Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My Path to Getting an Agent Pt. 5

Phwew, are you still there? Betchya didn't realize what you were signing up for when you asked me to tell you about my path to getting an agent, did you? Well, for those of you bravely continuing to read, let's continue.

So, I have a full out with an amazing agent when we last left off. After about a month and a half (I don't remember exactly anymore), she responded to it and let me know that she loved it, but just not enough. However, she gave me a bunch of notes and said if I was willing to revise it, she'd be happy to read it again. At first I will admit I was dismayed that it wasn't a big, huge YES. But, then after talking to Julie and taking a few deep breaths, I realized what an amazing opportunity this was. I spent about a month tearing my manuscript apart and revising it. I even found a great writer's conference at BYU and signed up for it, hoping to get some more feedback on it and meet more people in the industry. I met some amazing people at that conference, including my morning class that ended up becoming a critique group for a while. We've since split up because it was just too big, but we still get together quarterly for BBQs. All those ladies are so wonderful and fun!

I also became good friends with one of the nicest, most genuinely sweet and humble people I've ever known, Ally Condie; and I got to learn at the hysterical and wise feet of our morning class teacher, Janette Rallison (whom I also am lucky to count as a friend). I learned so much at that conference, met such wonderful people, and am so grateful I went.

Then... I waited for another month to hear back from the agent after I resubmitted my manuscript. I got a couple more requests for partials in the meantime from some great agents. I was feeling pretty confident. For reals this time. This. Was. It.

And then they all rejected HIDDEN. All of them said about the same thing, they loved the writing, the characters were wonderful and so real, the plot was intriguing, etc. But they just didn't love it enough to offer representation. I really grew to hate the word "enough" over the next few months. My rejection letters had evolved into reading like an acceptance letter, until you got to the part where two little words "didn't" and "enough" got shoved in before and after "love it." Ugh.

This was a really low time for me. I seriously thought about giving up. But even at my worst moments, I knew deep down that I couldn't. As much as I wanted to sometimes, I just knew I couldn't give up. I was determined to make it. I would send out more queries, and got more requests (some partials, some fulls) and kept getting the same responses. Ally joked that she'd never seen such nice rejections before--and so many of them, too! That was funny, but unfortunately it was also small comfort, since they were still ultimately rejections. And what do you do with nice rejections anyway? There's nothing to work on, or revise, or change.

After talking with her, my other friends and family, and Janette, I finally came to the realization that after two YEARS of querying HIDDEN, maybe I needed to step back and try something else. It broke my heart to give up on Gareth and Ava, but I was running out of options. I wanted to fight it, but the truth was staring me in the face. I had to write a new book if I wanted to keep pursuing getting an agent. I still had a few more hopes for HIDDEN left to try before I shelved it for good, but in the meantime, I began working on a new book, a completely different story with a totally different narrator. Ethnie started whispering to me, and grabbed my full attention in a very short time. IMPACT (as it was titled then) took me over three months to write (which was VERY slow for me), but it came out very clean. All my other hopes for HIDDEN had by now been squashed (yay for more incredibly nice rejections), and so, with the encouragement of my CPs and everyone else who read IMPACT, I decided to start over at the top of my agent list with my shiny, new book. By this time it was October/November 2009. With renewed hope and confidence, I sent out my first wave of queries.

My hope is to finish up this story in the next post (we'll see if I can do it!), so make sure and come back for the exciting conclusion. PLUS as a reward for sticking with me through this long and arduous retelling of my journey, I am going to have a fun contest. So stay tuned for that!


Caroline Starr Rose said...

The whole journey is pretty amazing, isn't it? I look forward to reading your last post!

Lyla said...

I can't imagine how it must feel to have to put a favorite manuscript aside :/ But now I'm all excited about this new one you're mentioning! *bites nails, waiting for final post*

Carolyn V. said...

Love the story Sara. =) Jeanette and Ally are both awesome. What an amazing group we were in! Good luck with the book. =)

ali cross said...

Hi Sara! I'm glad you haven't given up on your story! I'm gonna go catch up on it myself!

lisa and laura said...

LOVED reading your story Sara! CONGRATULATIONS!