Tuesday, June 28, 2016

How I Got My Agent

This is a post that, at my darkest moments, I never thought I would write. 

This is a post that, at my most hopeful moments, I only dreamed about.

But here I am, sitting in front of my computer, fingers clicking away at the keys, a smile on my face, telling you lovely blog readers...


To those of you who are reading this post, jealousy twisting your hearts, I've been where you are. I know. I know how hard it is, how discouraging, how depressing. Especially when reading success stories. 

Don't. You. Dare. Give. Up.

To show you how much I do understand, here's some background information.

I signed with my agent for THESE WICKED WATERS. My fourth book. That's right. I wrote four books and queried three of them (one was a sequel) before I found an agent. I'm talking over 150 query letters and subsequent rejections.

That doesn't even count the queries I sent out for THESE WICKED WATERS. 

(Hint: here comes the actual How I Got My Agent story.)

Back in June 2015, after winning a few contests, I sent 53 query letters for TWW. Of those, I received the following:

Partial Requests: 1
Partial Upgraded to Full: 1
Full Requests: 1
Rejections: 51

...Or so I thought.

The usual policy with agents is that if you don't hear back in four weeks or so, the answer is "no." I'd closed out all my outstanding query letters and retreated from the front lines. I knew TWW was The One. The truth of it resounded in my bones. But I realized it needed work. And maybe my query letter did too.

I let TWW sit. For almost a year. In the meantime I wrote two other books and focused on this blog. Finally, early this year, I came back to TWW and began a massive rewrite that took months.

The day after I finished my overhaul (June 8), an email pinged my inbox. It was an agent, asking to see the full of TWW, from a query I sent a year ago. I did some hurried proofreading and sent off the full a day later, not expecting much. 

Okay, to be honest I was expecting something: A Rejection.

On the evening of June 15 I got another email. I was sitting at my desk at work, eating dinner with my sister. My phone vibrated. I opened the message, already brushing off the "Unfortunately this isn't what we're looking for." 

When my gaze reached the, "I really enjoyed your book" sentence, I leapt out of my chair. I didn't even read the rest of the email! I started squealing, pacing around my--thankfully empty!--office, babbling nonsense while my sister read the rest of the email. Once sufficiently calmed down, I hurried back to my desk and read the message in a daze.

An agent liked my book!

An agent wanted to talk to me!

To me!

I was shaking. I was so happy tears threatened. I was disgustingly sweaty with nerves.
I had no idea what to do with myself. I called my family, told my closest friends. It took me a literal hour to relax enough to think clearly enough to email the agent back.

Things moved quickly at this point. I set up The Call (or so I hoped), accepted her offer of representation, and ok'ed the agent-author contract.

So, now, in as much disbelief as I was when I first got that email, I can say:

Hello. I'm Emily Layne, represented by Becky LeJeune of Bond Literary Agency.

I can't wait to share this process with you guys. This is a phase of the writing world that is brand new to me. I hope we can learn together! Thank you for sticking with me in the querying trenches. Through the ups. And the downs. You're all so wonderful, and I don't deserve you.

Now, how about some help thinking of a new slogan? I'm no longer "a young adult writer braving the slushpile." 

...Am I?

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