Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Break It Down

While I'm waiting for a phone call from my agent (man, am I ever going to get tired of saying that? I don't think so. In fact, I think I'm going to see if I can figure out the exact number of times I can casually refer to my agent in any given conversation so that it remains impressive without being annoying. I'm thinking like fifty?), I thought I'd give you a little bit of a breakdown of the journey, statistically.

Flash is my second book. My first book, Keeping King Tut, I queried off and on for about a year. Sad, but true. In fact, I was still hoping (with a healthy dash of realistic melancholy) that something might happen with it clear until last June, when I started writing Flash and stopped caring about anything else. Now, with some healthy distance between us, I can look back fondly on Tut and realize exactly what was wrong with it. Middle grade? Who was I kidding? Pondering the nature of family and the impact of loss while pretending it was actually a story about two kids who go back in time to Egypt? Yeah. Not so much.

So, Flash. I wrote Flash in June. I think it took me less than thirty days--hard to remember because I was in Mexico for a week so I couldn't work on it. Then, after a few edits (thanks to my fabulous, FABULOUS readers including my sisters, some old friends, and the MoMos), I put together a query (made better thanks to the fabulous Evil Editor and the Minions) and started sending it out.

Here were are, three-and-a-halfish months later. Man, it felt like a long time, but I guess it really wasn't. At first I was very moody and grouchy. Then when I almost died in September I realized that, hey, getting an agent really ISN'T a life or death thing. Massive internal bleeding = life or death. Getting an agent = something I would like to happen. So, with that new perspective, I was much happier, and resolved to the idea that no matter how good Flash was, it might not happen.

Searching on Agent Query, I noticed Michelle's name again. I always liked her name--Wolfson is just a great last name--but had never queried her before because her tastes didn't include sci-fi or paranormal. Flash isn't hardcore either one of those, but it has a touch, so I held off. Then the last week of October I figured, what have I got to lose?

About two hours after I queried her, Michelle responded and asked for a partial. "Oh, that's nice," I thought. I sent it off.

Then, ten days later, she emailed me again asking for a full. "Yay!" I thought. Then I thought, "Oh no," because she asked for an exclusive, which I couldn't give (two other agents were already considering the full). I told her so, hoping very much that she would still be interested. She emailed me back and said that she was, and she would read quickly and get back to me soon.

So I'm thinking, hey, maybe I'll hear back from her before Thanksgiving, wouldn't that be nice?

That was Tuesday. Thu

[We now interrupt this post so that I can have a freak out moment: I LOVE MY AGENT. SHE IS AWESOME. We now return to your regularly scheduled blog post.]

rsday morning as I'm getting Nayna out the door for a playdate the phone rings. Which is unusual unless it's my final warning that my car warrantee is about to expire and I should renew now or hello may I please speak with (long pause) Kristen Brassiere? So I answer it and this lovely voice on the other end says, "Hi, Kiersten? This is Michelle Wolfson."

At which point my brain explodes.

So, I did what any person would who has been dreaming of such a call and resolved to herself that it would never happen. I hung up on her.

Ha! Well, actually, she asked if it was a good time and I had to admit that it wasn't but could I please call her back in two minutes (thinking please please don't change your mind before then)? She said I could. So I freaked out to my very confused brother-in-law, sent Nayna out the door, and typed a quick message to Natalie, with whom I was chatting at the time. I believe the exact text was HOLY CRAP THE CALL THE CALL THE CALL.

However, Nayna leaving naturally made Dojo start bawling because he didn't get to go, too. I knew I had to do something--whenever I imagined THE CALL in my head (and it was always all caps in my head) I was professional and collected, had my excellent list of questions to ask so I would sound informed and prepared, and most of all there were no screaming toddlers in the background. So I grabbed my cell phone, strapped Dojo into the stroller, and took him down to watch the bulldozers clearing lots nearby. Instead of my professional phone call, Michelle got to hear construction in the background.

Awesome. Better than a screaming toddler though.

Anyway--it was the best phonecall of my life. Seriously. Hearing an agent rave to you about your book? Best thing ever. I really felt like we connected well and that she was someone I would love to work with. I gave the other two agents a few days to finish my manuscript. One got back quickly, saying that she loved it but would step aside since I had another offer. Then, after considering it and talking with some of Michelle's other clients, I went ahead and let the other (very nice and gracious) agent know I was going to go with Michelle.

And there you have it. I just got off the phone with my agent (nope, not gonna get tired of saying that) and we have a plan and a timeframe for submission. And I am so, so excited, and so grateful that I get to work with her.

For those of you who are really curious, here is a stats list of my querying:

Total Agents Queried: 44
Query Rejections: 26
Partial Requests: 5
Partial Rejections: 3
Full Requests: 5
Full Rejections: 1 (on the same day I started losing my pregnancy. THAT was a great day.)

Total time querying was about three-and-a-half months.

I used three different query letters and got requests and rejections from each of them. I found all of my information on Agent Query. I also found out that publishing really IS a subjective business, and that there really WAS no doubt that Flash would be right for some other agent out there.

And I'm so glad it was Michelle!

Tomorrow I'll give you my extensive thank yous, along with an idea of where I go from here, since I now know after talking with Michelle, my agent. My agent Michelle. Who is an awesome agent. Did I mention she's my agent?


Natalie said...

Sigh, such a great story. I don't think I'll ever get tired of you saying "my agent" either.

JaneyV said...

What a great story. I particularly identify with the "putting screaming child in stroller to go watch bulldozers" bit of it. I have soooo been there - though not the part where I was on the phone to an agent part. Your agent. You have an agent. An agent you have.

