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!)