My husband and I spent the weekend in Iowa for the Gentlemen of the Road concert tour (mainly to see Mumford & Sons). On Friday night, at the Hampton Inn in Waterloo, I got the email that I've been waiting for ... an offer of representation!!! (She actually used the word "Brava" in her email, which kind of cracked me up.) Now, I've had an agent before so I know this is just another tiny, slow step in the long and winding journey to publication. But at least it's a step in the right direction!
This agent and I have an appointment to talk on the phone tomorrow night, and she'll get to ask me questions and I'll get to ask her questions and we'll decide if we're a good fit. In the meantime, however, the proper protocol is to let any other agent who has your manuscript know that you've had an offer so that they can either back out, or throw their hat into the ring as well. It's kind of a "shit or get off the pot" email, and I'm super excited to be the one to be the one to give a deadline for a change! Also, since I only started this querying process 38 days ago, and most agents give a query response time frame of up to 8 weeks, I've contacted all the agents who have not responded to my query to let them know I've had an offer as well. (This actually generated one request for a full already last night!)
So, now I wait a bit longer. My daughter and I are traveling to New Orleans for the USAV Junior National Volleyball Championship on Wednesday and will be gone for a week, so I gave a deadline of July 7th. I currently have 8 full manuscripts and 1 partial manuscript out with agents, and there are another 29 agents who have not responded to my query. I'll be interested to see how much interest is generated now that there is an offer on the table. Two agents have emailed me back to say they are still reading and still interested. The hope is that I'll get multiple offers of representation and I can pick the agent who is the best fit for me.
I can't tell you how excited I am. After years of going through this process with frustrating results, I'm finally making some relatively quick headway. And there's a lesson in this for me. I wouldn't have learned all the things I've learned over the years if I had quick and easy success. My writing would not be as good, my query letter would not be as effective, I would not be as confident in myself or the process. I've gotten to this point exactly because of all the failures and stumbles along the way.
Fingers crossed that I keep taking steps forward from here on out!
I didn’t do any blogging last week because I was up to my elbows in cookie dough. My 16-year-old daughter started her own business last year – a bakery called “Gumdrop Ninja”. It’s interesting to note that she has made far more money in her year as a professional baker than I’ve made in my lifetime as a writer. If you taste her chocolate cupcakes, you'll understand why. I’m so proud of her ambition and the fact that she’s not waiting until she’s my age to follow her dreams. (If you want to check out her food blog – which is only a little bit about baking and a LOT about healthy food – visit avocontrol.weebly.com.)
Anyway, I am her sous chef and we had several cakes, dozens of cupcakes, and a zillion iced sugar cookies to get done, so blogging (and writing and querying) took a back seat to baking.
In the haze of flour dust and sugar highs, I got three more query rejections, but also three more requests for more sample pages, and one upgrade to a full (this is when an agent who requested a partial liked what she read, and now wants to read the whole thing). So that’s not too bad. I’m running at about a 21.2% positive response rate on my queries with quite a few still out. I’m feeling okay about that number. Currently there are six agents with partials or fulls of my manuscript.
And now that the update is out of the way, today I want to write about writer envy, which is not too much different than the cupcake envy you are feeling right now. Seriously ... look at those beauties.
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Where was I? Oh, right! Writer envy. So last week I read a YA (young adult) book called Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell and this week I am reading Mosquitoland by David Arnold, both recommended by my daughter, who has pretty darn good literary taste if I do say so myself. If you haven’t read them yet, you should. How writers can say so much with so few words, SHOW and not TELL so skillfully, and be FUNNY at the same time amazes me. And when I read books like these, I get a bad case of writer envy. I look at my own work and think it’s a big pile of craptastic crap and I’m all “No wonder I haven’t been published yet. I suck compared to this.”
When I get like this, the best thing for me to do would probably be to 1) eat a cupcake and 2) read a book that I think is horrible. Like, go out and find the most awful book I can think of and force myself to read it – and the more commercially successful it is, the better. Like read a 50 Shades of Gray or Twilight or pretty much anything by Nicholas Sparks and remind myself that you don’t need to be the best writer in the world to get published. You just have to fill a need and find an audience. (I apologize if I’ve offended those of you who love 50 Shades or Twilight or Nicholas Sparks. They certainly have their merits. But taste is subjective and I personally am not a huge fan. I can guarantee I love authors that you can’t stand, so we're even.)
Unfortunately, I don’t usually do that. Well, I eat the cupcake, sure. But I don't console myself with bad books. Instead, I wallow in doubt and negative self-talk and frosting. I reread parts of my manuscript and cringe. I beat myself up for not being better.
But the truth is, there are so, so many books out there. Mine will be better than some and worse than some. I hate some books that have gotten rave reviews and I love some books that are critically panned. There is a place for all kinds of writers.
I just need to remind myself that I can find my place. There is room for all of us.
(And seriously, check out my daughter's blog: avocontrol.weebly.com)