After four years of querying, hundreds of rejections, and countless moments of almost giving up, I’ve signed with a literary agent!
Even as I type the words, I can still hardly believe them. I submitted my middle grade manuscript to Erzsi Deak on the one day in a blue moon she opens to queries, and she responded within hours. I braced myself for a form rejection. Instead, she said she loved my first pages and wanted to read more. It wasn’t the first full request I’d received, but I could tell right away that it was different. Within three days, she made me an offer and we had “the call.” Our conversation solidified what I’d instinctively known – that she’s the right person to champion my book. Erzsi shares my vision for the story and matches – maybe even exceeds – my enthusiasm for it. I didn’t hesitate to sign on the dotted line.
The days that followed were a bit of a shock to the system. After years of nothing happening, suddenly things were moving quickly. I had to provide Erzsi with information – bios, pitches, photographs – most of which I didn’t have ready. I shifted from researching agent wishlists to learning about different editors and publishing houses. And, of course, I dove into revisions of the manuscript that had gotten me an agent in the first place, to get it submission-ready. In between all of the above, I drank Prosecco with my husband, shared the good news with friends, family, and critique partners, and shamelessly snuck the words “my agent…” into every other sentence.
Now I find myself – mind-bogglingly – out “on sub.” It’s really not that different from querying, but with one massive exception: someone else is handling all the gory details. Erzsi maintains a spreadsheet very similar to the one I kept until recently, with lists of editors, dates, responses, and notes. I have access to it, but I’ve vowed not to look (and have been mostly successful). Being separated from that part of the process has been a game-changer – for both my writing and for my mental health.
Traditional publication has been the goal for a while now, and by signing with an agent, I’ve moved one step closer. Yet, even as my manuscript goes out to publishers, that goal still feels surreal and unattainable to me. Weirdly, when I think about this milestone in my writing career, I don’t think, “Now I can finally get published!” I think, “Now I can keep writing!” Getting an agent has given me a renewed focus on the thing that led me here – the work. That’s partly because I’m no longer spending my writing time trying to land an agent, but it’s more than that, too. I’ve got someone in the industry rooting for me now, who believes in my writing. It doesn’t guarantee that I’ll sell books or make money at this, but it’s a pretty good feeling, one that has motivated me to keep going. And definitely one worth waiting for.