I just realized this morning that it’s been ten years since I got my agent; nine years since I sold. It seems a lot longer.
Now, times have changed with self-publishing becoming mainstream, but for those who are contemplating selling to New York, it hasn’t gotten any easier.
I wrote my first book in 2008. I began it to get the story out of my head, but by the time I finished, my goal was to hold a book in my hand with my name on it.
But that meant I needed an agent. I joined a fantastic chapter of RWA (Romance Writers of America), and learned a lot from published authors, sharing their wisdom. I joined a critique group, and learned that my hero was a cardboard cutout. I edited, and edited. Then wrote a query, and sent it to 150 agents. No takers.
I wrote my second book, and repeated the process. I got a few requests for the manuscript, but ultimately, they all turned me down.
I continued to learn, and take classes. Lather, rinse, repeat.
My third book was special. My crit group thought for sure it would sell. I wrote a smooth, hooky query. I sent it out to over 100 agents and a few editors. More requests for the full manuscript, but still, rejection. I was about at the end of both my agent list and my patience. This was my best work. If I didn’t get an agent with this, I felt I never would.
I only had a couple submissions still out when the Board of my RWA chapter asked me to pick up an editor, our Saturday speaker at the airport, and bring her to a board dinner (I worked close to the airport).
Traffic in the ‘Orange Crush’ is awful any Friday, but on this one, there was a tanker overturn. We sat in traffic for two hours! Score for me (though probably not her). I had a captive audience! We discussed many things, and eventually, she asked me what I wrote. I pitched her my book. She said, ‘Sounds good, send me a partial.’ I reached in the backseat and handed her my query, synopsis and first chapter.
She was a bit taken aback, but promised to read it on the plane on the way home. She called me on Monday and said, ‘First thing we need to do is get you an agent.’
Yeah, like that never occurred to me.
She introduced me to my agent, and I went on to sell everything I’d written. Oh, and that book? It went on to win the RITA Award (Oscar of the Romance industry) for Best First Book in 2014.
I am currently writing my sixteenth book, and having a blast, but nothing will match the feeling of holding that first book in my hand with my name on it.
I survived 417 rejections before I got my agent and sold. If you have a goal, don’t let anything stop you. Will it be worth it? How will you know if you don’t get through it all and get your dream?