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If you followed a link here from a comment I made on somebody's google blog, I would love to have you visit my blog, but this is no longer it. While I may occasionally post things here again once in a long while, virtually all my content will be at from here on out. If you were curious enough to come this far, why not give me one more click?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I met a girl who sang the blues, and I asked her for some Happy News

I can't bury this deep within the post like I'm typically inclined to, because I'm just too excited: I have an agent!!


I actually got two offers of representation, the first of which came on June 10th, so I've been keeping this under my hat until I'm fit to burst.

The first agent tried to call me on the last teacher work day before summer vacation. I had left my desk to run some errands--drop off paperwork and get signatures, and I very consciously left my phone on my desk, because what could I possibly need it for, right? When I came back, I saw I had missed a call . . . hm, New York/New Jersey area code . . . as I played the voice mail, it gradually dawned on me that I was receiving The Call. I'm surprised I didn't kick my desk over in my excitement. I let out a whoop that neighboring teachers could hear in their classrooms--and let me assure you, I am not generally given to whooping.

That call came from an agent I had met in person at Backspace--so you see? Go to Backspace!--who works at a fantastic house that is closed to queries unless they meet you at a conference--you see? Go to Backspace! This house was high on my list because they rep not only what I've written, but everything I could see myself possibly wanting to write some day, and because they had a fantastic reputation everywhere I looked.

For the rest of the day, I was not fit to work at all--but I still had a deadline! I had to call Lisa to come over when she was done and help me, and while I got my grades turned in on time, I was about five minutes late turning in my keys and had to wait until Monday to turn them in and get that last paycheck of the year.

So I went home and informed the other agents looking at my work that I had an offer now, and stood back and watched the flurry of activity. I did have one vaguely snarky reply, slapping my wrists for my presumption in nudging, but otherwise everybody was nice and enthusiastic. Even the agents who stepped aside did so with very kind words for my writing and my story, and a few said they simply didn't have time to get back to me within the time frame that I intended to get back to the offering agent. Within a week I had a second offer! Yay! Proof the first agent wasn't high on crack when she called me!

I always thought having any offer at all was a dream come true, but that having more than one--having a choice of agents--must just be sitting on cloud nine. I confess I wasn't terribly sympathetic when my wife went through this several months before. Now I know. You may not, though, and if not then you probably won't get how much anxiety this caused in me. For one thing, with choice comes the possibility of regret. Would I make the right choice? Almost more importantly, in this case, is I really have little stomach for letting people down. Here are two professionals who both loved my novel enough to offer to invest their time and resources into helping it see the light of day! Before last week I could count on one hand the number of people who'd read the full manuscript of Vanishing Act. To have somebody read it and love it and tell me what they loved about it . . . I just can't tell you what it meant to me. I wanted to hug them both; I wanted to give them both whatever they wanted.

Instead, I had to tell one of them that she wasn't my choice.

It was probably harder on me than it was on her. Agents know this is a business, and they know some other book'll come along that they'll love and want to sell. I can't help but feel like a bit of a jerk, though, even though rationally I know this is just how it goes.

Choose I did, though. I can't imagine anybody reading this doesn't already know from facebook or twitter or just from hearing me whooping all the way cross country, but I am now represented by Cameron McClure of the Donald Maass Literary Agency! :) I chose Cameron for a variety of reasons. Cameron had some ideas on how I could make my novel stronger that really resonated with me. As I read her e-mail, I found myself nodding my head and saying, Yes! That would totally make my book better! Also, I like the idea of being agent-cousins with my wife, who is also represented by DMLA. I don't know if most husbands and wives who write are at the same agency or at different ones--the only pair I know offhand is Scott Westerfeld and Justine Larbalestier, who are both represented by the Jill Grinberg agency--but it just seems cool to me to keep it in-house, so to speak. And heck, DMLA is also an amazing agency with a fantastic reputation--an agency that represents a boatload of my favorite speculative fiction writers. I'm thrilled to be agent cousins with so many amazing writers!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your securing the agent experience. This is Nirmal Gerow. I'd love to see you continue blogging the experience. Encouragement to those who follow. Congratulations.

Sarah Nicolas said...

:-) I'm so happy for you Joe!

And another pair of married writers? Jim Butcher and Shannon K. Butcher. :-)

Joe Iriarte said...

Thanks Nirmal and Sarah. :)

Oh, I know of tons of married writers . . . Stephen and Tabitha King, Steven Gould and Laura J. Mixon, Spider and Jeanne* Robinson, Debra Doyle and James MacDonald . . . What I'm not sure of is if they're repped by the same agency or not.


Nikki said...

Joe! I'm so happy for you! If I were in Florida, I'd buy you a drink with a flashing light bulb in it. I'll just slip off now and toast to you from TX. Without the light bulb ice.
I agree that Backspace is a life-changer - it's how I got my wonderful agent, and my subsequent book deals... I'm so happy for you AND Lisa!

Joe Iriarte said...

Thanks! I look forward to sharing glowing drinks with you and your husband again!

Tom Emmons said...

Well, looks like my comment had failed to post last time: time to correct that!

I've known for so many years how good both of you are. It's gratifying to see that my tastes are shared where it truly matters!

Congrats again!

Joe Iriarte said...

Aw, thank you!

Marlana said...

No one is more deserving than you!! Congratulations Joe. I'm so very happy for you.

Lori Dyan said...

What a fantastic success story! Your codeine tweet brought my over here and I'm so happy to have found your blog. A pal from my writing group landed her dream agent last month. Aspiring writers LOVE hearing these stories...and now you're one of them (& your wife, too!). Also thanks for the Backspace info - I'm planning to go!

Joe Iriarte said...

Thank you so much!

I can't recommend Backspace highly enough!