As writers in an unpredictable industry, we’re told to expect the unexpected. I know, it’s easy for me to say. But sometimes the unexpected has a way of sneaking up behind you and whacking you upside the head. And then it’s not so easy.
A few weeks ago, my agent told me she couldn’t represent me anymore. As it turns out, she had decided to take her career in a new direction. As someone who has changed careers, I know it happens sometimes. I still love her dearly, and I wish her all the best in the world. *But what’s going to happen to me* I screamed inside my head. Not unlike a six-year-old.
Hanging up the phone, I felt like I was freefalling. It had taken 67 queries and 10 months of inbox-refreshing anxiety before I signed with her. I dreaded the thought of starting over from scratch.
The Unexpected had practically knocked me down the stairs.
My former agent gave me some suggestions. She said I should query my middle grade novel. WHA?? Not my precious? Not the “It took me five years to write” first novel? The one she had signed me for?
To prove that I was okay, that I wasn’t devastated. that I was going to make it, I shot off a couple of queries that night. You guessed it. For the middle grade.
The quirky, wrote-it-for-fun middle grade fantasy.
To my immense surprise, two days later, I had two full requests. TWO. And then my former agent gave me a handful of referrals for agents she knew were looking for middle grade (I told you I loved her!)
A month into the querying process, the holidays were looming. In four weeks, I’d sent 20 queries. I had 7 full requests, and a few passes. But nothing solid. People liked the query, but I had no idea if they'd think the writing was as good.
Then, five weeks after the split; the day before my birthday; the week before Christmas, I had a request for a call in my inbox. As in, THE CALL. To talk about representation.
You might think that the second time around, one might take it in stride. Be less nervous. At least remember to ask all the questions. You'd be wrong. It's just as exhilarating. And you sound just as stupid. At least I did. Thankfully, Tara didn't seem to notice.
Many of you have seen my announcement. I’m now officially represented by Tara Gonzalez and Pam van Hylckama Vlieg of Larsen Pomada Literary Agents. It took less than eight weeks in total. Twenty query letters sent. Seven full requests. That’s 32% request rate. My original request rate for my first agent was a paltry 16% for the Young Adult.
No lie, I would NOT have queried the middle grade had my former agent not suggested it. I’d written it for fun and sent it to her for kicks. I believed my YA was the breakout MS. My debut.
I needed to have someone hit me upside the head to see that the middle grade was worth querying.
I’m getting to the point here, I promise.
- The unexpected may seem like the end of the world when it rears its ugly head, but it’s really just opportunity knocking. Open the door when it does.
- Sometimes you have to listen to advice around you and go against your instinct.
- Never give up—you never know when opportunity is right around the corner.
- Don’t let the unexpected knock you down the stairs. Get up, dust off, and get back in the game.
- Talk in clichés, the kids love it. :)
I’m happily working with my new agents on revisions for the quirky little middle grade. I still have no idea what’s around the corner. No idea if any editor is going to like it. But I’m ready for anything! I’m still hoping the YA will have its day, but for now, it’s resting quietly.
I hope that you’re all going to want to keep me around these parts, now that I’m working on middle grade…
Happy New Year, everyone!