Friday, February 1, 2019

How I Got My Agent

Not this kind of agent but ya know. ;)
January 24th, 2019 marked the day I signed with my first literary agent and I’m just so overwhelmed and overjoyed. I’ve wanted to get an agent since I was sixteen and I’ve been actively pitching and submitting for five years. This is the sixth agent I’ve applied for and ironically the first one I’ve queried since I’ve pitched to others in person at conferences. For those who don’t know a literary agent is like a liaison between authors and publishers. They can get you into publishers that an author alone wouldn’t have access to, they help negotiate contracts, and help upkeep the author’s interests as a whole in the publishing process and beyond. This is a relationship that will hopefully last me years into my career. 

All of this started earlier in 2018 when my friend became an intern for C.Y.L.E. @ Hartline Literary. I’m so happy for her, but I was hesitant about submitting to C.Y.L.E. because I didn’t want it to look like I was using my friend as an in, so I didn’t look too much into it. Besides I had some publishers and a different agent I was submitting to. In September I had my friend and colleague Bryan Davis (author of Dragons in Our Midst and Reapers) suggest I submit to the agency. At that point in the year, I was feeling very discouraged since I hadn’t heard from any of the people I had submitted to and I was just really lacking motivation. I decided what the heck and went through the submission process (which is very unique for most agencies) and sent out my first agent query.

A few weeks later I got a rejection from a publisher I’ve wanted for over ten years and resolved that I’m no longer dealing with publishers directly. I’ve had it. In January I wanted to send out queries and never pitch to a publisher again because I was so sick of it. In November, I heard back from C.Y.L.E. requesting a full manuscript. This didn’t thrill me too much since I’ve gotten this far multiple times before and nothing came of it. So I sent the manuscript and went about my NaNoWriMo business.

On New Year's Eve, I was waiting in my car on a rainy night in Helen, GA for the Edelweiss Drop (their equivalent of the Ball Drop) when I got an email from C.Y.L.E. requesting for a Skype appointment. I was so thrilled. I’d never gotten this far before. The next day I emailed back and we set up an appointment for the following Friday. That whole week I was so anxious. I didn’t want to somehow screw up this opportunity. I just knew I’d be either incredibly happy or incredibly disappointed after it. I’ve gotten really excited about writing opportunities before only to nine times out of ten have them shot down by a bazooka barrage of disappointments. 

The day of the appointment came and I was really calm and at peace. I dressed nice and called the intern I would be working with. After some small talk to break the ice, we spoke about how the Skype call is to mostly gauge the behavior of the author. Like to make sure they’re not crazy. I’m thankfully normal enough to pass that test. Then we started talking about my book and he asked how I was inspired to write it then he started telling me how much he loved the world and the plot. He said when he got my submission he said to his colleagues, “Guys I’ve really got something here.” And inside I’m like:

We also got into discussing revisions and because of how much he loved the story I wasn’t afraid of the critique (I’ve had publishers call me racist and incompetent before so color me paranoid). All of his points were really good and he layered on the good parts too so I really felt like it was one of the best critiques I’ve had. And then I asked about if I’m in like is this really happening and he said yes. I also talked about publishers and how I really want some with decent distribution like in bookstores and then he tells me he wants to submit Red Hood to one of the Big Five’s imprints that’s published Brandon Sanderson and I’m like:

I don’t know if I’ll actually get in there but just the fact that it is a possibility is like:

The call only lasted a half an hour but I was basically in shock for a good minute then I called some of my close friends and family to tell them the news because I was so freaking excited. Then for two weeks, I held in my urge to proclaim my news from the rooftops while I waited on the contract. In the meantime, I reviewed a copy of the contract to make sure everything is legit and had a friend look at it and everything was legit. I also looked at some of the intern’s full feedback so I can assess what needs to be changed. 

Then on the 24th as soon as I got into work I got the email that my contract had come. OH GOD!!!!!!!!!!! So all day I was watching the clock waiting to get out so I could go home and sign. Then after my forty-five-minute commute, I set my stuff down and rushed to my laptop. And then I signed it digitally and sent it off and I'm like ... dang, that just happened.

So now I will be working with my agent and betas to polish my manuscript and get a proposal ready to be sent out to publishers.

I know my journey is far from over. My book probably won’t be on shelves for a few years yet but this is a big step toward my dreams and it just feels so amazing to be validated after years of working unpleasant day jobs, having other people tell me what I “should be doing with my life,” and just me myself doubting that all of the hard work I’ve put into my dream is actually worth it. I’m also really happy how God worked this out. The other publishers and agents I was going for could only get me into a smaller Christian market but now I’m working on going into the general market which has much more reach and opportunity. I appreciate the Christian market for what it is, but I feel like my place is in general.

I know many of you reading this share my same dream and I just want to say keep the heck going. It’s going to really suck I mean really suck sometimes, but if you want something bad enough, you can accomplish your goal. One of my favorite quotes is:

When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you'll be successful.  
Eric Thomas, The Secret to Success

I’ve wanted this since I was eleven years old and finished my first crappy 20K word manuscript. I want to create worlds and touch others peoples’ hearts. I’ve had some people tell me I do that in my essays but there’s something about touching someone else through a character that has something long-lasting. I know I’m going to fade away someday but those characters will always be immortal symbols of hope in my stories.

I want to share my accomplishment with you guys because yes it means a lot to me and I want other people to share in my excitement, but I also want you to see proof that some other human that doesn’t have the god-like status of a celebrity can do what you’re striving to do. I hope that inspires you to keep going. 

I’ll keep you guys informed about the process as I go forward. Keep an eye on my social media for more immediate updates. If you wanna do that. Thank you so so much for supporting me throughout this journey. Your encouragement means so much to me.

I printed the contract out just or show, because I had to get a good pic.

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