“It is not so much what we accomplish in life that proves what we are…it’s what we overcome.”
Around ten minutes after putting up yesterday’s post, I checked my email, as I do probably fifteen times a day. When I had one new message, I assumed it was to let me know that someone had liked or commented on my post.
Well, it wasn’t. It wasn’t from WordPress at all, actually.
It was from a literary agent who I’d submitted a query letter, synopsis and sample pages to in the middle of May. Seeing as the email was only a few paragraphs, I assumed it was a rejection letter and was about to add it to the appropriate email folder when I read it over more carefully.
I’m not the kind of person who easily freaks out over news, whether it’s good or bad. I take it in, and my brain doesn’t let me react until I’ve had time to process it and make sure the news is worth freaking out over.
Well, this was.
The email started out like any other: thank you for your submission, etc. Then, the sentence my brain tripped over:
“I would be delighted to look at the full manuscript.”
Not first fifty pages. Not a partial request at all. FULL. MANUSCRIPT.
My eyes jumped down to the rest of the email, which gave me guidelines for submitting the entire novel and ended by saying they were “looking forward to the read!”
Whenever I fantasized about getting my first positive response from an agent, I pictured it in one of two settings: either in my house, where I could yell at the top of my lungs, or else in a room with all of my closest friends, so we could yell together.
As it happened, God gave me the second scenario. I was sitting in a beach house with eight of my closest friends in the world, and when I read the email, they were right there. As soon as I finished reading, I screamed, and I think my eyes got a little watery. My friends, who later told me they thought someone had died, all rushed over to the laptop to read what I’d just read.
My girlfriend got there first and immediately hugged me. Then she caught my laptop as everyone else hugged me, too. Last was my friend who first read my story concept back in 10th grade, edited it, and told me to turn it into a manuscript. She and I hugged the longest, and I’m pretty sure she was the most excited.
Then I stood up, took a bunch of deep breaths, and got out my phone to call my parents. They were just as excited and kept telling me how proud they were. Then I called my two Ideal Readers, who both congratulated me and wished me luck.
But then, because my brain sucks, I snapped back into task mode.
I was on the clock now. I opened my manuscript and started to read it over, right there. Not in the fast scanning kind of way, but in the way I would read any other book. I sat there checking for any last minute errors whatsoever, and to my relief, I didn’t find any.
After about an hour of this, I got up and paced around the living room, my brain whirring. I thought through the email from the agent, the exact wording they used, what they wanted and how I would write up a response. I made a list in my head: how I would need to research “responding to full requests” for etiquette tips, and how I needed to finish the read-through of my book, and how I needed to tell everyone on Facebook, and how crazy all this was.
I spent all of today finishing up the manuscript read-through and crafting an email response back. And, tomorrow morning, I hit the send.
Alright. Since I’m writing and have the chance to organize my thoughts, let’s look at this from an objective standpoint. The pros here: I don’t know how many kids (with no publishing creds, to boot) have gotten full requests from literary agents, but I don’t think it’s that many. So that’s something to be excited about. Other pro: this was one of the first responses to a revised version of my query, which means I might have finally found a version that works. So even if it doesn’t work out with this agent, there’s hope for me as a writer in general. This means that my letter worked, and can work again.
Cons: I have no experience in submitting fulls. Other con: even though a full request is awesome, 99% of them are still rejected. My odds have jumped up from a 0.5% to around a 1% success rate. Still a long way away from publication.
But, I can’t dwell on the odds now. Why should I? An agent wants to read my book! The whole thing! Not part of it, all of it! Like I said, I don’t know how many kids have gotten that far with an agent, but I couldn’t find any cases of it.
So for now, I’m just excited. And of course during the next few weeks I’ll be biting my nails so badly that I might have difficulty writing blog posts. But, I’ll do my best.
Thank you to everyone who supported me and wished me luck. Here’s to one step closer.