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Tenners Tell All: Getting the Call

It's my turn to start a Tenners Tell All discussion this week, and I thought I'd go for the story I most love hearing from other authors:

Where were you when you got The Call? And what was it like?

I actually got The Call twice: once when I got my agent, and once when my editor offered for the book. When I got the call from my agent, I thought I knew what I was expecting. Barry had sent me an email saying he really liked the book and would love to talk about it, so we set a date and time for the call. I prepared like crazy...because here's what I thought would happen: I thought this was My Big Chance to prove to Barry that he should take me on as a client.

You wouldn't BELIEVE how much I prepared for this call. I put together a little two-line pitch for Book 2 in the series, which I was in the middle of writing. I thought about how I could respond to any number of questions he might pose about my experience doing rewrites, or my plans for my career. I was SO nervous, I was actually trembling. Barry had been my dream agent ever since I first started thinking about marketing my novel, but I was truly convinced that he was way out of my league. He represented GREAT authors, COOL authors...DEFINITELY not normal people like me.

My husband made me a hot chocolate for confidence five minutes before the phone was due to ring. I sat down at a desk with my spine straight, because that's what lots of interview advisors recommend for telephone interviews. I prayed not to stumble over my words.

The phone rang, exactly on time. I answered and was really proud of myself for not letting my voice shake. Barry was warm and friendly. We talked about how much he loved the book. (Well, he talked. I just thought, OMGOMGOMGOMG over and over again.) Then he took a deep breath.

I stiffened. I was ready! Whatever he was going to ask me, I would answer it RIGHT! I would--

"I would love to represent you," he said, and then he launched into a list of his plans for the book.

I went into total shock. He gave me lots of good reasons why he was the right agent for me (and he was right!); I tried to sound articulate instead of flabbergasted. I don't think I asked him a single question, because it had never occurred to me ahead of time that I might want to interview him rather than vice versa!

Since three other agents currently had the full manuscript, I had to give them a week to finish reading it before I could make a decision. During that week, I finally thought of the good, smart questions to ask, and I asked all the agents the same ones so I could do a fair comparison. But in the end, I went straight for Barry, and I was totally right - he really has been my dream agent.

Just about two months later, the phone rang while my husband and I were in the middle of watching a TV documentary. Since we were in the middle of something, I let it go to the answering machine. Then I recognized Barry's voice, and lunged to grab the phone and carry it out into the study.

"We've got our first offer," he said.

"Oh," I said, fighting to sound calm and professional. Everything felt completely surreal. Even if it was just a dream, though, I wanted to make sure I was mature and grownup about it all, not like some geeky amateur.

He told me the editor and house. Then he told me how much they were offering as their starting figure and terms.

It was real. It wasn't a dream.

I started giggling hysterically, and I couldn't stop. I was still giggling like a TOTALLY unprofessional madwoman and feeling like I was going to pass out from sheer shock when I hung up the phone five minutes later. I went back into the living room where my husband was waiting expectantly.

"They want to publish my book," I told him.

He stared at me. I stared back. We started laughing together, in pure disbelief and astonishment.

Sometimes I still can't believe it really happened.

But it's still pure magic.

***

What about you guys? What are your "Call" stories?

Comments

( 50 comments — Leave a comment )
mandyhubbard
Sep. 30th, 2009 07:32 pm (UTC)
That's so cute! And how amazing you were actually WITH your hubby when it happened.....
stephanieburgis
Sep. 30th, 2009 07:43 pm (UTC)
Thanks Mandy! I was sooo lucky that Patrick was with me at the time, both times...otherwise I think I might have exploded! What about you?
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(no subject) - stephanieburgis - Sep. 30th, 2009 07:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
takumashii
Sep. 30th, 2009 07:45 pm (UTC)
My usual library was closed for renovations, so I was sent off to another library to work. I had requested to take Thursday and Friday off because my agent hinted that I might be hearing something around then. Today was Wednesday, and I was working at an unfamiliar library with unfamiliar people. Tuesday had been full of rain, I had gotten home three hours late and soaking wet, and I was still feeling a little like death.

I was answering someone's reference question on the phone and I had someone else on the line. The guy sitting beside me, who was not a trained librarian, picked up the call. "Yes, we have that book," he said, without bothering to check. When I got off the phone he said, "Go find this book."

