Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Why Yes, I DO Have an Agent

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.

30 comments:

Creepy Query Girl said...

Congratulations! What a dream come true!

Anna Banks said...

Sarah Freaking LaPolla!?! Curtis Freaking Brown!?! Ha ha, could go on, but I think you're sensing the trend here. Congrats to you both. I'm sooo excited to follow you on this journey. Yay! :)

Mandie Baxter said...

So so happy for you! Excited to one day read your books! :) I think Sarah is perfect for you.

KO: The Insect Collector said...

It seems like the perfect match! Whoo- hoo! And any story with a John Waters reference is a win. :0)

J. A. Bennett said...

Oh my goodness! This is fabulous news! So so happy for you. To top it off, I gave you a couple of awards on my blog :)

Xandra James said...

Congratulations! It was well worth the kerfuffle if you got there in the end :) x

Tara Tyler said...

i envy you your dramatic bachelorette experience!
way to go and many happy reviews!

Laura Kaye said...

How wonderful, Christa! Many congratulations!

Lola Sharp said...

Well, I've already said CONGRATS and tossed confetti and popped the cork and bubbly'd and stuff for you...but still: CONGRATS!!!! I am sincerely excited for you! :D They all should have been fighting to get you on their client list.

Dude, I love how you told this (again, as only YOU could tell it), though it must have taken forever to link this puppy all up.

Also, I happen to love the word kerfuffle. The fuffle part makes me giddy for some reason.

Also part deux, I am a big freaky fan of all things 80s and weird and cheesy...and John Waters FTW.

May both books create a feeding frenzy, sell at auction, sell movie rights and you live happily ever after, love. ♡

Love and huggles,
Lola

Stephanie said...

So awesome how it all came together! Congrats!

The East Coaster said...

Reason #2342 why you rock so hard. Wooohooo! Now that all the contract reviewing is over, relax and enjoy the moment. You're a brilliant writer and I can't wait to see all the good stuff ahead for you.

Heather said...

Whoo hoo! I'm so, so happy for you! *crazy happy dance* The two of you will make a dynamite pair and I have no doubt your novel will sell quick!

Tiffany Garner said...

Great story! Congratulations! Proof that you should never give up on a story if it's one you love (as long as you're willing to overhaul it :D)

Aubrie said...

Congrats, Christa!! I'm so happy for you!

E.R. King said...

Yay! So happy for you! I'm doing cartwheels!!!!

Talli Roland said...

What a FANTASTIC story - loads and loads of congratulations! It's great to have choice but you're right: choosing is so hard. I hope you're celebrating! Hugs!

Lori M. Lee said...

Congrats! I actually saw Sarah's tweet yesterday so I knew this was coming, bwhaha. I can't wait to see your book in print! :D

Jenna Cooper said...

Congratulations! That's so awesome!!! I'm doing happy dances for you! :D

Monica B.W. said...

OMGOMGOMGOMG!!! CONGRATULATIONS!! I'm so very happy for you!!
But can I just say I'm not surprised? I knew you'd land an agent sooner rather than later! SQUEE! <3

Alexis Bass Writes said...

AH! Congratulations! From what I’ve read on your blog, both of your stories (first novel or not) sound extremely compelling. Compelling as in: why can’t I buy this book already? :) Once again, I call dibs on an arc!

Callie Kingston said...

Big congrats!

Marie Rearden said...

Congratulations!!!!!!!! There just aren't enough exclamation points. So super proud of you! Enjoy it. Hope it's me some day. Again, a huge congrats!!!
Marie at the Cheetah

Lucy V Morgan said...

I am still doing the dance of joy. I have tonsilitis, so I even sound like a Pilean.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Congrats, Christa! Wow, that must have been intense having The Call with several agents while attending SCBWI LA.

I know what you mean about saying no to an agent. I've been there. I felt bad that I sounded like I was sending out a form rejection. I don't know how agents do it.

erica and christy said...

OMG!!! I'm so glad I broke my blog-hiatus rule this week!! SO SO SO excited for you!!!!!!!!!!
erica

AliyaPM said...

Oh wow, congratulations, Christa! That is amazing and exciting and I am so happy for you!

Zan Marie said...

Congrats! Confetti! Champagne, or beer, or scotch! Whatever you want, Christa!

Angelica R. Jackson said...

Wow, what an epic saga! Still, it must have been a great "They like me, they really like me" moment. Good for you for sticking with Manhole, also (I went and read your post on that).

The Golden Eagle said...

Congratulations! :)

A.L. Sonnichsen said...

Christa, I am so completely thrilled for you! Congratulations! I can't wait to read these!!

Amy