Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Did I Mention I've Got An....

Did I mention I've got an agent? No? Huh. Silly me. Must have slipped my mind...

OMG, OMG, OMG, OMG, OMG, OMG!!!!!! I'VE GOT AN AGENT!!!!!!!

Yes, it's happened - that life-changing phone call that well, changes your life.

First of all, let me introduce you to the most amazing agent on the planet: the lovely and talented Ms. Bernadette Baker-Baughman of Baker's Mark Literary Agency.*** Why is she so amazing?

1) Because she just is;

2) Because she "gets" my work, sees the potential, and has big plans for it, me, and us.

This story - "our" story - is somewhat unusual so, I thought I'd share it with you.

Once upon a time, there was a novel called, "SPARKS FLY SOMETIMES: CONFESSIONS OF A ROCK PRINCESS." (Yup, that's me "back in the day.") I've given the tag line before, but here it is again:

Life as a rock princess in the Denver music scene does nothing to prepare Jenny for life as a domestic goddess in the suburbs of Philly.

I love this book with all my heart, and I queried it widely. By "widely" I mean in the neighborhood of 150 queries. I received some requests for partials and even a few for fulls. BTW, one of the form rejections I got was from an agency called Baker's Mark Literary Agency.

Though I got interest, I didn't get any requests for representation. So, what did I do? I kept writing.

Next up: MURDER ON TWILIGHT CIRCLE. I always wanted to write a fun mystery and had a ball writing this. I queried widely again, in the neighborhood of 150 queries. This time, I got a lot more interest. 17 partial requests and 8 full requests. Ah. Now we were getting somewhere! Oh, and btw? One of the form rejections I received was from an agency called Baker's Mark Literary Agency.

Stats on MTC:
158 queries sent; 82 no response; 51 passes; 25 requests

Then a miracle happened. Through the magic that is Twitter, I received an e-mail. It was from a certain Bernadette Baker-Baughman from Baker's Mark Literary Agency. Here's a portion of the e-mail:

Hi Debra,

Bernadette here of Baker’s Mark Literary Agency. I just saw your funny reply to our twitter correspondence about author queries and I thought to myself “Shoot, did Debra query us and we responded with a no? How could we?” At any rate, I hope that is not the case, as I am quite enjoying our correspondence via twitter, and I like what you have to say on your blog (very beautiful, btw). If that is the case, well, I’d like to invite you to query again... We get anywhere between 150-300 queries a week and sometimes it is just downright difficult to pull out what we are looking for.

Yup, you read that right. She liked what I had to say on Twitter, visited my blog, and invited me to requery her for MURDER ON TWILIGHT CIRCLE. I immediately sent her the query and she asked for the first 100 pages, cover letter, and bio.

Then we emailed and talked on the phone. She said she loved my writing, but didn't feel a mystery was the best genre to go out with as a debut author. I told her about SPARKS FLY and she liked the idea. She asked me for the full manuscript. Then, I told her about an idea I had for a YA novel. That's when she got really excited. She asked me to keep her posted on my progress with the book. I began writing on September 20th and finished the first draft on November 3rd (six weeks; 62,000 words). This was the fourth novel I've finished, and the third novel I've finished this past year. (The first one took me 13 years, give or take, and the last three were done in a year.)

When I finished the first draft of my YA novel, she made a request. "I'd like a 7-day exclusive on your 1st draft."

"Come again? Um, okay, but let me read through it once before I send it."

What? An agent wanting to look at a first draft? I'd never heard of that before. I read through the ms and did a soft-edit, making sure sentences made sense, and correcting all the little odds and ends that go horribly awry when you're writing a first draft. Then I sent it off and was a basket case.

We scheduled a phone call for this past Friday, as in "Friday the 13th." Hmm... I wasn't feeling the warm fuzzies about the date or the call. I was sure she was going to say something like, "It's not bad, I mean maybe it's even good in places, but it's totally not there. Why don't you finish your edits and I'll take a look again, say maybe sometime next year?" I was ready for that. I took deep cleansing breaths and did stretching exercises in the minutes leading up to "the call." I could handle "no." I'd gotten quite good at it over the past year.

"The Call" lasted nearly an hour, and somewhere within that time frame, Bernadette offered to represent me. When I got off the call, I had a little trouble breathing. Okay, I felt like the air had been sucked out of my lungs and I needed CPR - but in a good way. As wonderful as the conversation was, it wasn't a done deal. Bernadette told me to sleep on it, really think it over, and call her back when I'd made my decision.

