The Short Story Long - Part Four

After a very long intermission, it's time for the fourth and final installment of The Short Story Long (Or How I Signed With a Literary Agent). If you're joining for the first time, you can catch up here, here, and here.

So when we last spoke, I had just received a very long email from an agent who had requested my full manuscript. I am not exaggerating when I say that it was about five pages long, single spaced. It was full of praise for some aspects of my manuscript...and a boatload of thoughts on how it could be made even better. It was clear that this agent had put a LOT of time and thought into reading my book. It was in-depth. It was overwhelming. And...it was not an offer of representation. Instead, it was an exclusive R&R invitation. (R&R: revise & resubmit.) The agent wanted me to pull my manuscript from the other agents who had requested it and instead work exclusively with her on a revision.

I was simultaneously elated and slightly crushed. Only slightly, though - because the thing that stood out to me was that this agent completely understood my book. She saw all the holes I had patched over and had brilliantly insightful ideas on how to fix them. She praised everything I already loved, and suggested revisions that would make them shine all the brighter. There was no doubt in my mind that this was the agent I wanted.

I immediately thanked the agent for her feedback (barely able to keep myself from shouting about how amazingly brilliant she was). Then I emailed every other agent who had my manuscript and told them that I'd received an exclusive R&R offer.

A week passed. Revision ideas came like wildfire, as did agent responses. I received some gracious passes...and two offers of representation from great agents whose ideas were good, but did not hold a candle to the way the first agent's thoughts had affected the way I was already thinking about my manuscript.

I set up a call with the first agent. I asked her if I could send her some revision ideas in advance of our conversation so that we could discuss them (she agreed). I outlined the ways in which I wanted to change my manuscript based on what she had suggested. I paced the room nervously. I set my alarm so that I would be awake early enough (in Australia, remember!) to speak with her in the evening in the US. And when I got on the phone with her...everything clicked.

She praised my revision ideas. She understood what I was going for. She was exceptionally cool (way cooler than I am) and answered questions with grace and intelligence. We had a slightly awkward yet 100% lovely conversation that only reaffirmed the decision I had pretty much already made. "I've received two offers of representation," I said. "But I want to work with you."

Me in chilly April Australia, mailing the signed agency contract back to the US. This is not a great picture, (cold, blustery, underslept), but it's for posterity, right?

Me in chilly April Australia, mailing the signed agency contract back to the US. This is not a great picture, (cold, blustery, underslept), but it's for posterity, right?

To which she said something like (I confess I was maybe 30% delirious with nerves at this point so I don't remember exactly what the words were), "Then why don't we make it official?"

A few days later, I sent off the paperwork all the way from Australia. I was officially represented by Rebecca Podos at the Rees Agency in Boston, who is an exceptional editorial agent and an excellent writer in her own right. (Her debut novel comes out next month!)

Revision was a whole other beast, which I won't get into here. But suffice to say, I remain over the moon about the chance Becca took on my manuscript, the work I've put into it since signing, and the myriad ways in which she supports my work and my career. Thrilled, is what I have to say about that.

We've reached the end of this series (finally!), just in time for the end of 2015. Is it just me, or has it been a VERY long year?