20 November, 2012

An Agent!

So this is the post I've dreamed of being able to write! I am very pleased to tell you that I have just accepted representation from David Haviland at The Andrew Lownie Literary Agency for my novel (current title Thousand-Word Things - though not for much longer!). It's all been a bit surreal.

Having experienced plentiful rejection in the past I had geared myself up for a year of sending out my partial manuscript (MS) to agents and getting rejections. I dreamed bigger, of course, but was prepared for the worst. After all, aren't we always told that only somewhere between one in 500 and one in 1000 MS submissions to agents are successful? In the end though, it's all been crazily fast. I started sending out this MS on the 19th October; I accepted representation on the 19th November!

On the same day I blogged about getting my first tough rejection, I got my first break! My friend Martyn (who I probably owe a cup of Earl Grey) persuaded the fiction agent at Andrew Lownie's (Martyn has worked with Andrew) to read my novel, and so I sent off my full MS.

While I was really happy at this foot in the door, it felt a bit like cheating. I know that almost none of those one in 1000 books actually comes from the slush pile - they are nearly all personal recommendations, but I still felt like I'd skipped a stage. Therefore, I was even more delighted the next day when another agency - Eve White - picked my novel off the slush pile and liked it enough to ask for the full MS. I suddenly had two interested agents!

I only had two days of trying to keep my expectations low before I had the wonderful e-mail from David, saying he'd read the whole thing, containing the magic words "I'd very much like to represent you". Without any preliminary hints at interest it came as a bolt from the blue - I think I was in shock for about a day!

As a writer my instinct was to agree to everything and get something signed straight away before David realised his mistake! But an agent has to be right for you and for your book. So there followed 10 agonising days as I kept in touch with Eve White and with David, and took advice from various professionals (including this very useful page, and the wonderful Writer's Workshop who are so amazing they'll get their own post later!). During this time I got a rejection from another agency, plus two rejections for other pieces of work - it was a bit of a crazy rollercoaster time! "Luckily" I was distracted from some of the waiting by picking up one of those winter vomiting bugs. Lovely.

I won't give you a blow by blow account of everything that happened (especially not the bug) - I appreciate it's only really interesting for me! In the end, both David and Eve had much the same praise and criticism for my novel, but Eve didn't feel she could make an offer until I'd addressed the issues first. I'm so grateful to her and her readers though for their encouragement that I have "real potential as an author". They are an agency I'd recommend submitting to. In a way it made my job easier. Having spoken to (and researched!) David and the agency, I really liked him and was extremely keen to work with him but knew I should be professional and hold out until I'd spoken to Eve! I was delighted to accept David's offer.

For me this is the ideal situation. David and his agency are a great combination. David is a new-ish agent and so has time and enthusiasm and is actively building his list (if anybody reading this is looking for an agent...), but he's a writer and has been working as an editor for Andrew Lownie for years. The agency itself is very well-respected - for all my google-searching and quizzing industry experts, I can't find a bad word said about it, even on the formiddable site Preditors and Editors. It prides itself in working to develop new writers' careers. I've heard it said before that new writers do well with new agents, so a new agent at an established and respected agency is perfect!

So now the work starts again. I've got a fair few changes to make before we even think about trying to find a publisher (and of course there's a very high chance it still won't sell and be published). But it feels like I've at least cleared the first hurdle at last. Then there's the next novel to start writing...

Thanks for allowing me a long and self-indulgent post - back to normal next week (so only slightly too long and self-indulgent). But I hope you'll journey with me through the excitement and insecurity of whatever happens next. (And thanks to all those who have sent me texts and e-mails full of exclamation marks and capital letters already - you rock!)



22 comments:

  1. David is a man of taste, and recognises a talented hard-worker when he sees one! Hope you've cracked open the (non-alcoholic) bubbly! Many congratulations ~ just the rest of the staircase now! Ceve

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    1. Our tipple of choice to celebrate was chocolate pudding - much better! But I sitll have a bottle of champagne I was given for my 18th that we've been keeping for if I ever get a publishing deal!

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    2. Chocolate pudding sounds like an excellent "tipple". :D

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    1. Thank-you :) Getting the offer was so very exciting. By the time I'd accepted it I'd calmed down and began to get my work-head back on again but I'm still very happy!

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  3. Wonderful news! Wonderful wonderful... makes me think that It Really Does Happen Sometimes...
    Don't suppose your man has any friends in the UK....
    Sorry.
    I'm very pleased for you. Been reading your blog a while and I will definitely be looking out for your book.
    :-)

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    1. I does happen. It does! I felt the same when a couple of my friends got agents this year. Thank-you :)

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  4. Ahem. Just realised you ARE in the UK. Even better. Well done you!

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  5. What wonderful news! Congratulations, Chloe! I'm so pleased for you. And, obviously, horrendously jealous, but then you've written a novel and I haven't so I can't really complain.

    I wish you the very best of luck with the next stage in the process and hope it all runs as smoothly as these things can.

    Have you thought about joining the Society of Authors? I was at a writing conference at the weekend and there was a representative there who made a very good case for joining up as soon as there's a sniff of a contract (either from an agency or a publisher). They really sound like they're on the author's side and can protect your rights and offer advice for what sounds like a fairly modest fee. (Just to clarify, I'm not on commission or anything, but having heard all about it a couple of days ago, it's fresh in my mind).

    Congratulations again!
    Dan.

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    1. Thanks, Dan. Of course I only did it to get you back for my 3into1 failure. But yes, writing a novel was the key to getting it taken on by an agent!

      Oooh, I didn't realise you could join just with an agent, I thought you had to have a publishing contract too. Thanks for the heads-up - I will investigate!

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  6. A toast to Chloe with that champagne up above. I'll have to make mine a mimosa since it's early morning! :)

    Congratulations!

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  7. Congratulations, Chloe, both on your success and your honesty about your own rollercoaster process. There's no such thing as cheating in submissions. However you get it to the agent's or editor's desk, it's the quality of the writing that will seal the deal. For us mere mortals, anyway!

    It's a well-deserved and positive way to close 2012. And now the real work can begin!

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    1. Thanks, Derek. Your excited e-mail was one of the highlights of the whole process for me!

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  8. Chloe - I can't believe I wasn't around for this. Congratulations doesn't even cover it, really. I realise it's all many months ago now, but I'm trying to catch up. You totally deserve it :)

    Nari X

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    1. Thanks very much! I hope you are well. I was just thinking about you earlier today - thinking I hadn't heard anything from you for a long time. Looking forward to the next blog post :)

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