In 1981, John Waters wrote and directed the film Polyester wherein he introduced audiences to "odorama" and provided each of them with scratch and sniff cards at the movie theaters. It was a hilarious concept and would have been really effective if I had actually seen it in the theater. But I watched it at home with no card and random numbers flashing on the screen every few minutes. It was still hilarious.
So as I write my "how I got my agent" story, I am going to provide you all with hot links to the things that helped me in the journey. And you can click on them or not. Sniff the card. Don't sniff the card. Your call.
As some of you know, I started writing my first novel GESTAPO about 18 months ago. And I finished it this past January. Er, sort of. Many, many people read it and gave me suggestions for how to fix it. And it did pretty well as far as things go. I entered it in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest and was a quarter finalist. I won some query and pitch contests with it. But still, it wasn't quite right. Because it was a first novel. Everyone tells you to trunk your first novel. Agents say it all the time. And they are right. The problem with trunking GESTAPO: my premise was compelling and it stinks to trunk great premises.
So I let my dear friend and mentor Heather Howland take a look at it and she tore it apart in the best possible way. All writers should have a Heather Howland in their lives. And because of all the revising I did after Heather's feedback, I started to get full requests on it.
Then I waited. Then I got a revise and resubmit request on GESTAPO. And then I waited some more. And in the meantime, I participated in this Testimonial Writing Workshop with the Voices and Faces Project. And while I was there, I figured out the next book I wanted to write. And I wrote it because I had to write it. It's called MANHOLE and when I first started it, I called it the book that would never be published. And many people offered to read that one too and gave me great suggestions for fixing it.
Then Deana Barnhart had this "Gearin' Up To Get An Agent" blogfest in July. And I put my query letter for MANHOLE up there because I had decided maybe I should trunk GESTAPO after all (yes, a few agents still had it but they'd now had it for almost 3 months). And I thought the query feedback went pretty well. So I sent the MANHOLE query letter out to five agents. Five agents who I know love dark YA. And who maybe wouldn't think MANHOLE was unpublishable.
And three days later, one of the agents who had GESTAPO called me to offer for it. Because, you know, that's how timing works. So I had to contact the agents who had the MANHOLE query and tell them I had an offer. And as you can only imagine, it was like Dr. Seuss's THE SNEETCHES because now two different books were in play and it was a big fat kerfuffle. (Off again, on again, in again, out again, through the machines they raced round and about again!). I ended up with four offers of representation. And yes, I had some of those phone calls while trying to attend the SCBWI conference in LA. Thank goodness for my CP Carrie who was there to talk it all out with me.
And not everyone will tell you this, but the whole decision making process is super exciting and ragingly hard. I mean really hard. And even when you absolutely know the right one, it is sort of painful telling the other ones "no." Because they were all right for some reasons, but "the one" is right for ALL the reasons.
Which brings me to my "right one"...the absolutely, utterly fabulous Sarah LaPolla of Curtis Brown LTD. My dark, edgy, feminist writer self couldn't be happier.
And for those of you who want to know my stats, I don't have the first clue. The funny two-book kerfuffle blew all of my query tracking out of the water.