On June 6 2013 I received a letter from my super awesome agent, Brittany Howard, explaining a hard decision she had been forced to make. You see, between the time that I signed with Brittany and now, she wrote a book, self-published it and ended up selling a floppity baljillion copies--okay so that is an exaggeration but not buy much. She became a world-wide sensation--operating under the pen name Cora Carmack. She let me and my agency sisters in on this cool top secret info before she came out to the public--which was pretty awesome. Anyway, sadly and understandably with her growing fame and the demands of her new writing career she had to make the hard decision to leave agenting.
Several emotions went through me after reading the letter.
At first I was like:
Because I absolutely loved Brittany as an agent and a friend and couldn’t imagine my YA Paranormal novel being in anyone else’s hands. I mean she just got me.
And yet a big part of me was like:
Because I was so happy for her writing career! Her book was incredible and the world was recognizing it! She was traveling the world meeting and reaching her readers--basically living every author’s dream! And all the hard work she’d put into her writing was paying off in the best way and Brittany completely deserved it.
Then finally I was like:
Not only was I HUGELY pregnant--my due date a mere 13 days away and the idea of bringing Lexi into the world with me agentless made me feel like a failure (hormones were reeking havoc on me)--my options were limited. I had seven full manuscripts out with editors from Brittany’s submissions. Three of them I wasn’t holding my breath for because they’d had it forever and hadn’t gotten back to us after several nudges--which left me feeling like this.
So Brittany sent off a final nudge to those left--explaining the situation and gave them a respond by date if they were still interested. If they were then I’d go about signing a contract myself and the agency would collect the commission like normal. Unfortunately three didn’t respond and one passed.
I could’ve went with another agent at the same agency, which wouldn’t have been a bad path to take, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I loved Brittany and didn’t know any of the other agents at the agency or their tastes. Plus, I wanted someone who loved the manuscript and had to have it, not someone who was forced to take it on.
I could’ve self-published with Brittany’s expert advise and wisdom guiding me along the way. This option is always in the back of my mind, but I haven’t brought myself to do that either. You see, I have this dream of being traditionally published. It’s been a dream of mine since I was 14 years old and I’m not going to take matters into my unexperienced hands unless it’s my last and final option. I admire those brave enough to go the self-publishing route and some day I may be one of them. But not today.
So that left me with diving into the murky rejection filled waters of querying. The thought of querying again felt a little like being pushed back to square one. I mean I’d already done this. I’d suffered through two manuscripts worth of queries--re-writing each of them a million times and re-reading every rejection to try and find the hidden words that would illuminate how to make my book absolutely perfect and sellable, even if they were forms! The thought of having to do all that over again had me debating this:
After I took some deep breaths and hashed it out with my husband I knew querying was really the only path for me at the moment. For me, it was the best decision, because I had to believe there would be another agent out there that would love my manuscript as much as Brittany did and because I knew an agent understands the market and business side of writing WAY better than I do.
Turns out my husband knows and understands me better than I do because he suggested I ask one of my close critique partners if she would talk to her agent for me. See, her agent had been previously employed at Brittany’s agency before going out on her own. So she knew the players and might have some sound advice for me. When he suggested this to me--which I would’ve never come up with on my own--I was pretty much like:
Of course because my critique partner is AMAZING she forwarded the dilemma to her agent--Jamie Bodnar Drowley--who immediately emailed me to talk. I was floored with how incredibly helpful she was. Here I was an unknown connection to one of her clients in an awkward predicament and she opened her mind to me. Gave me advice and talked out options with me and even asked to read my manuscript! Even though I had no idea if she’d love it or hate it--I sent off my manuscript feeling like I actually might get through this.
After a few more emails back and forth and after Jamie finished reading the manuscript she asked for a time to talk...on the phone! This is a huge deal for writers--if an agent wants to speak with you on the phone it usually isn’t to reject you, at least not that I’ve ever heard of...that would be a new kind of awful.
The call went incredible and not only because my newborn baby girl Lexi didn’t wake up in the middle and demand to be fed, but because Jamie was wonderful!
She understood the manuscript and me as a writer. She also loved the fact that her client and Brittany both had endorsed me as a writer and to them I say:
And she offered me representation! Which I eagerly accepted!
I’ve always said everything happens for a reason and perhaps the reason I was signed with Brittany first was not only to make an awesome friend who gave me priceless advice and helped shape my manuscript to an even better version...but to set me on the path that led to Jamie--who happened to used to read for Brittany. And maybe, just maybe, Jamie will take my novel to the one place I’ve always dreamed it to be...the bookshelf. I have every confidence that she will and even though these past few months have been an emotional roller coaster ride...having my first baby, losing my first agent (which is almost like being broken up with on a writer level) and finding my book a new home where I feel it will be represented in the best possible way...I can’t really complain.
I’m lucky enough to say that my first agent is a best-selling author who is living the dream and that she actually loved my book enough to take it on for as long as she could. I’m lucky enough to call her my friend and know that if I ever need any advice she’s there to call upon. I’m lucky enough to say that I made some connections in the way of agency sister’s that are unbreakable. I’m lucky enough to say that after thinking all hope was lost, a helping hand opened a new door for me and welcomed me inside. So instead of being mad at the crazy turn of events, I’m beyond thankful and can’t wait to see where this new path will take me and my novel.
So thank you to all who listened, offered advice, and even offered her agent to me, THANK YOU!