So I get this phone call today. It's Amy, and she's a design manager.
She's called to talk to me about my book. My novel. The one they are publishing.
Eeekkk! How exciting.
What exactly is a design manager? Well, she's the one who manages what the book will look like. The *gasp* COVER.
Oh. My. Word.
I was having a conversation about the cover of my upcoming novel.
What upcoming novel, you ask? Well, let me tell ya all about it!
I wrote this novel, see, and then, when I was finished, I didn't have a clue what to do with it. I mean, don't these things just sprout legs and walk to their intended destination? Apparently not.
So, I sent to The Writer's Edge. I paid my money and I took my chances (Later, I'll do a post about this and other services like it - you can decide if its worth it or not). Turns out it was a good move for me. They reviewer there loved the sample chapters I sent and posted a very positive note at the bottom of my proposal.
A few months later there was some interest in the novel, then, there was more. Suddenly I had more interested publishers than I knew what to do with. A nice dilemma, but I still didn't know what I was doing.
I e-mailed a smart and well connected friend I trusted and asked "What would you do if you were me?" Her response was, "Girl, you need an agent. Now!" Then she offered to send a letter of introduction to an agent she knew well (actually she knows many agents and she sent me a list to choose from). I picked one I had heard many good things about and my friend sent the e-mail that day. I didn't think much would come of it, but I was grateful to my friend for sticking her neck out for me.
Later that same day, the phone rang. It was the agent. She had read chapter one on my website (it's no longer posted there, sorry. I'm hoping to be able to post an excerpt once the book has gone through revision with the editor). She said "I wanted to ask to see the whole manuscript-- if for nothing else than I wanted to keep reading. That's a rare thing for an agent with a pile of reading."
I sent her the manuscript (I LOVE e-mail and all it's instant goodness) and wondered what, oh what would happen.
She called me the next day and said she would be happy to represent this book.
And Wow, that's when things started to move fast (well, fast is a relative term in publishing). She jumped on and starting pitching the book right away. Zip Zap Kapow! I was amazed. She knew things I didn't even know enough to know I didn't know. Within weeks she had a firm offer on the table. They didn't just want Talking to the Dead, they wanted a sequel also. My agent said, "Have you thought about a sequel?" I started thinking of a sequel - right then! She asked me for a proposal - so we had something concrete to show them.
Yeesh. I thought it was difficult to write a proposal for a book I had written. It's way harder to write one for a book that doesn't exist yet. I tried. It was terrible. Awful. I tried again. That proposal was stinky too. Then I sat down a third time. This time what came out was the first chapter and a title: Talking to Angels. It wasn't what they were asking for, but it was the best my creative but stubborn mind could come up with.
They said, "yes."
Listen, I don't know much. I'm so new. I only know what happened to me (is happening). But from my story, I think you can see that I am pro agent. I've heard writer's ask "Should I get an agent?" My answer is, "I don't know. But I know that it has made all the difference for me. I'm a writer, not a business person. I don't have the ins agents have. I don't know the industry the way an agent does. If you do, then you might not need one, but think about this: Every huge, big name author you can think of - go ahead think of one. Yep. He has an agent. Yeah, her too. That huge name author, oh ya, she has an agent too. All of them do. Why is that? Because agents can do the job the writer can't do for herself. I'm thrilled to have my agent as part of my team, someone who will do what I am simply not able to do. I've heard people say, "Yeah, but they take a big chunk of your money."
I don' think so. First of all, an agent will get you more money than you can get on your own. So, you are already ahead. Second, most agents do this job because they love it, not because it makes them rich. Far from it. They work hard to see you book succeed because they love books. And as far as the fee - a good agent is worth 10 times as much as she charges. When an agent takes you on (unless you are a huge name with guaranteed huge sales) she is taking on the unknown with you. No one can predict what will happen, but an agent is someone in your corner who says, "I believe in this book." And she will work hard for it, even if it doesn't make much money.
It's not about money. It's about having a team of people working WITH you and FOR you.
A word about publishing companies.
My experience tells me they are populated with very nice people. Editors? Nice people. Honestly. And highly creative. Most of the editors I have met are crazy creative - all over the place creative. And fun.
My book landed at David C. Cook. Wow. What an amazing group of people they have assembled there. They have treated me with such warmth and openness. Have you heard stories of publishers who buy the book and barely communicate with the author? I have. Not so with Cook. Everyone there has gone out of their way to make me feel like I am part of this dream team. They ask me for input - they initiate conversations and seek out my ideas. They are a group that knows how to be a team. I have loved every moment working with them.
It's early in the game, true. We are just starting to put this book together. And it is a trip I'm enjoying. I'm trying to take it slow, enjoy the sights, savor the moments, celebrate the little things. After all, I'll only have one debut novel and I want to remember everything.
That's a bit of what has been going on with me, my book, and my happy experience.
The moment I am able, I will share the book cover with you!!
And, as always, I bid you good writing.