For the first, oh, two or three months or so after submitting my manuscript to the agent with whom I worked several years ago (remember that post?), it was a habit of mine to check my phone for emails about every 8 seconds, hoping for that response from her saying: Yes – your work is fabulous and fresh – of course I’ll represent you – I’ve even got a few editors in mind who are seeking just this sort of book!
With my first book – the one the aforementioned agent represented back in the day (which never found a publishing home) – she read it and set up an agent contract with me within about 5 or 6 weeks. So you could imagine my anxiety this time around with my latest submission to her when, after 5 or 6 months, I still hadn’t heard anything. I followed up with her at one point, and she was truly apologetic, telling me how swamped she was. Which I appreciated, understanding that her piles 8 years ago were likely not as huge; and she has a substantial list of current writers to manage. At least her response at the time was a ‘not yet’ instead of a ‘no’.
So I decided to chill out; tried to stop thinking about her response every dang moment of night and day. Kind of like with a break-up. You’re all consumed with the ex the first few weeks to months, wondering what he’s doing, if he’s thought about you. If he’s seeing someone else. You’re obsessed with it and it drives you crazy until, one shining day, you’re not. You haven’t thought about him and it’s wonderful and you’re so cool and you’re a normal, sane person. I became that sane person. I even decided to see other people – I sent query letters out to a new list of agents, one of which requested the first 50 pages. And I kept busy with other activities, other projects, lots of wine, lots of food. It’s nice to get to the point when you’re not overwhelmed by the weight of that ex.
Until he calls you out of the nowhere. That’s what happened to me. Working off site at an event in Pasadena, I assumed the short vibration of my phone was my daily Eater LA message or an email from Lululemon or Bev Mo. Instead, it was that response from the agent I’d been waiting for.
Only, it wasn’t the response I’d been waiting for. I didn’t have to read the whole email to get the message. I only needed to glance a few key phrases: sorry to disappoint…but unfortunately…all the best.
She did provide feedback, something I was grateful for, though I didn’t agree with some of her comments. And I realized then how subjective reading is; and how I’ve changed so much as a writer since that initial submission to her 8 years ago, before grad school; when chic lit was my thing. Nothing wrong with chic lit, but I do write much differently now. Not as funny, not as vulgar, not as quick. But that’s okay. And it’s also okay that my new story didn’t vibe with her. Not that my manuscript isn’t flawed or can’t be improved – but I can’t get all bent out of shape and become disheartened from this rejection.
So on to a Plan B or a Plan C, D, E; to edits and trusted reader friends; on to new agents and new queries and book contests and, possibly, self-publication. It’s surely time to diversify – I’m not ready to give up on this story. Not just yet, even if it means becoming completely consumed and obsessed and insane during the process.