Monday, December 12, 2016

The agent who replied, and more.

About two weeks ago, I was opening my email at 8pm when I noticed a message in the inbox labeled "QUERIES".

I knew what that meant. An agent was getting back to one of my query submissions! She was from the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. I saw that it was in response to a lyrical picture book I sent her a couple moths previous. My stomach boiled with excitement as I clicked the message and read the following statement:

"Hi Debbie,

This is lots of fun, and I appreciate both the wonderful word play and the information imparted.  Do you have other picture book manuscripts that you can share with me?"

"Mike!!!" I squealed to my husband. "An agent just got back to meeeeeeee!!"

That night I stayed up late organizing my best manuscripts to send to the agent that has represented New York Times Best Sellers.

The next morning, I shakily replied with what I felt was six of my best stories attached. The agent quickly responded and said she'd take a look and get back to me in two weeks time.

Here's what she sent back two days ago:

"Dear Debbie,

Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to look at your picture books.  You've certainly got a way with words!  Unfortunately, after carefully considering all of your manuscripts and sharing them with my colleagues, I've decided that they are not quite right for my list, and I am therefore going to pass.  Editorial opinion is, of course, subjective, and another agent or editor is likely to feel differently.  I wish you every success in finding the right home for your work."

Deep breath. Whoo. Ok. First of all, don't cry.   Just a sec...Ok, I'm good....   Now.   Here's what I can glean from this experience:

#1 My work was good enough for an agent from Andrea Brown Lit. to notice. Even though she ultimately didn't take me on, this fact is validating. Sometimes you feel like you are just writing and writing and you don't really know if it's any good or if you are just fooling yourself. After several rejection letters, you begin to wonder, "Am I just wasting my time? Am I crappy at writing??" The validation of having an agent notice your work is incredibly motivating. It's still a rejection, yes, but it was closer than a "No, I'm not even remotely interested," which makes me want to keep trying!

#2 She did say that "other agents/editors" are likely to feel differently. I don't know if she tells that to everyone, but I appreciated that she said it to me, and I'm going to choose to believe her. I'm not giving up. There is a " right home for my work" out there!

#3 Since this agent responded, It's inspired me to write more stories that I probably wouldn't have otherwise. It's also given me a whole new set of ideas for future projects. So hey, there's that.

#4 I now know that my query letter is enough up-to-par to solicit an agent response. Because, who doesn't doubt their query letter?

So anyway, that's the story of the agent who replied. In conclusion, I'm more motivated than ever, I'm writing lots, and I'm determined to keep trying!

In other writing news, did I ever tell you I got a membership to SCBWI? (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) It's kind of a must-have for children's writers, so if that's you, consider joining! It's around 80$ a year. My husband got me signed up for my birthday present a few weeks ago, and it's already been a great resource full of tips, ideas, and opportunities. Check out my profile here and be sure to take a look around at all the website has to offer.

Lastly, I want to remind you that my book, Itchy Mitchie, makes a wonderful gift! Get your copy in time for the holidays here. And now for my promotional message of the day: I recently got a note from a customer who reminded me of one of the big reasons I keep writing. She bought Itchy Mitchie for her child who complains of being itchy often. After reading the book, here's what that customer said:

"Debbie, your book was perfect! ... [My child] even said, 'yes mom, when I read books, I don't have to scratch.' ...Thank you!" 

I love when the message of my book connects to the reader! If  that message can help a child in some way, then I feel like I'm doing something significant and it's worth it!

PS. I've actually sold Itchy Mitchie to a couple parents who say their kids complain of being itchy! I didn't write the book specifically for itchy-only customers, but because the book uses the example of itchiness as the main characters' problem, it has helped people with that specific problem. Cool! That makes me happy. The book was, after all, based on a true story of a little first grader who hated wearing shoes to school. :) 

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