27 | I HAVE AN AGENT!!!

*screams into the void forever* 
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I HAVE. AN. AGENT. 
...and it only took 3 books, 50 tubs of ice-cream and a lot of rejection.

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It's been a long journey to get here and I never thought I'd be able to write a post like this. I remember two or so weeks ago, some publishing stats in the UK came out and it left me extremely depressed and certain an agent would never offer. The world works in weird and amazing ways!

So, getting into my How I got an Agent Story will require some serious flashback power. I'm talking first failed query, I'm talking hot mess of a manuscript that I actually sent out to 35 AGENTS!!! and of course, we must look at the stats and see what persistence and a lot of research can do to the number of fulls/ partials you receive.

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Book 1: YA Contemporary Sci-Fi - 54K words 
Queries sent: 35 ish 
Full Requests:
Partial Requests:
Offers: 0

I queried this book with high hopes. It had such a cool magic system, aliens, an academy for magicians, murder, mystery, and Shakespeare! I was so in love with it. Agents weren't. AND I DON'T BLAME THEM! 

That book was a hot mess. I did 4 things that essentially guaranteed rejection. 

1. My query letter only spoke about me and not the story
2. I had a prologue - which can be amazing when done well. Mine wasn't. 
3. I sent out my 1st draft - yep, barely edited it. 
4. Which meant...no betas or CPs whatsoever


Wow. Between sending my first 1st query for that MS and my last query - 2 month period - I learned SO much. And knew that this manuscript needed so much work - work I didn't have the passion to give it. So I shelved it.

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Book 2: YA Contemporary Literary Crossover - 74K 
Queries sent: probably just over or just under 100
Full Requests: around 5 
Partials: 1
Offers:  0


I'd been mentally writing this book for over a year before I sat down and wrote something on my phone's notes app, then I found myself writing more and more and then I rushed to my laptop and I started writing the whole story.

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This story came straight from my deepest inner secrets and fears and I was so connected to the protagonist and his narrative. I took my time editing and I produced something I was so proud of and confident in. I remember getting my first full ever 2 days after I sent my first batch of queries and I cried. I was on the phone to my friend at like 10 at night and I got the email alert and was so shook.

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I also ended up taking part in DVPit for the first time ever! (DVPit is a twitter pitch contest for own voices - diverse - writers) and during this period where I was first considering entering, I applied for so many DVPit critique competitions and met two amazing writers who helped take my pitch and query to an awesome level (<33333 Thank you for everything PJ and Paul x) and my pitch did...okay.


With this book I also experienced beta's and CPs for the first time, and it was the book I found my wonderful beta's Cass, Lorna and Bronwen. Their encouragement and love for the story motivated me during revisions and rejections. 
The rejections for this book hurt even more than the rejections I received for the sci-fi book because this book was and still kind of is a reflection of a lot of who I am, so when they said no, it felt like they were also rejecting me as a person. 
With this book, for the first time, I experienced personalised rejections! The first book resulted in purely form letters, but this one came with comments from agents. I remember one agent replied and said my writing was very good, but that she sees no way to market the book. This is when I first became aware of how important the market is for agents. I received an r&r style rejection and the same thing was brought up! This mystical market, and so I decided to research and realised that even I could not easily distinguish where this book belonged on shelves. But I still felt that that should not hold me back and so I continued to query and continued to get the same thing. 

Shelving this project was so hard because it meant everything to me. I fell into a major depression and decided to give up for a while on writing, querying and checking my emails. During that time period, I convinced myself I was a crap writer, and that I should give up and go home. And home I went, where I began binging a popular series that my friends always recommended to me. 
The name of that show is Gossip Girl.

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(amazing words from Blair Waldorf)

Book 3: YA Contemporary Mystery - 70K 
Queries sent: around 60
Full Requests: around 23
Partials: around 15
Offers: 1

Watching Gossip Girl changed everything for me. Not only did I find a show that I fell completely in love with, but I found a new idea for my story. An idea that consumed me until I wrote a 15K plan, featuring two black students at this elite private school. 

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I loved slipping into the voice of a snarky anonymous bully and creating a story I loved as much as I love Gossip Girl. I made a detailed plan of when I'd finish, writing 2.5K words a day so that I could finish this book within a month and send it off to the mentoring competition Author Mentor Match where I desperately hoped to be paired up with one of the four agented/published writers I had chosen to sub to from the list. 