Decision? What decision? To go with an amazing agent who loves my work and who, by her own admission, is a "high-powered bitch" (which is a great trait for an agent!), and who has huge vision and plans for my book vs. remaining agent-less? What kind of decision was that?

If only it were that simple... Keeping with the "proper protocol" of being offered representation, I sent e-mails to all agents who were still reading my work. There were five - each truly awesome. Two asked for the full 1st draft of my new book, another asked for the first 20 pages, another declined but wanted to continue reading my murder mystery, and one did not reply. Uh-oh. What do I do now?

In the end, I decided Bernadette was the one for me. Part of me knew it since that first e-mail she'd sent back on September 2nd. At the risk of sounding cliche, she had me at "hello" (or, "Hi Debra").

My advice to all of you wonderful and talented writers who are looking for representation is as follows:

1) QUERY WIDELY!

2) Keep writing. You never know which ms will be "the one."

3) Do lots of research. Find out which agents represent your genres, what other writers and clients have to say about them, what they've sold, etc. If possible, go to conferences and meet them in person.

4) Be organized. I had separate email folders for "Queries," "Passes," and "Requests," as well as an excel spreadsheet. I also kept track of my queries on QueryTracker.net. Other great resources include: AgentQuery.com and Publishers Marketplace.

5) Get to "know" agents on Twitter. It is the single most amazing resource writers have to converse with agents and find a good "fit."

6) Be your own best marketer. Have a blog &/or a website, keep it updated, and have it be a true representation of yourself. Get used to marketing yourself - you should always be your number one promoter!

7) DON'T GIVE UP!!!! If you're talented, committed, and dedicated, your day will come. I have no doubt about it. Neither should you.

Last, I'd like to thank each and every one of you for your incredible support. I can't tell you how much your comments mean to me. I hope the story of my journey (so far!) has been worthwhile for you.

Namaste, my friends. With all my heart, I bow to you.

***Bernadette is now with Victoria Sanders & Assoc. in NYC.

101 comments:

Natalie Whipple said...

Congrats, Debra! What a crazy story! I'm so happy you found someone who gets you—it's absolutely the BEST.

T. Anne said...

I'm so thrilled for you. Honestly that is the most unique call story I have ever heard. BTW, love Bernadette even though I got a no myself. I think you are in awesome hands. And yes, you have built a heavyweight case for querying widely and social networking. I am in complete shock over the first draft reads. How awesome is that? XOXO Big congrats!

Courtney Allison Moulton said...

Congrats!! May many happy years (and book deals!) lay ahead of you with your new agent :-)

Sandra Leigh said...

Fabulous news, Debra - Congratulations!

Kiersten White said...

Just so, SO thrilled for you. I had no doubts it would happen, and it sounds like you found your perfect agent!

Very excited, too, that you're joining me in the ROCKING world of YA!

Bill Cameron said...

Awesome news. Congratulations!

karencollum said...

Debra, I am so excited for you! I got all teary just reading about your delightful news. It's wonderful to know all your hard work has paid off. I wish you and Bernadette a long and happy agent/writer relationship!

And I couldn't agree more about the power of Twitter. Used appropriately, it is certainly a powerful community for writers.

Andrea Cremer said...

Wonderful story, Debra! Congrats :)

Daisy Whitney said...

I am so thrilled for you! Finding the right agent for you is such an amazing milestone and now you have crossed this all-important hurdle. Now she gets to sell your book!

Chuck Schubert said...

You have an agent?? No way...why didn't you tell me; after all, I live with you and all. How did you keep this to yourself...Wow, amazing....

Seriously, honey, I AM SO PROUD OF YOU!!

Andrea Brokaw said...

YAY!!!!!!!!!!

Congrats. May this be just the start of the awesome. :)

Kasie West said...

WOW!!!! What an amazing story! That is sooooo awesome! Seriously, that you met via Twitter just blows my mind. And that she asked for your FIRST DRAFT!! That's awesome, Debra! I am so happy for you. Congrats!

taralazar said...

Wow! What a thrilling ride and a great story! Congratulations!!!!

Victoria said...

Congrats!!!!!

Anita said...

Fiiiiinally! I'm hard pressed to think of anyone who's worked harder than you...you deserve this, and I can't wait until you get a book soooold!

Angie Ledbetter said...

Hawt dayum, Schube!!! I'm so overjoyed for you. What a great Friday the 13th bad luck buster.

Aaiiieeeeeee! (Cajun cowboy yell that just scared my dog.) :D

Kristin said...

