Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Darkest Before The Dawn

Last we spoke, I was busy shaking up my personal snowglobe and making a few changes, but I didn't really get into what they were. But the truth is, what was really happening is I was digging deep. I had to sit with myself and figure out how badly I wanted this writing dream, how much I believed in myself and my work, and my ability to find the right connection with someone who could help me get the other half of the way there. So I made a really scary decision. I decided to leave my then agent and start from ground zero with my shiny new project, querying all over again. Leaving your agent when you are unpublished in search of a new one is absolutely terrifying, I'm not gonna lie. You've worked so hard just to get them in the first place, and then you choose to walk away? But it's a partnership, and sometimes, like in other types of partnerships, one person or the other needs change.

I started querying. At first 5-10, then another few, and eventually I just threw a whole bunch of them out there, because what exactly was I waiting for, really? Querying takes forever, sometimes months until you can hear back, and I already felt like I'd wasted a lot of precious time. Several writer friends offered up referrals to agents they knew, as well as their own. And within 72 hours of starting to query, I had amassed 11 full requests and 2 partials. It went like this, up and down, over the course of the next two and a half months. One would reject, and just as quickly, another would request. And suddenly names were showing up in my inbox that I couldn't believe were requesting my book.

But despite the constant amount of requests (by the end I'd had an amazing 26 full requests and 4 partials and then 3 more full requests when I pulled the query from people who wanted to know if they could still see it and throw their hat in the ring), a funny thing hapened. Self doubt started to creep in. Crazy, right? So much interest, so much activity, but yet also so much silence. It was deafening. Because if you work in publishing or if you are a writer, you know that this business moves at a snail's pace, and it is not at all uncommon to wait months until you hear back from agents or editors on a manuscript. And I'm not gonna lie: I'm an impatient girl. It's like I was sinking deeper and deeper into some sort of emotional quicksand, until it felt like it could envelop me whole, feeling like maybe despite all this interest, they will all come back no. My writer friends tried to boost me up, to reassure me this kind of attention was unusual and something had to happen, but I'd crossed a threshhold of sorts in that silence where I had started to lose faith. And the one piece that kept me going was a nugget from my friend Nadine, who said to me with each rejection, "If that train doesn't stop at your station, it was never your train."

And then, the morning after the worst day, the one where I just kept hitting refresh on my inbox to the point of carpal tunnel syndrome, it happened. I woke up and had an email from my top choice agent, Leigh Feldman, asking if I could talk at some point this week. Surely she must have mixed me up with someone else. I'd only sent her the full manuscript 5 days prior and now here she was, wanting to talk. Because agents don't usually call you unless they are actually interested. And frankly, until I talked to her on the phone and she mentioned the title of my book, I was not entirely unconvinced she'd mixed me up with someone else and written to me by mistake.

Once she offered, I had to send out Offer of Representation letters to the 16 remaining agents who had the full at that time and also the 3 with partials, plus all who had the query so they would not waste time reading it. As I said, a few more wrote back with interest, a partial was upgraded to a full, and thus began the most crazy insane week of my life. Fast forward to say that it concluded with three offers of representation from three equally unbelievable agents, any of whom would have been absolutely incredible to work with and were so passionate about the project. Ultimately, I chose Leigh. My admiration of Leigh goes way back to when I queried my first novel BAND GEEK. Plus, she was the first to offer, which does mean something in my book when someone reads and knows they love something. She's so sharp, and has such great enthusiasm and vision and to be honest, as I told her, she had me at hello.

I feel incredibly blessed, and despite how unbearably painful it was to feel at the time, I'm even thankful for the lowest moments. They serve as a constant reminder that everything can change overnight, and that there's truth to that old saying "It's darkest before the dawn."

3 comments:

Dawn Simon said...

I'm happy for you! Congratulations to you and Leigh! :)

Robin Reul said...

Thank you!!

Matthew MacNish said...

HUGE CONGRATS, Robin! It's always great to see a friend achieve that next step.

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