Okay, at this point in the story it’s now about halfway through 2018. I’ve received some rejections on my query but I’ve also received two more FULL requests for BOOK 5. At this point I’ve got 3 Partials in the wild, and 3 Full requests out for BOOK 5 and still a FULL out in market for BOOK 4. Insane.
I feel like I’m juggling something I can’t hold.
I’ve read a lot of authors’ blogs about their journeys to getting a literary agent. One thing’s for certain, everyone has their own. I listened to podcasts (with a shoutout going to Claribel Ortega and Kat Cho for WRITE OR DIE, which I love) and read blogs and attended conferences and read blogs and watched YouTube videos / interviews and read blogs. Do you know what I learned in all of that? There’s no surefire way of locking in an agent. And that’s really annoying because there’s no way of comparing your own experience with everyone else’s and therefore have no idea if you’re on the right track [baby I was born this way].
Then, I start receiving responses on my full for BOOK 5. Agents who I’ve long admired have come back with personalised rejections. They tell me, they love the concept but the writing didn’t work for them or the voice didn’t connect or it wouldn’t fit their list, or they have a book that’s thematically too similar. And do you know what? This is okay, I tell myself.
Writing is so, so, so subjective and you absolutely can’t take ANY of these things personally. And so I wrote these agents back, thanking them for their time. Some even asked me to keep them in mind if I still needed representation. But it wasn’t over yet. I had a whole spreadsheet still written and I’d broken it into Phases (not unlike the Marvel Cinematic Universe). Actually, to compare my experience to the MCU, I got an agent during Phase 2 but Phase 1 was so bloody important to set everything up.
Fandom aside, I was busy writing BOOK 6. Why? Because I needed to write. I had an idea and I wasn’t going to let it go so I poured everything into writing BOOK 6. This kept me sane as I waited.
Then the months passed.
And I heard nothing.
My writing pace slowed. But my reading pace picked up. So I read AROUND my topic. I read non-fiction about my topics, I read manga (One Piece at the time, gosh I love Chopper!), and I played games. I’m an avid gamer and even studied them formally at university (particularly Game Form and Narrative). I play games for their stories and I realise now that I needed these escapes to fill up my creative well.
So there I was, one Saturday morning when I sat down to play Red Dead Redemption II for a whole day while my partner was at work. I had M&Ms in arm’s reach on one side and a cup of Melbourne Breakfast tea from T2 on my other. With controller in hand, my watch goes off to notify me of something. I check it as though inspecting an itch, something bothersome that you’re just triple-checking isn’t anything horrific and see an email from an agent. The same agent from the beginning who I’d read about and thought, ‘hey she might like my books!’, the same agent who asked me to see BOOK 4 in full, the same agent who then emailed me asking me why I hadn’t sent her BOOK 4, and the same agent who then asked for a full of BOOK 5.
I dropped my controller, spilled my tea, and ate my M&Ms.
The email from the agent was long and in it she wrote that she’d read both of my books, she couldn’t get them out of her head, and had been going back and forth about this email for weeks. I have now stood up, maybe my breathing stopped? I can’t remember. What I can remember is that my M&Ms were gone.
Still reading her email, I fetched more M&Ms. It was an R&R. Which means “revise and resubmit”. A very thorough R&R. On BOOK 5. I freaked out, shut down the PlayStation and, instead, played video game theme music from FINAL FANTASY XIII. I cried a little and then shook the tears from my face and the M&Ms from their bag.
Scoffing chocolate candies, I read through this agent’s feedback and realised that she got what I was trying to say. I agreed with her edits and set to work. I contacted an author internet friend, Ryan La Sala, and he gave me some solid advice that I absolutely needed. And I sent to work on edits.
Rather than spending the day in the digital Old West, I journeyed back into my manuscript.
I had the day to work on it and all that I needed to change right now was the first three chapters of BOOK 5. I could do this.
Except, my mind had other plans. Suddenly, I was getting what I wanted and the universe, being the universe, also made it so I had a new job to start that I was also very passionate about. This hit me for six so I had to balance both a new job, book edits, AND Red Dead Redemption II. In retrospect, these were good problems to have.
I slaved away on my edits over the following days and weeks, second-guessed everything all the while. Then, with my partner’s encouragement, I sent off the edits and then I waited.
I got back on my horse (in Red Dead Redemption II) AND in life and waited.
That’s when I got an email asking me to jump on the phone and have The Call.