The Short Story Long - Part Three

Welcome to the third 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 and here.

So I was in Australia. I had just flown out of a winter snowstorm, right into...summer. My luggage was missing (it was stuck in New York), but I was here! In Australia! And in possession of a book that needed finishing.

I stalled. That's the long and short of it. I stalled, and started casting about for something to help me get over the slump and into WRITENOW! mode. Luckily for me, it was right about that time that I saw that Pitch Madness was coming up. Hosted by Brenda Drake, this contest required me to send in a 35-word pitch and the first 250 words of my (COMPLETE!) manuscript. If picked, my submission would be posted online for agents to consider, essentially skipping the first step in the query process.

There it was. I sat down, wrote furiously, and set my sights on applying for Pitch Madness. I finished the book! The second full length book-thing I'd written! And when the submission window opened, I put together my submission and sent it out into the world:

Lena, a girl whose touch causes insanity, must wake a sleeping princess and break her own curse before she’s caught and killed by the mages who rule the forest. Sleeping Beauty meets Rapunzel meets Rumpelstiltskin.
— My original pitch for Curses Like Roses

I hyperventilated for a few weeks. Then the Pitch Madness picks were released. 915 submissions were received. Of those, less than 70 were picked. And mine was one of them. There isn't much to say about that except that there was much freakout! A few days later the submissions were posted online. My manuscript got five (FIVE!) agent requests.

I freaked out. Then I freaked out some more. Then I sat down and freaked out over my manuscript, trying to figure out how I could rewrite the entire book in a matter of days, because all of a sudden it wasn't nearly ready enough to be seen by agents. (I calmed down from that. Mostly.)

Brown-throated three-toed sloth female face

The following Monday I sent off five partial manuscripts to the Pitch Madness agents. At the same time, I sent seven queries to seven agents on my shortlist. (Why did I do this? Well, because while publishing is generally a very sleepy sloth, it can on occasion move at faster than light speed. I wanted to make absolutely certain that I didn't end up in the position of getting an agent offer without at least querying agents I'd been admiring for YEARS, in some cases.)

Remember the last time I queried a book? More than 100 queries over several months, and only five requests?

This time I received my first response within the hour. The agent requested the full manuscript. In less than a week, I had received requests from every agent I queried: five fulls, two partials. Including the Pitch Madness requests, there were a total of twelve agents interested in reading my work.

I sent the book off. The next day, the first agent who'd requested the book emailed me to say that she'd missed her train stop while reading the first chapters. I nearly had a heart attack. And then I promptly buried my head in the sand, surfacing only to self-medicate with chocolate and Gilmore Girls reruns.

Two and a half weeks later, I received a very long email.

Tune in next time to find out what that email said! Yes, I know I'm leaving you in the lurch. Happy weekend!