Oh my goodness! That is ah-mazing! ;o) I would have been sweating bullets over those first draft reads!! Congratulations! To have someone believe in you and your work! The best.

Vegas Linda Lou said...

Debbie, FANTASTIC news! I have goosebumps for you! Wonderful, wonderful! And I'm even going to rethink my mantra that Twitter can kiss my ass. Yay for you! XOXOXOXO

Kelly H-Y said...

OH MY GOODNESS ... congrats!!!!! And ... what a story!!! WOW, WOW, WOW!!!!

Barry said...

Congratulations. Determination, perseverance (and talent) do pay off.

And your agent sounds great!

mo.stoneskin said...

I'm so pleased for you, and I would have to admit, ever so slightly a teeny bit envious but not really...

Seriously, very pleased for you and thanks for the tips.

"QUERY WIDELY"? I'm a bit worried about letting my imagination go on that one.

Ruthanne Reid said...

I can't even say how proud of you I am - what a way to represent us crazy writers! You definitiely did it right. Way to go. :D

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Congratulations!

And a great example of how a platform can work out for writers!

Elizabeth
Mystery Writing is Murder

Aidan Donnelley Rowley said...

Amazing! I knew it was a matter of time, but a HUGE congrats! I am so so thrilled for you!

Christina Lee said...

WOO HOO!!!! congrats--What a very cool story!!!

Amy Sue Nathan said...

I think every aspiring author should read this post! You are an inspiration.

You'll 'scuse me now as I go finish my novel!

Alan Orloff said...

CONGRATS!!

Your seven steps to agent-snagging-success are good ones. And proven to work.

Jen said...

Congratulations! I rarely interact with agents on Twitter because I've always thought it looked like brown-nosing. I've seen people who ONLY respond to agents or editors (and always like they're the best old friends) and it's just so smarmy. But maybe I'll have to step it up...a little. :)

Keep us posted as you go into submissions!

Kelly said...

Wow WOW WOW! CONGRATS, Debra! I'm so happy for you!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What a fantastic story about how you snagged that agent, too!
You are an inspiration! I'm going to keep writing, keep blogging, and query away! (and maybe even one day join Twitter....)

Jeanie W said...

Congratulations, Debra!

MeganRebekah said...

What a wonderful agent story!!

Congrats!!! I can't wait to hear how your submission process goes!

Jody Hedlund said...

Debra,

My hands are shaking as I type this!! What an AWESOME story!!! I HAVE to tweet about this. Right. Now.

Congrats don't do justice to what I'd like to say to you this morning! How about this instead: Many, many rich blessings in the days and weeks to come. You deserve it. And many hugs your way too!

Sustenance Scout said...

Woohoo, Debra!! I saw Sharon last night and she announced your news to our book club. :) You're on the list to be one of our visiting authors! What a great recap of your journey; you deserve this for your amazing talent and dedication...and your sheer determination! Congrats! K.

Kristina said...

WOW! More evidence, too, that one should behave online! Important people are watching...

Congratulations!

Indigo said...

Woot! Jules hinted at something big for you on her blog, but I had no idea it was THIS huge. Wicked cool, dear friend!

I had no doubt. I'm simply thrilled for you! (Hugs)Indigo

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Amazing story. Congratulations!!! I wish you all the best with all your stories.

I'm still shocked at the number of queries you sent out. Shaking head here. That's dedication and commitment for sure!!!

Lynnette Labelle said...

Congrats! I'm so glad you told us the whole story. And what a story it was. Amazing! I guess I'd better get the hang of Twitter. ;)

Lynnette Labelle
http://lynnettelabelle.blogspot.com

Lynnette Labelle said...

By the way, if anyone you know is looking for a crit partner/group, I'm doing some matchmaking for writers. Send them to my blog.

http://lynnettelabelle.blogspot.com

Thanks.
Lynnette Labelle

Patti said...

Great story of perservance. Gives me hope. Good luck with your book.

Paul Michael Murphy said...

Just found out. Congratulations! Great story.

Jill Kemerer said...

Wow! Wow! WoW!!!

Congratulations!! I love this post. Love the energy, love the message, and I especially love that one of your dreams came true.

Congrats!!

Karen Walker said...

Knew this was going to happen for you, Debra. So very happy. Enjoy the ride!
karen

Galen Kindley--Author said...

Hardy, hardy, congratulations. Great job. I’m very happy for you. Thank you for this wonderful and informative post. It’s encouraging and helpful. Again, well done, now, go forth and make yourself famous!!!