So I looked for it, and I couldn't find it, and I was embarrassed and panicky that I couldn't find it, and I was mad at him for saying that we had it without bothering to check the shelves. And I went in a corner and cried a little bit (YES REALLY) and I went back to the library desk. And just as I was getting calmed down, the branch manager called to me, "Emily, I'm transferring a call to you."

"Oh, what fresh hell is this?" I thought. "I'm getting in trouble because we didn't have the book the patron wanted. Or I'm getting in trouble for something else. I'm probably getting in trouble."

"Library reference, this is Emily, how can I help you?" I said in my very best cheerful voice. Which was not very good, let me tell you.

It was my agent, and she had sold my book.

I think I said, very quietly, "Oh my God." There are some limits on professional phone behavior in a library.

In a few minutes one of my coworkers came to relieve me at the library desk, and I went to the back room and told everybody, and I called my mom and my sister, and I just quietly floated through the rest of the day. And then I went to Duane Reade and bought a lipstick and to Barnes and Noble and bought a book.

I remember feeling very strange and lightheaded, like I wasn't entirely in my own body. And a little frightened that I was really going to get published, that my book would really be out in the world for everyone to see from my second-grade teacher to my ex-boyfriend. It was one of those hot and glorious summer days and I was young and in New York City and I was unstoppable.
jberkj
Sep. 30th, 2009 08:13 pm (UTC)
Emily! This is great! Such a cool story. And so funny to me because I also got the call while working at the library. My agent called my cell. He said, "Are you sitting down?" I said, "Don't say anything that will make me scream. Remember I work in a library." He said, "I can't promise that ..." :)
(no subject) - stephanieburgis - Sep. 30th, 2009 08:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lindsey_leavitt - Oct. 1st, 2009 03:19 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - stephanieburgis - Sep. 30th, 2009 08:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
cynjay
Sep. 30th, 2009 07:53 pm (UTC)
Love these stories!

I'm notorious for hating my cell phone. I really, really dislike talking to one person while in the midst of a bunch of other people. My agent had said that we were probably going to get offers during a certain time period, so of course, I'd spent that day and the next waiting by the phone. Finally figuring that it wasn't going to happen, I went shopping. You guessed it, "the call" came in the middle of a crowded Target with two cranky kids hanging off the cart. I think my reaction sort of underwhelmed my agent and I got off the phone fast, but I was shaking so badly that we had to leave the store. The minute I got home, I locked myself in the bedroom, called my agent back and burst into tears. Too cool.
stephanieburgis
Sep. 30th, 2009 09:15 pm (UTC)
I'm terrible with cell phones too. I love this story!
sbrezenoff
Sep. 30th, 2009 08:11 pm (UTC)
I never got The Call, per se. In fact, when my now-official-editor told me he would be making an offer, we had just finished looking at the pages together over beers at a local pizza restaurant. I expressed my gratitude and excitement--i think--and then he left. I celebrated right there and then, after calling my wife, by ordering and devouring the 6-dollar chocolate brownie sundae. Bigger than my head, I kid you not.
stephanieburgis
Sep. 30th, 2009 09:14 pm (UTC)
Ha! That is so cool.
amybre_white
Sep. 30th, 2009 08:19 pm (UTC)
THE CALL
How fun!

I got the call at about 5:45 pm on a Friday in mid-December. I had given up hope on hearing anything from my agent that week, because it was so late in the day and the week. And I was about to give up hope on the entire year, because we all know how things are in the publishing industry around Christmas.

However, I had instructed my three children that if my agent ever called, that was a really good thing and that they must find me sooner than immediately. So I was hiding out in my basement office typing away when my middle son came running in holding the phone.

"It's your agent, Mom! Does that mean you sold the book?" he yelled excitedly.

I was too terrified to speak, because we'd had some disappointments. And then I heard the magic words: "Amy, we have an offer from Virginia Duncan at Greenwillow."

I started nodding hysterically at my son who immediately ran out of the room, whooping it up to his siblings, while I tried to listen to the details.

You know how they all dance in the Charlie Brown Christmas show? That's what I was doing for the rest of the weekend -- the dance of pure elation!
stephanieburgis
Sep. 30th, 2009 09:14 pm (UTC)
Re: THE CALL
Hee. I love that your son said that! And I love that all three of your kids were celebrating while you had The Call. :)
Re: THE CALL - lindsey_leavitt - Oct. 1st, 2009 03:20 am (UTC) - Expand
kaerfel
Sep. 30th, 2009 08:33 pm (UTC)
Great story! I never get tired of hearing Call stories.

