the look from him. But, but … I said. She’s only had the full manuscript for ONE DAY. What, is she some kind of speed-reading super agent?

Yes. That is exactly what she is.

We set up the call for the next morning and I spent the night like this:

Turns out she did in fact read the manuscript in one day. And she loved it. And when we chatted on Friday morning? She offered me representation. And when I got off the phone I DANCED A JIG. Honestly, I did. Because not only had I just had THE CALL, it was amazing, and she was so passionate about the story and what we could do with it that I just knew she was the one.

Now because I still had fulls out with other agents I needed to let them know I had an offer. As was standard, I gave them a deadline for the next week and then I waited. But this was a good kind of waiting. I had an offer I was thrilled about. Best. Feeling. Ever. Kermit flail kind of stuff.

 

Fast forward a week, deadline day, and things got crazy. I ended up with two other offers, and a big decision to make. I won’t bore you with the gory details of that day, but will say it involved a lot of stress. And stress eating. And stress. There may have also been a tad of wailing. And I considered cracking open the wine at 2pm. Did I mention the stress?

But ultimately I kept coming back to my conversation with agent #1. And I knew she was the best fit not just for the book, but also for me.

So because this post has grown out of control like fruit flies on ripened peaches (sorry!), I’ll end it with this: I am now represented by the amazing Carolyn Forde of Westwood Creative Artists, and I couldn’t be happier about it. Nothing like crossing a massive goal off your list. So thanks to Carolyn for pulling me out of the query ditch!

And because we all seem to love stats, here are mine:

Queries: 70

No response: 30

Rejections: 30

Requests: 10

Offers: 3!!! (from three amazing agents … feeling very grateful)

Finally, I have a few thank yous. First, to my husband, who has patiently listened to all the drivel, the story ideas, the plot points, the whining, the excitement, the annoying analysis, and told me over and over I’m talented and this will happen … I’ve got a good one in my corner. Also, I couldn’t have done this without the help of my amazing crit partners, Rosey, Kate, Abby, Kristy, Julie, and Kim. Or my early beta readers, Katja and Melissa (and my mom!). And of course, my morning #5amwritersclub crew, who kept me company and kept me motivated during those early morning writing sessions! And I wouldn’t have survived the madness of deadline day and multiple offers without a few others: Dahlia (if you’re querying, or have any questions about author stuff, you must check out her blog), Summer, Juliana, Lauren, and Rachel. THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH.

And because I’m nerdy like this, here’s a pic of me signing the agreement. Of course, it’s sort of staged because when I actually signed the only one home was my five year old. Who is not bad with an iphone, but hasn’t mastered her photo skills yet. So I saved one copy and signed again later. Still, it’s important to capture the moment, don’t you think?

You may also like

31 comments

  • Kate August 13, 2013  

    Karma, not only is this amazing news for you, but also a wonderful post to share. I’m not anywhere close to thinking about taking my writing in the book direction, but I’ve still been fascinated to follow the process and learn all of the ins and outs. Congratulations on your hard-earned achievement, and I look forward to reading your published book!

  • Maria @amotherworld August 13, 2013  

    Congrats again! Love hearing how it all went down. Your determination and tenacity is inspiring!

  • Summer August 13, 2013  

    1. This is so amazing! And I am seriously so freaking thrilled for you!!

    2. I never tire of that GIF, 😉

  • Karma August 13, 2013  

    Thanks, Summer! And yes, that GIF is the BEST THING EVER.

  • Katja August 13, 2013  

    Reading this post this morning has me grinning for you. Congratulations Karma! It’s amazing and encouraging and a bunch of other ing-words. Also, the GIFs suit every moment.

  • Karma August 13, 2013  

    Thanks, Maria! Appreciate all the support.

  • Karma August 13, 2013  

    Thanks, Kate! Fingers crossed my little book gets published one day : )

  • Karma August 13, 2013  

    Thanks! And I meant to warn you about the GIFs : )

  • Kelly Clements August 13, 2013  

    Congratulations Karma!!!! What an accomplishment- and a relief! Can’t wait to read!

  • Nadia Carriere August 13, 2013  

    You are amazing! Truly. What an amazing journey you’ve been through. Huge congratulations Karma and very well deserved!!

  • Jaye Robin Brown August 13, 2013  

    Hooray for one of my fave early birds!!!!! Now I’ll wait for the sale announcement! :0)

  • Brent August 13, 2013  

    Wonderful news. Congratulations!

  • Karma August 13, 2013  

    Thanks, Brent!

  • Karma August 13, 2013  

    Thanks, Jaye! Love my #5amwritersclub crew : )

  • Karma August 13, 2013  

    Thanks, Nadia — it has been an amazing journey for sure!

  • Karma August 13, 2013  

    Thanks, Kelly!

  • Roselle Kaes August 13, 2013  

    I am soooo happy for you!!! Well-deserved! Can’t wait to see DD go on sub! ;D

  • Christy Laverty August 13, 2013  

    amazing! congrats. All of your hard work paid off… can’t wait to buy your book!!!!!! You will sign it for me right????

  • Nay. August 13, 2013  

    For some reason, I’ve got happy tears welling up in my eyes!
    I love, love, love happy ending stories…

    Congratulations!

  • Louise August 13, 2013  

    Thanks for sharing so honestly, Karma. And congratulations again. What a thrill!!!

  • Karma August 13, 2013  

    Thanks so much, Louise! : )

  • Karma August 13, 2013  

    Thank you! I’m a fan of happy ending stories, as well : )

  • Karma August 13, 2013  

    Thanks! And yes, that’s really the secret — lots of HARD WORK!

  • Karma August 13, 2013  

    Thanks, Rosey! Eeeek – ‘on sub’ is something I don’t even know how to think about …

  • Dahlia Adler August 13, 2013  

    So, so awesome, and especially excited about what I perfect fit I know you guys are!! Huge congrats!!!

  • Karma August 13, 2013  

    Thanks so much, Dahlia! Your support was invaluable : )

  • Judy Woodburn (Mom) August 14, 2013  

    That’s my girl! I knew you would do it…because you never give up until you do.
    I love your blogs. I love your articles. I love the book.
    I LOVE YOU!
    Congratulations on this first big step to success.

  • Karma August 14, 2013  

    Thanks, Mom! Love you xo

  • Aileen August 5, 2014  

    I’d love to write a blog like this one day haha! I like when writers write about how long it took for them to get an agent and/or publisher. It makes me feel hopeful 🙂

  • Karma August 5, 2014  

    It also REALLY shows that for most of us it’s a long trip to agent/publication 🙂

  • Aileen August 5, 2014  

    Yes the VERY long haul (with no guarantee). The hard bits are when you’ve hit a wall at what to do next, hence my interest in pitch wars. Had not even heard about it before this year, am new to Twitter. Anyway, thank you again.

Leave a comment

*
To prove you're a person (not a spam script), type the security word shown in the picture. Click on the picture to hear an audio file of the word.
Anti-spam image