Best Regards, Galen

Imagineering Fiction Blog

The Screaming Guppy said...

Way to stick with it. :) Congrats and good luck!

Jessica said...

Awesome story! Thank you for sharing. :-) Wow, I can't believe it happened on twitter. Too cool.
(I came over from Angie's blog)

kanishk said...

What a thrilling ride and a great story!


Work From Home India

Paul said...

Congrats, Debra! What a great story. Sounds like you found the right match!

Caroline Starr Rose said...

Hooray! I knew something was cooking. What a fantastic story! Here's to the soon-to-come submission process. :)

nsiyer said...

Congrats!Debrah. You deserve it. The landmark dictum of 'being unreasonable' has been followed by you. Thanks too for introducing me to the blog of Aidan Rowley.

Donna M. Kohlstrom said...

Congrats!!! Confetti everywhere!!! Dancing in circles!! Screaming and shouting "Hooray"!!! So verrrrrrrry happy for you!!! Way to go!!! Congrats big time!!!

Girl with One Eye said...

Congratulations! Your exciting news is spreading like wild fire. Awesome story, I can't wait for my blog to read the same some day. You go girl!

Renee Collins said...

There is something in the air! You're the third person I've heard of getting an agent in the past week!

Well, congrats!! What a great story and great example of persistence. Way to go!!

Mireyah Wolfe said...

OMG that's wonderful, Debra! Congratulations!! And wonderful advice for us aspiring authors! ;-)

DebraLSchubert said...

Just checking in, y'all! I'm blown away by your well wishes and comments. I feel so blessed right now, it's hard to even "be" with it. I can't wait to hear a success story from each and every one of you. Remember "Little by little all your sweet dreams come true." Believe in yourself. Make it happen. ;-)

Cindy said...

Congratulations! That's an awesome story and it's great that you're so happy with your agent.

Suzyhayze said...

I can't even speak.

Tam said...

Congratulations!! We are all very happy & proud of your hard work. Happy Thanksgiving too!

Shelli said...

congrads!

Tricia said...

Thank you for sharing. Congratulations.

Karen Denise said...

WOW! What an awesome story! You give me hope. I've queried widely with my current novel (like 150 too) and just as I started getting down and depressed by all the intrest that turned into rejections, the outright rejections and the no replies, I started writing something else. I haven't given up on my current novel, but hearing your story makes me smile all over. Maybe the one I wanted to be my debut novel, will be my second or third. Congrats to you Debra and I wish you great sucess!

Jo said...

Super News. Congratulations and make sure you really celebrate the moment!

Jemi Fraser said...

Still happy dancing up here in Canada for you, Debra!!!

What an amazing story - so many fun twists and turns!

I'm so happy for you and proud of how hard you have worked for this. Wishing all the best :)

Sharon Mayhew said...

Debra, That is wonderful! I am so excited for you. May you have great success with Baker's Mark Literary Agency. Three cheers...Hip Hip Hooray. Hip Hip Hooray. Hip Hip Hooray!

Sierra Godfrey said...

Congrats Debra, this is so huge! What I love most is how your prolific blogging and social media activity paid off. Well done.

Susannah said...

How wonderful is this?! I'm so happy for you and wish you much success. Congratulations!

(Happy dance for you!!!!)

Lisa Dez said...

I missed this Tuesday. OMG! Congrats. I'm so glad you found someone so enthusiastic about your work--on twitter, no less.

Awesome story!

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

Great story! Congrats. :)

Anonymous said...

AWESOME! AWESOME! AWESOME! AWESOME! AWESOME! AWESOME! AWESOME! AWESOME!

Go, you!! Now THERE'S a story you can sink your teeth into! ;-)

-- Dawn

Corey Schwartz said...

Wow!~ What an incredible story!

WendyCinNYC said...

That's such an amazing story! Many congrats!!!!

AM said...

I saw your announcement on Kristin's Pub Rants. I am so glad that I did not miss the opportunity to congratulate you on this momentous day!

Woo-hoo! Congratulations.

And I have to tell you that hearing about your submission and rejection process ending in finding representation is an inspiration for all of us!

Thanks for sharing your trials and tribulations... and your great news! Congratulations!

Voidwalker said...

Congratulations! That is so great to hear and gives new aspiring authors, like myself, hope!

You better not stop writing on this here blog though :)

melane said...

Congratulations! I am SO glad I found your blog. Yours is an amazing story, and this is really what got me thinking about getting a Twitter account.