Like you, I had two Call stories--one for when I got my agent, one for when I sold the book.

The Call from my now agent, Holly Root, happened while I was at work. I didn't have my phone (no one ever calls me), but my spouse called to tell me I'd missed a call from her and she'd left a message, saying she wanted to talk and see if we were a good fit. I was OMG! I left work and went home to get the cell phone and call her back. We had an amazing conversation--she loved my book (the first time anyone in the industry had used the L-word, despite the fact that I already had an offer from a small pub). She was awesome, and completely the opposite of the crappy agent I'd had before. After so many ups and downs and thinking the best book I'd ever written was used goods, that phone call, so full of optimism and awesomeness, really meant the world to me. I even forgot to eat lunch--and with my blood sugar problems, that does NOT happen (unless I'm hyped up on adrenaline like I was that day).

The second call was when Holly called to tell me we had an offer from Egmont. I was at work, carrying the phone around with me at that point, and she'd already told me the day before that we were getting good rumblings from Egmont. The day before had felt like a nightmare--I was so nervous and anxious about my submission, and my grandparents-in-law got in a horrible car crash, and I was stuck at work, feeling like there were all these things going on outside my control. (Which, well, there were.) So it was a huge relief to get the call of good news! She told me they could publish as early as April or May 2010 (a year earlier than my other offer), they'd sent her an amazing market plan, and she told me how much they were offering. It was a lot more than my other offer, and a lot more than I'd made at my day job the year before. But I was just kind of like, "Okay," really calmly, the full meaning of all that not hitting. And then she was like, "And they want to send you to Comic-con!" and then I flipped out and was like, "OMG, SQUEEEE!!!! I've always wanted to go!" After Holly assuring me they'd used the L-word, I accepted their offer, and they've been marvelous to work with ever since.
stephanieburgis
Sep. 30th, 2009 09:14 pm (UTC)
OMG, Comic-con!!!

I love these stories. :)
lindsey_leavitt
Sep. 30th, 2009 08:38 pm (UTC)
A couple of weeks into submission, my agent called to say she'd met with some editors and was expecting some offers soon. The news didn't really sink in. The publishers could still change their minds. I spent the weekend preparing myself for all the ways I could still be disappointed. Maybe they'd ask me to re-write it using cafeteria ladies instead of princesses. I had a traumatic experience with my cafeteria lady involving spilled peaches and wet pants (my own). I didn't think I could relive it.
That Wed, hubby's car broke down AGAIN and I had to pick him up downtown with two cranky kids. My agent called just as I arrived at his school, and asked in an excited voice (shocking, considering she's usually extremely, calmly... British) if I was sitting down.
Which is either a really good or really bad question to be asked.
I had hubby take the wheel. It had also started pouring rain out, so the reception was a little shoddy. My agent informed me we had received an offer from a house we didn't even know was interested. She told me the amount and that they wanted three books. I couldn't believe it! Three books! I went on talking to her for a few minutes, but when she made mention of the deal category. I was confused.
"Wait," I said. "So... that's for all the books, right?"
"No."
"No what?"
"No. That sum is per book."
I know it's banned books week, but I'm going to censor here what I said next.
We ended up selling it to that house at auction later in the week. But I don't think anything can trump, will ever trump, driving in that storm with my family right there, bawling my eyes, explaining to my toddlers the meaning of happy tears.
stephanieburgis
Sep. 30th, 2009 09:06 pm (UTC)
What a wonderful story! :)
seaheidi
Sep. 30th, 2009 09:01 pm (UTC)
I LOVE this story!
stephanieburgis
Sep. 30th, 2009 09:05 pm (UTC)
Thanks Heidi!
jennreese
Sep. 30th, 2009 09:09 pm (UTC)
Steph, this story made me cry tears of joy. I am so profoundly happy for you.
stephanieburgis
Sep. 30th, 2009 09:16 pm (UTC)
Thank you SO MUCH, Jenn!!!! *HUGS*
(Anonymous)
Sep. 30th, 2009 09:16 pm (UTC)
Such good stories. I don't have a flashbulb moment of getting the call---how unfortunate for a teller of stories. My agent left a message on my machine which I probably played after depositing a carload of groceries on the kitchen floor (which is always how I imagined it would be). Before he got cut off, he said it reminded him of Edith Wharton and that was it for me, I was a goner. Years earlier I had thrown down my pen saying, I can't write this book until I read Edith Wharton's major works!

