How Did This Happen?

In November of 2012 I participated in National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo, completing a short novel about a haunted house.  I went over it and over it for the next year.  I struggled over how to go about getting it into people's hands.  Self-publish?  Self-rep my own novel to publishing houses?

In early 2014 I wrote small Tweet length synopses and participated in a Twitter event called Pitch Madness. Pimp your own book all day in hopes of a literary agent starring it as a favorite.  In such an event, you were invited to submit a query package to those agents.  I got a couple of bites.  I was excited.  A few days after that event, an agent said they were looking for something in particular and I thought my novel might just fit.  So I reached out, she seemed interested, and off went the query.

In a case of foot-in-mouth-disease, I realized what she was looking for might not really be what my novel was or what I wanted it to be.

She came back quickly, unable to represent at that time, but offering suggestions to improve the novel.  Some of which were things I had considered anyway, but I was apprehensive about submitting my firmly secular horror novel to a predominately Christian agency.  There's nothing in my novel blasphemous and I have no qualms with Christian literature, some of it is quite successful and socially impactful.  I tried, politely, to back out.  Said lady, Jessica, was quick to point out she had no issue with my nebulous spiritual leanings and that she could find a place for me regardless.  So, back to work I went.

Those other agents dried up and disappeared.

Somewhere over the next year I resubmitted.  Though she was no longer with the agency she had been with, she still wanted to give the novel a look.  She was discussing plans on perhaps starting her own imprint and might have an in for me.  I still communicated that if her endeavors were Christian leaning, I didn't want to compromise my work or her efforts.  Still she persisted that she wanted to work with me and my material.

I had on the other end of this exchange someone who seemed hungry and eager for my art.  That sort of determination gave me faith she would work hard to place my book on as many shelves and in as many hands as she could humanly venture.

So, I sat on my hands, continuing to go back into my book; tweak here, add there, remove this, tighten that...

Jessica, presumably quite busy trying to start a business and speaking with more authors than myself, was silent.  I reached out.  Nothing.  One last time...

As busy people are guilty of doing, the messages had been missed, lost in the shuffle.  She was indeed still interested, but she would only look at it as a possible agent, not a publisher.  That idea had fallen through and she was back to the agent thing, but of her own accord this time, not with a third-party agency.  I submitted a revised query, and after more (agonizing) waiting, we finally got down to hashing things out.

Upon finally speaking with her, despite the long road to reach the point (a pitfall of the game, and a nasty one when you're impatient and hungry for acknowledgement), she still sounded like she was ready to fight the good fight for my book.

In the midst of all this, I cannot stress enough how helpful my friend Kristen Scheer has been, from telling me like it is when dealing with an agent to sharing wildly inappropriate analogies to explain the inner workings of the process.  She looked at short stories of mine in the interim and has been a constant cheerleader.  You're very much appreciated Kristen, thank you for being unclassy and terrible!

After a few days of looking over the contract, clarifying points, and still confident in Jessica's confidence, I signed an agreement to be represented by her and her agency.  Now, it's back to hurry-up & wait status.  I believe my novel is in good hands.  I hope publishers agree.  But me?  I'm still just me.

Back to writing.

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