Just writing the title of this post kind of gave me all the excitment again. This is the dream post for every writer, right? Everyone wants to write one of these, and I devour them happily from all other writers. There’s nothing like seeing the reward for hard work, and I always wanted to write this one about my journey as well. And imagine this being the first post of 2017! Wheeeeeeeeeeee!
This is definetly not one of those “I got my agent in a week” posts. We always see these kind of stories floating around, and that’s what we all want our journey to be like. Unfortunately, those are reeeeeeeeeeeally uncommon, even though they’re amazing. My own story is one of the regular ones.
For those of you who have been with the blog a while, you know I always talk about different projects and what I’m working on. I wrote some projects in portuguese, but I knew the industry here isn’t really open to new authors. Then I wrote a project in English. Then I wrote another one. Then in April 2015, I wrote FIREBIRD.
FIREBIRD was in many ways the project of my heart. It’s a fantasy based on Russian folklore and myth, that also blends a lot of historical aspects and the building of St. Petersburg. It features a bi MC whose focus isn’t romance, and whose morals are questionable to say the least. It’s got magic, blood, and sister relationship. It’s a book I loved and felt so sure it was going to be marketable.
Except that it didn’t happen. I got requests with my queries, but in the end, almost all ended up being rejections. I edited the book again and again, going through a whole bunch of CPs and beta readers, trying to make the book better, to the point where I arrived in a version I didn’t know what else could be done.
While FIREBIRD was out with CPs for the first round of edits, I traveled to Europe with my sister and stayed for a month in Germany. I didn’t have my laptop with me, but I always missed writing. So I took my notebook and started writing a story in long hand. It was a weird story, one that I wasn’t sure anyone except me would like it, but I didn’t care. I had no one to impress with this, and so I just sat down every day and wrote it.
It was called THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT EARTH, and it’s the story of a Latina who wants to be a pilot when the Earth is invaded by aliens. I’ve always wanted to write an alien invasion story, so I just went with whatever was in my head at the time — gathering a group of unlikely survivors in an empty planet, battered and broken. But people who still wanted to fight.
I’ve always loved sci-fi, but I know it’s not a genre that’s as well-read as fantasy. Just looking at my own list of agents to query that I had compiled, I saw many more people who were interested in fantasy than sci-fi. There was also the matter that my protagonist spoke Spanish and it’s in the narrative, and I definetly didn’t want to take away those elements. In a way, my character in FIREBIRD was more easy to relate to people then THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT EARTH.
So I set the sci-fi aside for a while. I went back to working and querying my Fantasy. I entered PitchWars 2015, but didn’t make it. I started pitching the book on twitter, and it started making its way around the query trenches. I got rejections, went back to revising. I always ended up pushing the sci-fi further back, because it had so many ‘weird’ elements in it — it was post-apocalytptic, it had aliens, it had spaceships.
And while getting rejections, I was working on editing the sci-fi on the background, but always as a second option.
Then June came around, and there was Query Kombat. I’d never done well at contests, but I was picked to move to round 2! And I got requests for my super strange sci-fi! Yay!
I sent in the queries, and more rejection came flying in. But I decided I would try — I loved the sci-fi, I wanted more people to read it. I sent it to my CPs. I edited. I sent it to other CPs. I edited it again. I changed the beginning about eight times, to the point where I was renaming TSAE_final_final_really_final.doc. And then #DVPit came along in October.
I always participated in twitter pitch parties when I could, but I feel like they started getting too crowded over the months, and not a lot of agents were interested. But #DVPit is so great, and it gives so many opportunities to a lot of people. Being a Brazilian whose first language isn’t even English, I felt so welcome there, and met so many great writers with the hashtags.
I got requests, and one that excited me specially. So I sent in my requests and waited.
Got some rejections, and waited some more. Sent more queries. Then on the 16th of December, I received an e-mail from Agent A saying they wanted to talk to me about representation.
I had to read it about three times to make sure I got it right. Then I sent it to a friend ‘THIS IS IT, ISN’T IT?’ because I feel like this is a very logical reaction. Then on Monday, Agent A called me over Skype after we set up a an hour for the call.
That’s an advantage of living overseas, by the way. No surprise calls and have the risk of having a heart attack on the phone.
Agent A was absolutely wonderful. They got my book, they got what I wanted to write about. They loved my MC, Clover. We talked about the ending of Westworld and what we loved about sci-fi and even Gone Girl. I asked a lot of questions, and they answered them, and everything was so clear. I was tempted to accept the offer as soon as the call was over.
But there’s protocol to follow. I e-mailed all the other agents who had my query/manuscript, even some from FIREBIRD, who still hadn’t made its way around yet. This was over the holidays, and it was SO CRAZY that I couldn’t talk to anyone about it on Christmas.
Then Agent B wanted to set up a call. I talked to them, and even though they were super nice, I kept thinking back to Agent A – I had contacted their clients, and got the response I was hoping for. I had two other agents offer me R+R as well, but at the time, I ended up deciding it wasn’t for me either, especially when I knew I had someone who loved TSAE as much as I did.
So when my deadline came around on the 4th of January, I was so glad to answer Agent A back, saying I accepted the offer.
And I’m super excited to announce my agent is Sarah LaPolla over at Bradford Literary!!!!!!! I was so excited talking to Sarah on the phone, and it was so good to hear we agreed on so much, and I knew she was the right person to represent both me and TSAE.
Wrapping it up, I want to remind other querying writers: don’t give up. Feedback and rejection is SO SUBTLE, I can’t tell you that enough. What an agent loves about your MS may be the very reason why someone else rejects it. And don’t forget: agents can’t sign everyone, unless they absolutely LOVE the work. So a rejection doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer. It just means you have to keep trying.
I’m going to leave my query status over here, just to remind you how long this process can be. I sent my first query for FIREBIRD on 9th of September 2015, and got my offer on the 19th of December of 2016. So don’t give up. It takes a long time. And I’m sure you’ll get there.
- Queries sent: 129
- Requests: 22
THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT EARTH
- Queries sent: 47
- Requests: 15
- R+R: 2
- Offers: 2