The title of this post originally comes from a hashtag I tweeted last Thursday, and IT STILL APPLIES. I've decided that the only way for this post to accurately reflect my feelings is with the help of pictures. I feel that at this time words fail me. But I did write a post two years ago called Catching the Sun about finally finishing the first draft of Shatter (The Children of Man, #1), and it does capture the same feelings I'm experiencing now fairly articulately. So, if you want the articulate, pretty version read that. If you want the rambling, raw emotion, READ ON.
I will tell you the story, but I want to get THE announcement out of the way. So, here goes. As of Thursday, I am now represented by Joe Monti, an agent from Barry Goldblatt Literary. Yeah. That's right. I HAVE AN AGENT, AND HE'S AWESOME. Let it sink in. 'Cause it hasn't for me yet. At all.
|This is me when I think about it, which is ALL THE TIME.|
So, this is my story of how I go to that stupefied expression. I never really intended to self-publish. It kind of just happened. I know, you're wondering how in the world that works, but it's the truth. In 2009 I won NaNoWriMo* for the first time, and one of the prizes was a free proof copy of your novel. I finished up the first draft of Shatter in December and spent the winter and spring editing and revising. When I ordered my proof copy, Shatter was posted on amazon.com for sale. That kind of blew my mind that my story was out there for people to purchase. And it freaked me out, because it had SO MANY copy errors. It wasn't until my friend Randy Lalonde, who happens to be an indie author, encouraged me to offer Shatter as as e-book did I decide to really give it a try. I figured I didn't have anything to lose by trying, right? That was June 2010.
About a month into releasing the e-book of Shatter, I decided to offer it for free. I saw a big uptick in my downloads at that point and good reviews started trickling in. In October, amazon price matched Shatter and offered it for free. In that first month, I saw 25,000+ downloads of Shatter. I was starting to really get excited about self-publishing.
In November when I released Render, I was really happy about where I was with self-publishing. At this point, Shatter has been downloaded or purchased over 205,000 times, and Render is closing in on 4,000. (See earlier picture for my response to those numbers.) My only regret has been that I don't have the kind of editorial team behind me that traditional publishing offers that could push me to be a better writer and make my stories the best they can be.
Amidst my happiness surrounding Render's release, I was contacted regarding my books. I can't go into the details of any of it, but it raised questions that I was ill-equipped to handle about publishing. Now here comes the entertaining part of this tale. I have a friend who I've played World of Warcraft with for at least five years. Though he's definitely Barry, he'll always be Tia, which is a shortened form of his original character's name in game. (Sorry, you won't be able to find our server, guild, or characters from that info. ^.^) We raided and instanced and goofed off on vent for months before I discovered what he did for a living.
One week, Tia had to call off for raid, because he was going to LA. When we asked him what the trip was for, he informed us that he was going to a movie premiere of a client's book, "The Spiderwick Chronicles." (See previous picture for my reaction. I look confused a lot apparently.) My friend Tia is Barry Goldblatt, rockstar kids & YA literary agent, husband of Printz award-winner Libba Bray, agent of Cassandra Clare, Holly Black, Michelle Hodkin, and the list just goes on to more awesome. But he was still just my friend Tia, WHO GAVE AWESOME BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS. I mean, seriously, the stuff I've read because of him.
I do want to be clear that I never once tried to use him or his connections in this process. He's my friend, first and foremost. But when I was contacted about my books in November, I had a lot of questions and really needed some guidance. So naturally I turned to him for help. And because Barry is Barry, he offered his wisdom, advice, and enthusiasm without hesitation. It was at this point that I decided I should start looking for an agent to represent me, and I asked Barry for a list of which agents I should contact and how to go about doing so, because my circumstances would not fit your typical query. In the end, he recommended that I send my MSS to Joe Monti.
I sent the MSS for both Shatter and Render over Thanksgiving. Joe got back to me two weeks ago, and we scheduled a phone conversation for last Thursday. Now, you need to understand that I am a realist who wishes I could be an idealist. I always prepare myself for the worst and hope for the best. In preparation for the phone call, I thought what the worst case scenario could be. So I told myself that Joe could have scheduled this phone call to impress upon me just how BAD my writing was, and that it was his duty to Literature and Storytelling and Humanity to convince me to do ANYTHING else.
|I wanted to avoid this.|
So, Joe and I talked on Thursday. The conversation meandered as we got to know each other, which gave me hope that this wasn't the PLEASE-NEVER-WRITE-AGAIN phone call. We talked about my goals for my writing and constructive critique, and we seemed to be on the same page. We both wanted to take my work into traditional publishing. After all that, he told me that he wasn't talking to me as a favor to Barry, but that he was genuinely excited about my work and its potential.
Then he said that he'd love to represent me.
|I went from this.|
|To lobotomized by joy|
And I said that I'd love for him to represent me. Not just because he is a successful literary agent offering to represent me, but through the course of the conversation I just really liked who Joe was. He laughs a lot, and I appreciate that so much. Also, he works with Barry, and I trust Barry's judgment. I mean really, this man has never steered me wrong, whether its books or food. PUGs on the other hand... *snickers* Love you, Barry! Okay. Tangent time. If you ever see a restaurant recommendation from Barry on twitter, and you're in the same city as the restaurant, GO THERE IMMEDIATELY. I mean, seriously, I don't care what you're doing. Even if you're already eating. Stop and go where he's suggested.
So that's my big secret! I am now represented by a very reputable literary agency and agent extraordinaire. I have to admit I'm a little starstruck about the other authors who are represented by my agency. MY AGENCY, GOOD GRAVY. I just hope I can restrain myself from fangirl-ing all over people... *gazes as non-psychotically as possible at Cassie Clare and Holly Black*
This choice has consequences though. It does mean that I won't be self-publishing Forge. The goal for The Children of Man series is to rework Shatter and Render and get them ready to submit to traditional publishers. This is the route I really want to take the series, because I am SO excited about having a creative team to push me to be the best writer I can be. And these stories and characters deserve to be told in the best way possible, and traditional publishing has the resources to help me achieve that.
This also means that I have no time frame for how long it will take for the series to find a publisher and once that happens for the third book to be released. I just hope that you'll stick with me through this process and be patient, because the end result will be even better than the stories are now.
I have an agent? I HAVE AN AGENT.
*National Novel Writing Month is when you try to write 50,000 words in 30 days. I did it in 2009 and 2010 and won both times. It's a GREAT tool for discipling yourself as a writer. I recommend it for all aspiring writers.