Skip ahead, the actual deal came out of several back and forths, rather than a lightning bolt out of the blue sky. I always thought I'd do cartwheels down the double yellow of the highway, but like many of the comments above, we're all self-protective until the ink is dry. What's important is he did the perfect matchmaking and I got the best imaginable editor for me, and for this book.

There'll be other lightning bolts I suppose.
jamerichards
Sep. 30th, 2009 09:20 pm (UTC)
Whoops, I guess I wasn't logged in. That was weird.
(no subject) - lindsey_leavitt - Oct. 1st, 2009 03:22 am (UTC) - Expand
mindiscott
Sep. 30th, 2009 09:37 pm (UTC)
Where were you when you got The Call? And what was it like?

I was sitting at my desk in my home office. It was January 6, 2009 -- my first writing day of the year.

While I wasn't expecting a call from anyone, it had already started out as an exciting day. The year 2008 had been pretty brutal as far as my writing was concerned. I'd finished revising my manuscript in February 2008 and spent the whole rest of the year collecting requests and rejections. At the end of December, I had just received my first glimmer of hope: A revision request from an agent.

So, on January 6th, I was sitting at my desk with a hard copy of the manuscript, making notes for myself on the draft. My phone rang. I didn't recognize the number. It was from a non-Washington-state area code.

I think I had the idea that it could be an agent. But every time I'd had a call from an unknown number during the past eleven months, I'd thought it could be an agent, so this wasn't anything new.

I said, "Hello?"

A man said, "May I please speak with Mindi?"

My heart rate started going super fast, even though it was still entirely possible that this was a survey taker calling or something. I said, "This is Mindi."

He said, "This is Jim McCarthy with Dystel & Goderich Literary Management."

Jim had just read my partial and requested the I email my full manuscript the previous day. I'd stayed up late that night reading every blog he'd ever posted on his agency website, wishing and hoping that he would love my book. And now he was calling me!

My pulse started beating in my ears around this time. I think Jim asked how I was doing. I think I told him I was doing well and asked how he was doing. Or maybe it happened the other way around.

Then he said, "I finished reading your novel, SCRATCHING AT THE 8-BALL. [As it was then called.] And I'm calling to offer representation."

I really don't remember the specifics of how the conversation went after that. I know I got up from my desk somewhere in there and moved to the couch in front of the window. He said a whole bunch of words in a row, to which I replied, "I'm sorry. Can you repeat that?"

After we spoke, I literally ran around my house, then I called and emailed just about everyone I'd ever met.

I still get tears in my eyes when I think about that day. I'd spent years trying to get an agent and it finally happened. Obviously, getting the book deal a few months later was important, and a real culmination of my hard work. But the call where I was offered representation was the very beginning of that life-changing feeling. If that makes any sense...
lazy_iris
Oct. 1st, 2009 12:31 am (UTC)
I love this story <3
(no subject) - lindsey_leavitt - Oct. 1st, 2009 03:23 am (UTC) - Expand
rkcharron
Sep. 30th, 2009 09:44 pm (UTC)
Hi :)
Thank you for the great post on your Call.
I get so inspired when I read them.
Also thanks to the commentors above me for their additions.
I haven't had The Call yet. That is a dream I am eager to fulfill!
:)
Thanks again,
I'll be smiling for hours now.
:)
All the best,
RKCharron
xoxo
stephanieburgis
Oct. 1st, 2009 08:21 am (UTC)
Re: Hi :)
I'm so glad these stories are good inspiration. I can't wait to read your story in the near future! :)
daisywhitney
Sep. 30th, 2009 11:59 pm (UTC)
I knew my book was going to the board meeting on Aug. 12 and knew a call of some sort would come that afternoon around 5 or 6 NY time. So naturally I couldn't do anything all day! I organized my iTunes, posted a blog entry and then just sat and stared at the phone! At some point my dog ate my bluetooth so when I got in the car at 3 California time to pick my daughter up from school I had no way to talk if the call came since you can't talk unless you are hands-free out here (new law). The call came at 315 when I was about to pull onto the highway with my daughter. Fortunately I had about a minute before my agent got on the phone so I could pull over. The first thing she said was "I have exciting news." I started crying after that! And that's my story! (And I have a new bluetooth)
jjhoutman
Oct. 1st, 2009 12:02 am (UTC)
The Call
I got the call on July 3, 2008 at around 9:00 am.

