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Last April, I signed with Marisa Corvisiero of Corvisiero Literary Agency. It was the realization of a dream. I made something that felt impossible…possible.
Oddly enough, I went about it from a totally different direction. Normally a writer sends a query to an agent, and then waits 2-3 months to hear back. Then, if they are lucky, that writer gets a partial manuscript request. They then wait another 2-3 months, maybe more. If they are super lucky they get a full request. And then they wait for the agent to read the rest of the book, if they are interested.
It can take almost a year from the time you send that first query, or, if rejected it can be pretty darn quick. I have had same day rejections to queries. It’s both nice and annoying. Nice that the agent got right back to you and there is no wait. Annoying because the rejection was so quick it feels like you were disregarded. But hey, that’s the name of the game we authors play. You have to get used to the rejections. Do you get cranky when you don’t win the lottery? No. You know that winning the lottery is a one in a million shot. Well, that’s the same with getting a literary agent. It’s a really difficult thing to do. And if/when you manage to sign with an agent, it seriously feels like winning the lotto.
Like I said, last April, I won the lottery. I signed with an agent. And not just any agent. One I had wanted to sign with for about two years prior to my query. In fact, she and her agency had helped me long ago. (I shared a post on FB from Nov. 2012, when Marisa and her agency helped me with a writing issue I was having.) So I like to think it was fate that I ended up with her.
But still, I managed to sign with an agent going a totally different and somewhat backward way. I was getting a lot of small press offers last year (beginning of 2014). In fact, I always get a lot of small press offers. But last year this time, I got an offer from a up and coming small press that was really making waves. They wanted both of my unpublished books. At the time that was my Viking Age Dark Fantasy and my Urban Fantasy Thriller. I reached out to the agent I wanted to represent me and told her that I had offers on the table. I asked for her help. I told her I wanted to be traditionally published and I wanted to have an agent to work with to help shield me from getting taken advantage of again (again-again).
Marisa evaluated my work over the course of a few days, checked out my presence on the web and social media, and then offered to represent me. I signed the contracts on April 30th, 2014.
Normally, when you sign those contracts, the agent has already read your work and fallen in love with it. In my case, she had not read either of my books in their entirety. She had read samples, enough to know I am a skilled writer with some good ideas and plots. So after signing with me, she had to plan to read both of my books. I write long books. Not those simple little 50K or 60K things. I always aim for 110K and then edit up or down. I handed my agent two novels, totaling over 200K. That is a lot to read for a busy person with other projects and a family.
So I had to wait.
Like I said before, the wait would normally be after sending queries and samples…before you sign. The wait would be filled with hope, but expectations of being rejected. That was not my case. I was signed already. I only had to worry about one thing: will she love my work. And she did. After reading the one book, Marisa gave me some great feedback. I was relieved and SO happy. She then read the other book, which was longer, and I know that was tough for her, but she liked it. No corrections. No changes. Wow.
But that took much of the year. As expected. But I had to keep reminding myself. She needs to read your work first before she attempts to find you a deal or in my case deals. She has to read two books, at over 200K words total first.
It took a while, but I accepted it and relaxed. I stopped worrying about the when.
People ask me all the time, “You signed with an agent a year ago…why haven’t you got a book deal yet?” And I tell them the same thing. “Relax. It’s all about timing. Finding the right deal. Striking the iron when it’s hot. My agent had to read my two books first. That took time. She knows what she’s doing. Have faith.”
I have faith.
It’s been a year. Yes. And for the year I did not have to send queries. I did not have to get rejected. I did not have to worry and wonder what is wrong with me. I got to focus on my writing and write a new book. Seriously…for the first time in many years, I was able to NOT worry or stress over finding an agent.
I have learned things from the agency this year. I have learned things from the other authors represented at the agency too.
My agent now has four books of mine. A good variety to shop around. She has seen what I can do with social media; I did brand a hashtag for her. :) And she knows me better as a person now.
I know in my heart a book deal will be found in 2015.
(Yeah...I need the income...)(...however small it might be...)
Write Makes Might!
Kevin James Breaux