Check out Ms. Plante’s winning entry, then check out the interview.
KV: What did you think when you found out who The Agent was? Had you already considered querying Ms. LaPolla?
AP: First, let me just thank you for hosting the ‘An Agent’s Inbox’ contest. I entered on a whim, and it was such a great opportunity. I’m new to the social-media-writing scene, and this community has been so inviting. :)
It was like blind-auditioning for a movie role you know you’ll never get--and learning that, not only did you get the part, but Steven Spielberg is your director and Ian Somerhalder is your love interest.
I’d queried Curtis Brown at least three other times before entering ‘An Agent’s Inbox’--so it was a flattering shock to hear such a venerated agency was interested in my writing. I just kept thinking, ‘Wow, me? Really? OK… let’s do this.’
KV: How long did you wait to hear back on the partial? What did Ms. LaPolla say when she did get back in touch?
AP: It was about five weeks from the initial e-mail. In her response, she said my book was a lot like Ender’s Game, and that she’d love to keep reading.
KV: I think we’d all love an agent to compare a manuscript of ours to ENDER’S GAME:) But I digress.
How long did you wait to hear back on the full? What did you do to keep yourself busy?
AP: Sarah was very busy, and I completely understood. I was so thrilled I had her attention, she could’ve spent the next year reading it over without a complaint from me. In the end, I think it took her eight to nine weeks. To her credit, she sent me a reassuring e-mail after the six-week mark to let me know she hadn’t forgotten.
After I sent the full, I did my best to forget about the whole thing. I didn’t tell anyone about the contest, or Sarah’s interest. That helped--there was no pressure or expectation from friends or family. I also started a new book (or two) in a different genre and, in all, tried out some new ideas and techniques.
I got her e-mail on Oct. 30--the day after a storm dumped two feet of heavy snow on
I wasn’t expecting an e-mail, so when it popped up on my smartphone, I gasped and froze. This was it--the big moment where I just knew she would tell me she liked it but, in the end, wasn’t interested. My husband came behind me and rubbed my shoulders for support. I opened it…and nearly passed out. No, I’m serious. Flooding relief and excitement.
KV: When Ms. LaPolla contacted you to discuss representation, did she e-mail you first or just skip straight to the Call?
AP: Can you imagine if she would’ve just called? Yikes! Thankfully, she gave me a day’s heads-up about scheduling a time to talk on the phone, which gave the adrenaline a chance to wear off, and gave me time to stop strutting around like I’d just won an Oscar.
KV: Tell us a little bit about that first conversation. Were you more excited or nervous (or both)? If you had some time to prepare, did you put together some notes, or did you just let the conversation develop? And what kinds of things did you two talk about?
AP: Would it be boring to say that I don’t remember? Think of that Katy Perry song: It’s a blacked-out blur, but I’m pretty sure it ruled.
In preparation, I re-read all of our previous correspondence, made sure my phone was charged, booked a conference room at my office and sipped a mug of peppermint tea, counting down the minutes until C-time. I played off cool and collected fairly well, at least to my co-workers.
Then, I spent the whole call trying to sound professional-yet-approachable. I took notes on her suggestions and the next steps. I was petrified Sarah would decide, mid-conversation, to hang up on me and move on. But of course, she was excited and sweet--I later realized that this was as much a job interview for her as it was me. That still astounds me, but it’s the truth.
In all, I remember her assurance that she loved the book, had very high hopes and couldn’t wait to get it out there to publishers and, eventually, readers. That was the most important part.
KV: I think that’s a really important thing to remember: Once an agent decides to make an offer, things become just as intense and nerve-wracking on the part of the agent as on the part of the writer. Like you said, that first phone call really is like a job interview for both parties. Great point.
Obviously, you decided to accept Ms. LaPolla’s offer of representation:) What about her impressed you?
AP: The reputation of Curtis Brown is stellar, of course, but overall I enjoyed Sarah’s enthusiasm for the book; it reminded me why I wrote it in the first place! The book was meant to be a thrilling techno-romp through
She’s also a talented editor, which is important to me (being an editor myself). When you write, you get so close to your own material that you can’t see its larger faults anymore--Sarah is that trained, fresh set of eyes I need, and her help shaping the beginning of the book and its tone has been amazing. You need someone who’s willing to tell you when you’re wrong, and I couldn’t respect that more in Sarah. Also, she and I think alike--her Twitter feed always makes me smile.
KV: Any last words of advice or encouragement you’d like to share with us?
AP: My advice is that you can’t stop trying. If you stop, you’ll fail. As long as you keep moving forward, you’re making progress, and that’s something of which you can always be proud. Keep telling yourself that you’re talented, you want this and that, in the end, it will be enough.
Thanks again, Ms. Plante, for sharing your success story with us. We can’t wait to see how the story develops from here. Good luck with MANAS!