I was sitting at table by the window in my favorite coffee shop, editing biochemistry lessons for medical students. I recognized my editor immediately. We had met at an SCBWI event the previous fall She has a lovely quiet soothing voice. Her talk inspired major changes in my ms, so she had already had quite a bit of editorial input.

I was a bit surprised by the call, since I had only queried with three chapters two weeks previously. On July 1, she requested a full (gotta love the electronic age!). So it had been two days. No editorial meeting. Just an offer.

I called hubby and had to leave a message. "I'll go home at lunch and put the champagne in the fridge. It should be cold by the time you get home." He had bought me a lovely bottle for this very occasion 18 months previously.

I emailed my various writing/critiquing/blogging buddies. I told the barista and bought myself a mudslide cookie.

I'm hoping to have my release party at that coffee shop. After all, a good deal of EDDY was written there.

Jacqueline
deegarretson
Oct. 1st, 2009 01:42 am (UTC)
Re: The Call
Even if you don't have your party there, you have to serve mudslide cookies!
Re: The Call - lindsey_leavitt - Oct. 1st, 2009 03:24 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: The Call - jamerichards - Oct. 1st, 2009 03:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
denisejaden
Oct. 1st, 2009 12:38 am (UTC)
I had prep for all my "calls" except one. After speaking with my not-yet editor about her vision for my book, I hung up and was so excited I told my 5 year old son we were going to call Daddy right away. I went to pick up the phone when it rang in my hands. After saying hello, my agent thrilled-ly (not a word, I know!) told me of our offer. Of course my son, still thinking it was Daddy on the phone was yelling at the top of his lungs about Batman. So...yeah.

"Um, what was that number?" I had to repeate a few times. But if my son hadn't been screaming, I probably would have been.

I love reading everyone else's stories! So fun and exciting and really brings me back!
anastasiahopcus
Oct. 1st, 2009 01:57 am (UTC)
I love these call stories! I wish I had an exciting one to add but truthfully, I was so amazed, shocked, and ecstatic that all I can remember thinking is "The publishing company I want, wants me too!" At that point my mind's kill switch got triggered. I hit emotion overload and everything after that was a blur.
deegarretson
Oct. 1st, 2009 02:10 am (UTC)
I remember feeling overwhelming relief with both agent and editor emails and calls, because I could finally, after so many years, have something to show for all those words. I spent several years working on mysteries, a genre dear to my heart, but I never made any progress towards getting them published. I had reached a point where I was close to giving up on the publishing dream all together, but I thought I would make one more attempt, and try a different type of story.

I'm glad agents don't care what time of day or in my case, night, they get queries, because with my query, partial and full manuscripts my agent requested, I tweaked them all and ended up sending them in the middle of the night. With two kids, I do my best work when everyone is sleeping.

I'm not much of phone person, so it was tough to sound professional when my agent called to offer. It was tough to even sound coherent.

When my editor first called, my daughter had just come home from school and wanted to show me some artwork. I motioned to her that I couldn't talk, so she laid down on the floor and gave me the evil eye throughout the conversation. I was glad I managed to get through the call with nothing worse than that!

fabulousfrock
Oct. 1st, 2009 02:34 am (UTC)
I love hearing the stories! It's such a life-changing moment. Gives me chills.

I sent Magic Under Glass out to agents three different times, each time after drastic revisions. The third time I sent it out, Jennifer Laughran was a new agent who hadn't been around the last time I sent it out, but I'd been dying to have something to send her. She was everything I wanted in an agent -- completely awesome taste in books, new and hungry, hilarious, with an awesome agency...

But I had been looking for an agent for three years and sometimes it seemed like the moment would never come. On July 3rd, 2008, just after midnight, when I was poking around on the Internet like I usually do not expecting good news, an e-mail came from her said, "I love this! And I want it!"

I just could not believe it. Of course, we talked the next day and I had some other fulls out and had some other offers, but Jennifer really was my top choice. I was so amazed that someone I wanted actually wanted me too. There was a Turkish restaurant I'd earmarked for my celebration restaurant, so my mom took me there that next week for a celebration lunch. (Oddly, I found out Jenn actually lived in Turkey at one point!)

