Thursday, April 15, 2010

Agented! What?!

The past week has been absolutely CRAZY for me. Some of you may know that I've been querying my contemporary/literary/I-don't-even-know-anymore YA novel, SKYLAR'S STORY since January. Before that, I was querying my YA UF My Name is Death from October to December, and before that I was querying an earlier reincarnation of My Name is Death called "The Outlook is Bleak" around March of last year, and before that...

Well, you get the idea.

I've been querying for a long time. On and off since I was fifteen, basically -- that's TWO YEARS, people. Two years in the query trenches. I'm amazed I made it out alive, haha.

Anyway, the reason this past week has been crazy for me is because all that hard querying work paid off. I received not one, but three offers of representation on SKYLAR'S STORY. And I was faced with what was one of the toughest decisions of my life (Granted, I don't really make tough decisions too often. The toughest choice I make on a daily level is whether to get KFC or Pizza Hut at the foodcourt after school. But still).

My decision was made five hundred million times harder by the fact that two of the three offering agents had sent me revisions prior to offering representation. So I knew they were both awesome, and I knew they both had a great editorial eye. The other agent? Well she was just really enthusiastic about my book (they all were), which also made things hard.

I agonised, seriously, between these agents. Especially the two who'd sent revisions (and made a lot of the same suggestions). I mean, my book owed them, you know? In the end, I decided to go with my gut feeling and accepted an offer of representation from the absolutely wonderful Ammi-Joan Paquette at the Erin Murphy Literary Agency.

The story of how I signed with Joan is actually quite an interesting one. It begins with the story of my birth...Just kidding, I won't give you my life story (or maybe I will, and you're just spared for the day? Be afraid, guys). But anyway, in January of this year when I was just starting to query I entered a contest over at the wonderful Authoress' Miss Snark's First Victim blog. Secret Agent contests basically involve writers submitting the first 250 words which are then read and evaluated by a secret agent judge -- there's one going on now, you should check it out if you haven't already.

The agent for the month of January was...drumroll...Ammi-Joan Paquette.

I won the Secret Agent Contest, and my prize was submission of a full and a twenty-five page critique. So I sent in my materials, went on my merry way and didn't think too much about it (Okay, no, I'm not a freak of nature. I obsessed and thought about the submissions I was making ALL THE TIME. And I ate ice cream to deal with slow response times, because I am a cliche), and after a couple of weeks I got this AWESOME critique telling me exactly what was wrong with these opening pages.

I read over the comments and realised that the issues picked up were ones that affected not only this section, but THE ENTIRE book. So I was obviously panicking -- books are babies, and I'd just realised MY BABY was broken. Ahem. -- but then I realised it was okay, because I could fix this and there were some great suggestions as to HOW to do this that really resonated with me. So I looked over the entire manuscript and started fixing things scene by scene by scene.

I basically spent the next month or so revising and fusing together various responses and feedback I'd gotten on SKYLAR'S STORY, some of which were also really awesome and detailed and amazing ( though I must admit, I ignored the feedback that told me a) my voice was too young for a sixteen-year-old and b) my voice was too old for a sixteen-year-old, but I had good grounds for doing this. I mean, I was sixteen when I wrote the manuscript. Surely I'd have a decent handle on what people like me sounded like???? Besides, it was conflicting advice -- I usually toss conflicting advice). And during this time I became one of those really, really annoying people who enjoy revising. Truly. I get excited about revisions now, no shit.

Anyway, sometime near the end of March, I sent Joan my finished-revised awesome new version of SKYLAR'S STORY. And sometime near the beginning of April she got back to me with an email saying she loved it...The word "phenomenal" in relation to MY work really stuck out to me in that email. And then I told her I'd received another offer and she called me like five minutes later and I didn't know what to say because I hadn't expected anyone to call me.

Also, because I am afraid of phone calls (to an extent -- I used to be really bad, but then I did a week of work experience at HarperCollins and I wound up phoning every single radio station in the country...So that kinda cured me). So I kind of laughed like the stupid school girl I am while Joan answered a whole bunch of questions I SHOULD have been asking but wasn't (because I was too stupefied). I sent a few more follow up questions via email to her and the other interested agents, and this morning, I made my choice.

It was a hard choice, but I think I made a good one. I am SO OMG-happy-happy-happy right now, it's unbelievable.I've printed and signed the contract, and will be sending it off later today (yay!) and then there are more revisions in store (yay)and then submission (HOLY SHIT) and then final exams for my final year of high school (Oh, wait, that's not so exciting...)

So anyway, I owe one to Authoress over at Miss Snark's First Victim for holding those Secret Agent Contests, because I wouldn't have been able to submit to Joan otherwise. Her agency doesn't take unsolicited submissions. And I owe one to everyone who beta'd for me (a significant number of people reading this blog -- choco (dude, what would I do without you?), Amna, Margo, Vero, thank you. And I'm so freaking happy.

And I really have nothing else to say. Thanks for bearing with me, guys.