A week ago today I sent out my first round of queries. I had my shot glasses lined up, my bottle of tequila at the ready. And for a few days, it looked as if I’d be spending the next six months hammered, chasing my ego with a bite of lime. Lots of, No, Averil, you dirty girl, slither back from whence you came. Mostly, though, these days the sound of ‘no’ is silence. Which is preferable to a rejection in my opinion, except if you’ve made a drinking game out of the query process.
But on Thursday, I got my first request for the full. Then another. Then a request for 100 pages from an agent who’d received my query only a few minutes before. Things were looking up.
The day went on. I wrote, I read, I ate a sandwich. Really I wasn’t thinking too much about the fulls except to wonder whether I needed to buy more limes. I spent some time looking for a job in Portland, revised my resume and found a couple of places to send it. Went over the budget for the move–again–trying to will an extra zero into our bank account.
Later that afternoon, I received an email from the agent reading the partial: I loved what you sent. Can you send the rest asap? Please? I need to know what happens!
Can I? Hell yes, because the agent in question had been on my radar since I first heard his name from a friend who was repped by one of his partners. This is a guy who likes thrillers, is wildly successful, and helped put The Art of Racing in the Rain on the NYT list for 2 1/2 years. Also, I read this article in Poets & Writers and found myself nodding in agreement over many of the things he had to say about the future of publishing and how writers and agents can improve their chances of being part of it. I liked his attitude. And I loved The Memory of Running, another terrific book on his list.
I sent off the full as my daughter and I were leaving the house to see The Hunger Games. We were settled in the back row, just hitting the bottom of a tray of nachos, and Prim’s name was being pulled from the bowl (no lie, exactly then), when my phone rang. I looked at the out-of-area number and thought, Nah, can’t be, that’s too fucking fast . . . But there was a message . . .
We pressed our heads together with the phone between us. The message was from Jeff Kleinman at Folio Literary Management. He’d finished the book and loved it and was calling to offer representation. Ten hours, from query to offer. That must be some kind of record.
So I squeezed my daughter and we did a silent little chair-dance, and I raced out to my car to call him back. For an hour, I stared at the marquee with the phone to my ear and listened to this passionate, funny, totally engaging man tell me how much he dug my book, what he thought we might be able to do with it, what might need to be tweaked. He was talking a mile a minute and to be honest, I was so dazed by the wonder of the whole thing that a lot of it went right over my head. I think I answered him back, probably with a complete lack of coherence which he was kind enough to overlook. I took a few adrenalin-spiked notes that meant nothing to me ten minutes after I wrote them. But one thing was very clear.
Jeff really gets my book. He understands where I want to go from here, and works at my speedy-speed. He’s a champion and an ally and a partner in (fictional) crime.
And he’s my agent!