After that, things happened very fast. Jen sent my book out a few weeks later and my future editor read it in 24 hours and wanted it, but then we had to wait a few agonizing weeks for marketing to approve. My agent had given me the heads up an offer was coming -- actually, at that point I expected it from a different house -- but when she called I was so stunned... Even after I hung up the phone I was just... dazed. I had been so focused on the agent search that I couldn't believe the book sale was going so...well. I kept expecting something bad to happen.

I actually thought that day was the end of negotiations and I went off to my retail job the next day very happy. I was expecting "the deal memo" so that evening at work I called my boyfriend and asked him to check my email and tell me what it said. Lo, there was a deal memo but it said that there had been some interest from another house and the original house was now offering more. I TOTALLY did not expect that, and THAT was the point when I went in the stockroom and silent-screamed with joy.
jackiemorsekess
Oct. 1st, 2009 03:53 am (UTC)
Steph, that is an awesome story!

For me, well, the Call was from my first agent, and then the sale was from my first publisher. Adult career, not YA. I got very lucky when it came to getting an agent (for HELL'S BELLES, at any rate; that was the third book I'd written but the first one that was ready for prime time -- actually, the first book scored me triple-digit rejection letters). I wound up getting five offers of representation, so I had to do some heavy decision making. (And then I changed agents two years later.)

HELL'S BELLES sold fast: one week after I signed with my agent, he called me to tell me there was a pre-preemptive offer for three books. My husband was home at the time. Boy, did I shout for joy!

(I have to say...in retrospect, getting my first agent and my first sale sort of blew the curve for me on expectations of how long things **really** take in publishing!)
onlyemarie
Oct. 1st, 2009 05:18 am (UTC)
I got two calls.

The first was such a relief it was ridiculous. And it was kind of two calls. I had sent off my book proposal by request months before and never heard back from the agent. Months after I had given up hope, he wrote and said "hey, whatever happened to that proposal I asked for?" Stupid mail! I quickly sent off the proposal and he called a few days later to discuss. At some point in the conversation he was asking me for edits, and then he handed me off to his wife and business partner, who gave me some suggestions. I somehow blurted out "does this mean you guys are taking on the project?" and she said "Oh, yeah!" and thus I was agented.

The second call...was an email. Three years after trying and failing to sell the first incarnation of the book, we sent the proposal off to 21 houses. Larry sent it out on a Friday. On Monday morning I went to check my email and the first thing I read was "we have an offer." I immediately burst into weak tears and went looking for my boyfriend. Then I talked to seven more editors and despaired because I didn't see eye to eye with the ed. who had offered and had fallen in love with another editor. Larry emailed the next morning to tell me we had an offer from Dream Editor.

I was at the gym and my phone service got cut off due to a payment snafu (great timing) and in a frenzy of worry I paid it with another card and called him. I was standing in the reception area of the gym with people walking back and forth around me when he said "You might as well crack open the champagne tonight. We'll have a deal by Monday."

And we did.

I'm loving all of your stories. Is there anything more harrowing, ridiculous, and fun than getting your first offer?

- Erin (a 10er with a non-fiction book)
stephanieburgis
Oct. 1st, 2009 01:26 pm (UTC)
Oh my God, getting lost in the mail is every writer's fear! I love that story and I love that you got your dream editor after all.
(no subject) - onlyemarie - Oct. 1st, 2009 03:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
karenkincy
Oct. 1st, 2009 06:46 am (UTC)
My editor first emailed to say he would like to talk soon, and I was suspicious enough of the submission process to not get my hopes up too high, too fast. This am-I-dreaming? feeling lasted throughout my call with him--I don't think anything had penetrated my skull yet at this point. As he talked about his excellent plans for my book, and how much he loved it, all I could do was make affirmative noises and nod. Then I thanked him, said goodbye, and started the "Squeeee!" process, which involved a sort of happy voodoo dance around my apartment. Probably to counteract all the previous voodoo rituals where I threatened to burn my manuscript if it didn't behave itself. Ahem.

Soon, I became a little more panicky when I realized I wanted an agent to negotiate the deal for me--and whoops, I didn't have one yet. Luckily, an agent responded to my email within ten minutes and said she would try to read the manuscript overnight. I sent it off, and went to my job in zombie-mode. I think the author part of my brain had to shut off so I could function. In those days, I worked as a tour guide at my college, so I left my cellphone in the office while I brought prospective students around the campus. When I came back from this tour, there was a voice mail from my future agent: she would like to talk soon. I'm not even sure she said much about whether she loved my novel or not, yet; got to crank up that suspense!