You're right - it really never gets tired!

Looking forward to the next instalment!

bonz said...

Um, AWESOME. May I invite you to change the name of this blog to "Kiersten rocks"?

Renee Collins said...

Love it. It's so fun to hear these stories, to know that it really does work out for normal, not-connected-with-anyone-in-the-publishing-world people. :)

So, what were some of the questions you asked her in the phone call? I'm trying to write up my own list because, of course, an agent will be calling me any moment now. ;)

Kasie West said...

I love it! Thanks for breaking down the numbers for me. It's good to see how many you sent out, how many rejections, etc. I really need to hear all that right now. I sent out five more about 8 days ago, so I'm waiting for my rejections to roll in. It's good to see success after rejections.

I'm so glad you found an agent. Your agent sounds awesome. I hope you and your agent find success quickly. Your agent ... nope I can't think of another sentence using 'your agent'. :)

Kristina P. said...

Kiersten, this is awesome! I think that this calls for some celebratory pickle juice!

Kiersten said...

Well, I could probably make you tired of it, Natalie ; )

Janey, it's true. Bulldozers are wonderful things. So are agents!

Bonz, you may be onto something...

Renee, I can email you my list. The great thing about Michelle though is she pretty much answered all of those questions without me even asking them. Then anything else I was wondering about was cleared up when I talked to some of her other clients.

Kasie--it's true. Persistence! And let's not forget my failed book ; )

Whirlochre said...

Optimism squirts from my screen like cherryade from a broken drinks dispenser.

Thanks for sharing this with us.

Kiersten said...

Kristina, I think you might have to celebrate by yourself. Also, maybe in your picture you should be drinking pickle juice? Just a thought. Could be awesome.

Whirl--it's true. It actually happens (getting an agent, not cherryade squirting. Although I'm sure that happens, too). Who knew?

Monnik said...

This is great! Woo hoo!

cindy said...

love this story. and i also love how you took a risk and queried her even tho she didn't specifically say she repped the genre.

what is the most you have to lose? an R? to gain? representation from awesome agent!

i also did the same, i'd think, this agent doesn't say s/he likes fantasy, but s/he'll like *mine*. haha! i was a little bit crazy during query and conquer. haha!


Kayleigh said...

Haha, I never get tired of hearing "agent," either (of course, I'm sure it sends more of a thrill through you than it does for me...but I still think it's cool!). I'm so excited for you!!

*MARY* said...

Is it creepy that this whole you getting an agent thing is giving me goosebumps and making me cry tears of joy?

I hope so.

Rychelle said...

i'm so excited for you!

now i can say "i knew her when..."

Anthony said...

ZOOM with the queries ZOOM with the queries ZOOM with the queries STOP!

Kiersten said...

Thanks, Monnik, Kayleigh, and Rychelle!

Cindy, you're exactly right! Who's to say this isn't exactly their taste (even if they never knew they had that taste)?

Mary, it's both creepy and sweet and makes me love you even more.

Anthony--exactly. Except most of the time it felt more like crawl through the queries, sludge through the queries, despair through the queries, TRIUMPH!

Megs said...


Stephanie and Co. said...

Wow! Thanks for the breakdown. Seriously, that is awesome.

Seriously, so blessed! said...


Can I put one of your signed books in a giveaway one day andd let all my e-BFFs know that even tho I can't spell, I totally have a righter friend!??

B J Keltz said...

CONGRATULATIONS!!! Seriously, I could gush, but I'll stop with that. What awesomesauce, as Anthony would say.

Kiersten said...

Ha, Megs, that'll teach you to ever ignore my blog! I was going to call you today ; )

Thanks, Stephanie and BJ. I'm feeling pretty awesome!

Absolutely, TAMN. After all, your seriously so awesome life inspires me so much.

Crazy McWife said...

Wow! I've had such a long and hard day, it's refreshing to read your happy post!! Coongrats again! And ummm... can I have your autograph now? You know, before you forget all about that-one-girl you met from your blog? :)

Mary said...

Oh, wow! Congratulations!!!

And thank you for posting your query stats. :)

I left a comment yesterday, but Blogger must have devoured it. Hope this one is spared the same fate.

carrie said...

CONGRATULATIONS! I know I'm late in posting this but even a day late it is still great news. Ya know what I love best is that you can't get all famous and forget about me because I'm family, ha! And if you did try to forget about your poor sister-in-law you would at least feel a little guilty. Don't worry I'm not hitting you up for money, yet ;)

carrie said...

Why are my posts always eaten on your blog? (I have to admit my last try was pretty tasty)
So here I go again, CONGRATULATIONS! you are amazing I knew you could do it! I feel silly writing the same thing I just wrote because wouldn't it be terrible if they both posted.

sylvia said...

I still can't believe it. Wow, I can just imagine you getting that first phone call with the kids all in a jumble - well handled! I bet she didn't even notice the construction sounds. :)



I'm so happy :)

Aunty Em said...


There is nothing like a dream coming true (after a lot of hard work & patience....not just sitting around thinking really hard about it like I do)!

You are probably like the happiest person I know right now.

Congratulations, from the bottom of my beating heart!

You deserve it!!!

Kiersten said...

McWife--of course. And hey, no worries. I love anyone who leaves me comments ; )

Mary--Hooray, this comment was spared! Thanks!

Carrie, sorry, I should just turn off comment moderation. It's so much fun to see unread comments though! And thanks, and of course I can't forget you--hello, mother of my favorite nieces?? Plus I adore you ; )

And thanks, Sylvia and Aunty Em!

Nils said...

Congratulations :-)