Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Exciting News!

Phew! I know I’ve been cagey lately, talking about oooohhh my life is soooo busy! but not actually, y’know, explaining stuff. So, let me explain:

Last November, I sent my latest YA manuscript into the great wide querying world. This wasn’t my first time at the rodeo, so I had a few people who knew me and I had my query letter (mostly) down. And I got requests for fulls! Hooray!

So I plugged along, sending out my manuscript in small batches. And more requests! Double hooray! And I got a few rejections (you will always get rejections), but I was happy that, unlike other manuscripts I’d sent out, these rejections didn’t all say the same thing. It made me hopeful that it really was a matter of finding the right person.

Late at night, I’d lay in bed with the husband, talking about my manuscript. “I really think this is the one,” I’d say. “The other two, I wasn’t as certain, but this one I really think will be the one.” I am a terribly superstitious person, the kind of person who never said “When we get married” the whole time we were engaged, just because I was worried I’d say it and the then-fiancé would get hit by a bus.

And I knew there was the possibility that nothing would happen with this one, that it would end up in the drawer like the others. So to say something out loud, even if it was just to the husband in the dark, was a scary thing. But I did really believe, and my husband agreed and held my hand and said what I knew he’d say: “You just have to be a little patient right now.”

So I was patient, I sent out more queries, I responded back to agents asking for fulls, I started working on the next thing (because you always need a next thing). Right before I left Chicago for Christmas vacation, I got a request for a revise & resubmit. I’ve gotten these before, and sometimes the suggestions are just totally off from what I had in mind for the book, but I was thrilled that these revisions were smart, sharp, and absolutely good directions for the manuscript to go in. Excitement renewed!

I spent the whole two weeks on the East Coast thinking about the revisions, not writing anything (because I promised this wasn’t going to be a working vacation), and by the time I got back to Chicago, I was like a fiend. I know you aren’t supposed to rush revisions, but I couldn’t stop myself—I wrote way past my usual “close the laptop” time of 5pm and found myself working late at night, late on Saturday nights, early on Sunday mornings. It was awesome, I was thrilled.

The revisions finally went out, after getting a quick thumbs-up from one of my awesome critique partners, and I played the waiting game, again. It was while waiting that I got an email from another agent late on a Saturday night, saying she loved the book and could we talk Monday? Commence 36-hour freak-out, during which I panic-sweated through every t-shirt I owned and had my very first stress dream about writing.*

She called, I tried to not to squeak over the phone, and somewhere during the conversation she offered representation. I think I was so stunned that I didn’t even hear her properly. If she hadn’t sent me an email a few seconds later, repeating her offer, I probably would have called her up again to say “Is this real life?”

Next step was letting other agents know what was going on. I fully expected most of them to say thanks but no thanks, so color me surprised when the majority stayed in the game. Pretty soon, I had another offer, and then another. Six offers in all, which is just pretty much the definition of crazy.

And then, ugh, the waiting. And the debating. Anyone within in ten-foot-radius of me during the past week had to sit and listen to me go on (and on and on) about this agent versus that one. I sent pages-long emails to my infinitely patient crit partners and family. The husband became very good at nodding along to whatever I said.

Because really, the choosing got really tough. I always thought people who had a bunch of offers were sort of #humblebrag-ging to complain, but when you meet a bunch of people who love your writing and believe in you, it’s really hard to compare and contrast. I pretty much stopped sleeping and started getting stress hives.** I was a wreck during the day, exhausted and headachey and in a state of suspended animation. I’d watch The Bachelor and think *sniff* “I totally get you, bro.”***

But in the end, there was always someone in the back of my mind, and although it was really tough to let go of the amazing agents who loved my stuff, I kept thinking of the advice a writer friend gave me, to focus instead on how amazing/happy/exciting it would be to go from “querying writer” to “represented writer.”

So, this whole long story does finally have an end, which is that I am beyond thrilled to announce that I’m now represented by Sara Crowe at Harvey Klinger, Inc!

Sara was always a dream agent of mine, she was the first to offer representation, and it didn’t hurt that she’s also the agent of one of my best writing friends, Elizabeth Fama, who had reams of positive things to say about her. I am so, so excited to start working with her and start this next crazy, wonderful chapter of my writing life!****

*Somehow, my manuscript had gotten submitted to a SCBWI-type conference, where it was named “The Worst Thing I’ve Read This Year” by a panel made up of agents and editors. I had to stand up and listen to them calmly tell me everything that was wrong about my manuscript. Later, when I told the husband, he said “Why would they even have that award?”
**Hey! Haven’t seen those guys since I was wedding planning!
***At some point during this whole thing I started fever-dreaming of a Bachelor: Writers Edition. Wouldn’t this be so much more fun if everyone had to wear trashy dresses, pouf up their hair, and throw chardonnay at their rivals? I could hand out roses and then Chris Harrison would emerge, all dapper and witty, and say “Agents, this is the final rose of the evening. Kendall, anytime you’re ready.”
****True story! My night went: call Sara and accept offer-->write happy emails to friends/family-->sit down with husband with glass of wine to watch State of the Union-->faceplant on couch-->pass out-->wake up 11 hours later. I guess I was exhausted?


  1. Yay!
    My writer brain is cheering because you picked Sara (and I'm not surprised to hear she was the original person to offer)!

    My 5th grade teacher brain is wondering if I should use our correspondence as an example of persuasive writing for my class. Ya know, with all the details and names stripped out. Real life example ...

    (Living a double life is exhausting.)

  2. Congratulations! Glad you survived that process :)

  3. Congratulations! I can't wait to follow the progress of your book!

    Sara seems pretty stellar from everything I've seen of her. Maybe you'll get to write a cool post for her blog? Can't wait to read you there!

  4. Yeehaw, Kendall! Can't wait to read this glorious novel in hardcover!