Sarah Olutola said...

This is an insanely awesome story! I'm definitely gonna have to save this one :D

Congrats!

Sharon Mayhew said...

I don't know much about twitter. I need to figure it out after reading Debbie's story. :)

CKHB said...

That is spectacularly cool. CONGRATS!

georgiamcbridebooks said...

I'll start with congratulations. Next thank you for sharing and then, wow. What an amazing story. That has got to be one of the most amazing, round-about super, super encouraging stories I've heard about finding an agent. Well done and it could not have happened to a more deserving person. Good luck and keep me posted.

Laura Renegar said...

What an awesome story! Thanks for sharing your journey with us. :)

RissaWatkins said...

Loved your story! Congratulations. So excited for you.

Steph Damore said...

SWEET!!!!! I knew the call would come. You rock!

Julie Dao said...

I heard about your success story from several other bloggers! CONGRATS!!

kim @ mommyknows said...

This is fantastic! I'm so happy for you.

Glynis said...

How absolutely wonderful and amazing! I wish you joy on the path you now tread. Well done for never giving up and happy twittering!!!

Kathryn Magendie said...

FIRST!@ WHOOOHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO HOT DAMN! so happy YES YES AND YES!

second - do you know that was going to be the title of Tender Graces "The Secret Keeper" - I really wanted that title ... (another author had it or something that was something I can't remember)....I just adore that title

I AM SO HAPPY FOR YOU!

Makes me think I need to get busy finding that agent - yes, I already have a book out, and yes, the next one will be out in spring, BUT everyone says "get an agent" - so, I'm going to read your post again, get fired up, and get me arse in gear . . .

YAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY! this is just so cool....

Kathryn Magendie said...

PS - DID I SAY CONGRATULATIONS!!!! *laughing* -- okay, I did- but it deserves TWO comments - because I forgot to clap

*clap clap clap clap clap*

YOU GO DEB - please keep us updated on everything that happens- and I can't wait to read your book -- hurry up - laughing!

*BIG ASS GRIN!*

Solvang Sherrie said...

Holy smokes, Debra! What an awesome story!! Congratulations! And all I can say is you must write the most brilliant first drafts :D

Christina Davis said...

WAY TO GO!!!!

I loved reading this. I love that this is happening for you. Your words are inspiring. Thank you for taking time to share this in detail.

Pen Pen said...

HOLY KITTENS MADE OF GUM DROPS!!!!

I KNEW you'd get one!!!! :)

AND- I talked to our girl about this, and she has a song dedicated JUST TO YOU! Check it here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OomQgqaxUH0&feature=related

KISSES, YOU LUCKY BIATCH!!!! :)

Midlife Jobhunter said...

Oh, Deb. So happy for you. You are right - stick with it and stick with it and stick with it and look what happens. Truly, truly pleased for you.

The Peach Tart said...

Biggest congratulations on getting an agent. I'm so excited for you. Enjoy.

Mandy's Life After 30 said...

Wow, congrats to you! I've been so out of bloggy land lately with our move so I'm sorry I'm just now responding. That's wonderful news. Nothing but the best is in store for you and I look forward to reading your journey to success!

jdcoughlin said...

I am so happy for you! That is the most wonderful news ever! And even more amazing I am the 92 person to congratulate you! Not that I'm surprised anyone that can write a pitch in five seconds flat is born to write. And the way your agent found you, so legendary! So cool! So you!

steve said...

Congratulations, Debra! I wish you much luck and happiness in the coming year.

-Steve Ogden
( @OgdenStudios from Twitter )

Anonymous said...

Well..... arent you lucky....

Rachel Stark said...

First off, congrats! Secondly, would you mind if I link to your post from my blog? I just made a post about how blogging has affected the book industry, and I think it would be great to follow up with a quick one about how Twitter is changing the manuscript submissions process!

You can read my blog here, and I hope you'll leave me a comment saying it's okay for me to link you!

http://trac-changes.blogspot.com/

Shelly Wutke said...

I've just started to follow your blog and I don't know you at all but I am so happy for you! Congratulations!

You give someone like me hope, as I am sitting here with a headache between my eyes but a story in my head that won't go away! I'll keep writing. :)

Heidi Willis said...

Amazing story!! Congrats!! I can't wait to follow your journey from here!

cindy said...

many congratulations! so well deserve on your agent. /bootay shake! for when you go on sub!!! =DD

Julie Musil said...

Holy cow, this is excellent news! Congratulations. Your hard work and dedication paid off :D

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