Unfortunately, I didn't get picked...

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I was so so devasted. I remember reading the list like 20 times and it made no difference. My name wasn't there. I closed my laptop, turned off the lights in my room, drew the curtains and sat for hours in darkness just wondering why I thought this thing was something I could do. I hadn't queried this project yet and I was already getting rejections. 

I didn't want to look at that manuscript ever again, I just wanted to fall through a hole in my bed and not come out ever. But then I got an email. 

It was from an Author Mentor Match mentor who wanted to give me feedback. I read the feedback and I was shocked to read that...she didn't think my book sucked. It still sucked of course that I wasn't chosen, but that little spark of hope made me turn the lights on and get out of bed. 
A day or so later I receive another email from an Author Mentor Match mentor, and she talked about actually liking my book... I was so happy to receive her notes, they made sense and I could see a clear editorial vision for my book. 

And so. I got to editing and not so long after that I sent out a batch of queries. 

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I was so nervous this time around, despite having my query checked over and over and over - I think it was seen by around 10 or so eyes - and decided to dive face first into the trenches. No more than a week later I already had 3 full requests!! I was nervous but excited and contemplating whether to send more queries or to wait until after DVPit - which I planned on entering again. I decided to wait and perfect my pitch instead. I sent the pitch out to a few writer friends, it got taken apart and refined until I was completely satisfied with it! Then, the day for DVPit came and I sent my pitch out into the world then closed twitter and went into a meeting. 

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When I came back, my phone had over 50 notifications. 



I freaked out! But not too much. I knew what it was like to have a DVPit tweet have so many likes and agent interest that would amount to nothing and so I told myself 'this will probably be the same thing' and so I calmed down, watched the likes go up and began to list every single agent and editor that showed interest. I waited a day or two, making sure my manuscript was in a good condition, and then I sent it out to 5 of the 25 agents I was planning on subbing to.

Immediately I started receiving full requests! Sometimes I'd receive one every other day and sometimes I'd receive 6 in one day. I had to calm myself down. Remind myself that 1. it is hard to get an agent 2. hype has amounted to nothing for me before. During this period I had my screaming buddy and one of my closest writer friends Kess by my side screaming and crying after rejections and rejoicing with requests.

I came so close to giving up so many times, especially since so many of my rejections were agents who loved the voice, the characters and the story...just not enough to make an offer. So I kept going down my lists, I keep my lists pretty specific - choosing agents who love dark themes and twisty plots - and I came across an agent whose bio fitted my book PERFECTLY. I remember shaking as I queried her, so worried that this would end in yet another rejection.

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So I sent it at around 3am, went to bed and woke up at 9am to a full-request...(I may have messaged a few of my friends freaking out... *cough* adiba, kess, mel *cough*)

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I did the usual... neurotic check of my manuscript for horrible errors, and then I sent it off, feeling so sick because I've sent off so many fulls at this point and gotten so many rejections back. (This was the 15th of July)

On the 21st of July, I received an email. I was at work and I checked my phone and saw the notification and sighed, bracing myself for yet another painful rejection.... instead I saw these words...

'...I have absolutely loved spending this morning finishing Ace of Spades - it's a gripping and powerful read and I'd love to offer you representation.'

I read those words over and over - my face looking like Jin's from BTS whenever he's shocked:

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I literally had to leave work for a bit because I couldn't function. I quickly texted 3 of my friends (cough kess mel and adiba cough) and screamed at them via text. In which they screamed at me via text also. 

I am still in shock...I think I'll still be in shock in years to come. 

After work finished I rushed home, and started writing down all the agents that still had my fulls and partials and I sent them emails regarding the offer, gave them two weeks - and received so many lovely responses - but decided to withdraw a little early and go with the first offering agent because she is amazing, so easy to talk to and her clients adore her. 

And that agent is... Hannah Sheppard of the DHH Literary!! 

I am still so hyped and I want to thank everyone who supported me! Gonna do a longggg twitter post but to generally throw some names out there...My Queer POC fam, Adiba, Mel, Kess, Ryan, Mars, Vanshika, PJ, Paul, Dana, Judy, Lorna, Cass, Wendy and Bronwen! 

Thank you so much to everyone, especially Hannah for taking a chance on me and my story!!
Until next time

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