So I ran home and called her back. Then came the magic words: she read the manuscript over her lunch break, loved it, and wants to work with me. My brain was scrambled with excitement at this point, so I said I would get back to her soon, since I had other interest. It took me around an hour of nail-biting--with both my boyfriend and my mom telling me, "What are you waiting for?! This is THE agent!"--before I called her back and accepted her offer.

So it all happened in the span of a day! Crazy, huh? But I wouldn't have asked for it any other way.
jessica_leader
Oct. 1st, 2009 05:33 pm (UTC)
Ooh, I am loving these stories, too! I'm especially impressed at those of you who jumped and leaped and cried with little kids around. "Explaining 'happy tears'" indeed!

I met my editor first, then found an agent, so the first "call" was from Editor Kate. I knew the acquisition team would be meeting to discuss my book around mid-October, and when Columbus Day rolled around, I thought, "This is the only day I'm excited about this week, because it's the only day they won't have work." What, did I think the publishing industry was humane or something?

I biked off to my after-school tutoring gig, not thinking about anything, and waited to check messages until 6. There was one from Kate around 3 saying, "So, hi, Jess, it's Kate. Give...me...a call." And I thought, crap, it's a no, but she's being polite and telling me over the phone. Then there was *another* message around 6 saying, "I have to leave work, but I can't wait to tell you any longer: we want to make an offer on NICE AND MEAN."

Yeah! Yahoo! Hopping and squealing all over the parking lot. The people I worked with, who were not my favorites at all, were actually the first to hear the news, and they were very happy about it. Then I called my mom and my now-wife and my best friend and walked all over the neighborhood blabbing it on the phone, and by the time I was done, I was totally lost. It actually took me about 5 minutes to find my way back to my bike. But who cared? NICE AND MEAN was going to be a book!
kristinamcbride
Oct. 1st, 2009 05:34 pm (UTC)
Love Love Love reading these stories! I mean, tears and all for most of them. Great idea, Stephanie! I'll have to post mine when I have time . . . but it seems like I keep losing time every time I turn around.
sharimaurer
Oct. 1st, 2009 09:39 pm (UTC)
I was supposed to be paying bills but I started reading and couldn't stop. What great stories!

My agent Call story goes like this. It's afterschool in my house and the usual chaos of trying to listen to 3 kids, sort through the homework, get out the door for activities, etc. The phone rings and my daughter sees Marlene Stringer's Caller ID and hands me the phone to answer. I had sent Marlene the ms the night before, so I figured she was calling to tell me something was wrong with what I sent and to please re-send (I know, odd call to get from an agent, but I couldn't comprehend the possibility that she had already read it).

I answered the phone and Marlene introduced herself and said the 4 words that all authors crave, "I love your book." She told me she had been up all night reading it and then we spoke for a while about all things personal and professional. I knew there were questions I was supposed to be asking, but they had all flown from my head.

When the "offer" call came in, I was at my son's baseball game. I don't think I'll ever be able to pass that field without remembering the shock of getting that call.
karenhealey
Oct. 3rd, 2009 05:47 pm (UTC)
These are such awesome stories!

My agent call is very similar to yours, Stephanie, except I had a referral from Holly, so I had queried Barry exclusively to start - why not, he was on the top of my list right? When he turned me down, I could go onto the others!

I wanted to do it all right, so I ordered a number of American stamps for the SSAE I was including in my query. And because I'm a geek, I ordered Marvel heroes stamps. When they arrived, I stuck Electra, Sue Storm and Ms Marvel on the SSAE, reasoning that when I was rejected, it would at least be with awesome women on the envelope.

Then Barry requested the full via email.

Then he arranged a call.

Halfway through the call, when he was discussing which editors he was planning to send to and what revisions he was recommending, I interrupted.

"Um, excuse me? Um. Does this mean... I mean are you representing me? Or is this stuff that will happen if you decide-"

He laughed. "I'm definitely representing you."

"Oh my God."

"That is, if you want-"

"YES. OH MY GOD."

There was some more conversation, but I couldn't tell you a word of it. I was floating in a soft pink joy.

I never got my Marvel stamps back.
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