I was sitting in my living room on a random weekday when my phone rang. A second call from New York.
“Pfft. I’m not answering it. It’s just another telemarketer.”
“Ugh. Whatever. I’ll listen to some robot try to sell me something.”
This time it wasn’t a robot, but a literary agent. She said she read NORMAL and would like me to call her back. I hopped up, ran into my office, and called her. We got off to a good start when literally the first words from her mouth were, “Are you screening my calls?”
We talked about the book and what potential it might have. She said she liked it but wanted more, and asked if I would be willing to add 20,000 words to the manuscript. I said I would give it a shot (truth told I would have eaten glass, had she asked me). She said that, contingent on how the 20,000 words turned out, she would consider offering me representation.
I wondered if maybe she was simply testing me to see what lengths I would go to in order to have a career as an author. Imagine if I’d said, “No, the book is fine as it is.” It very well may have been, but I’d be showing my colors as a difficult writer, wouldn’t I? I’d be labeling myself in a negative way, and I can’t imagine any agent is looking for that kind of writer, no matter how brilliant.
So I got to work. Over the course of a few weeks (which I later found out was a super fast turnaround) I added 20,000 words to a book I previously thought was entirely done. It was at this point I started to realize that no author can do it alone. The book was so much better for the changes and additions, but I never would have been able to see it unless I was challenged by someone whose job it is to understand the business, understand what sells, etc.
I always say let experts be experts, so if I wasn’t willing to take an expert’s advice about my work I wouldn’t just be shooting myself in the foot, but a hypocrite to boot.
Fingers crossed, I sent the revised copy to my would-be agent, telling myself I needed to be patient until she got back to me. This was early August, 2014. I clicked the Send button and smiled with satisfaction, for I was on my way.
That happiness lasted all of ten seconds.
Almost immediately, I got an OUT OF OFFICE reply letting me know my would-be agent was on maternity leave until October.
Um… oh God, that’s, like, two months away.
Where’s the nearest cliff?
Those two months dragged like a saggy diaper, yo.
The good news was in the meantime I heard back from some other agents, so I got a couple shots of confidence along the way, but ultimately they weren’t the agents I wanted, so I was really hoping to hear back from…
Barbara. After she had her second daughter, and right around the beginning of October, she offered to represent me. I was flying high. We had a serious discussion about how I’d need to start dropping “talk to my agent” and other such lines into every day conversation from here on out.
“Sir, you’re not allowed to eat all the samples. They’re for everyone.”
“You should probably talk to my agent.”
It was a very exciting time, but I want you to note the date from above–October, 2014.
People, I still had lots of pummeling to endure…