How Did It Happen?

Since I have emailed just about everyone I know with my big news, I have gotten the same question from several members of assorted writing groups to which I belong. My fingers are getting worn out from typing the story over and over, so I’m putting it here once and for all.

No, I didn’t query. I did do a lot of research and had a wish list of agents lined up with contact info and submission requirements noted. But first I hit the networking trail. I went to book signings and talked to authors, subtly dropping the fact that I had a completed manuscript into the conversation. That actually got me two offers to have me send it to their agents. I went to Malice Domestic and had a published friend (Nancy Martin…go buy her Blackbird Sisters Mysteries!) introduce me to an agent.

Then I went to the Pennwriters Conference two weeks ago in Harrisburg. Actually Grantville, but let’s not quibble over geography. I had signed up for an agent appointment and I had volunteered as a time keeper for the appointments. My appointment went…well, let’s just say it could have gone better. The agent said my protagonist sounded weak, which she is not. Apparently my pitch left a lot to be desired. I had fifteen minutes before I was scheduled to begin my time keeping chore with a different agent and someone suggested I go talk to Catherine McLean in the Hospitality Suite. Catherine is somewhat renowned as a pitch coach. She and Nancy Schiller worked with me in an x-treme pitch session. The clock was ticking. We managed to come up with a new pitch and off I went.

One of the agent’s appointments didn’t show and the agent asked if I wanted to talk to her. I did and gave her the new, improved pitch. She requested 75 pages and a synopsis. And a new name for the manuscript.

I got everything, including the new title in the mail Monday morning. Thursday I got an email that I didn’t open right away because I just knew it was a rejection. Instead, when I did open it, I was greeted with “I really like what I’ve read so far.” Then she requested the rest of the manuscript, my ideas for the next two books and my full bio. And could I make the chapters longer?

Saturday morning, everything went in the mail. Never mind that Thursday I had no clue what book three was about. I brainstormed a plot, lengthened the chapters and packed it in a nice new manuscript box.

Less than two weeks later, I got another email. Great, I thought. Here’s the rejection I was waiting for. But, no! She wanted to know when was a good time to talk? I didn’t think agents usually called you to give you a rejection, so I emailed her back and fifteen minutes later I got the phone call that I’d been dreaming about.

So the moral of the story is, hard work will take you far, but luck and a little help from your friends doesn’t hurt either.


Kristine said…
Annette, I am SO happy for you! You've worked really hard and deserve all the success in the world. (I love it when great things happen to good people!) I'm looking forward to planning your party once your agent contract turns into a publishing contract!

Planet Mom said…
Wow! I'm thrilled beyond compare for you!

Strange (isn't it?), how an unpredictable little twist on life can change things--in this case, for the better.

Way to go!
I too am thrilled. I admired your approach to all the authors who come to Mystery Lovers. I think you will find that also pays off when you are touring for that first book!

Mazel Tov--------you worked for this!
Annette said…
Mary Alice, I'm flattered beyond words (which isn't really a good thing for a writer, huh?) Seriously, though, coming from you, that means a lot. Thanks.

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