Monday, August 15, 2011
Liz's Lair: Getting the Call
Anyone who has ever sent off a submission to an agent or a publisher dreams about getting the call. If you're like me, you assumed it would happen a few days after you'd sent in the submission, and the agent/editor would gush over your story and promise you a place on the bestsellers list in three months.
Seriously, I really believed that. I knew my writing didn't totally suck and the plot line of my story was decent. I looked up agents in Publisher’s Marketplace and decided on an agent from California.
Anyway, it seemed like I had been writing my Colombia story, SHATTERED DREAMS forever, and I wondered if I really knew how to finish a book. So, I tried my hand at a much shorter YA titled NEXT DOOR TO AN ANGEL? Because it involved an undercover cop in a small-town high school, it was rejected all over New York.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
I printed out a copy of this wonderful story and shipped it off to this California agent who specialized in TV and movie deals. I can already hear you snickering. I received a really nice rejection letter from him, bursting my dream call bubble. Looking back, I can tell you the man was truly gentle on me. Years later when I revisited the story, I decided I should be crowned the queen of head hopping.
Anyway, I tell you this story to show you the beginning of many rejections to come—some really nice and some generic. By this time I had finished my Colombia story and was not having luck with that one either—until Kelly Ferrara called me one morning. I remember that conversation like it was yesterday.
Kelly: "I read your manuscript, and it made me cry. You really have a talent with characterization. I loved your story, and I'd like to offer you representation."
I can promise you, it's worth the wait to hear someone say they love your story. Unfortunately, Kelly, who was a partner at Book Cents Literary, Inc., didn't have much luck selling SHATTERED DREAMS, either, and nine months later, she left the agency to pursue a personal goal. That's when her partner, Christine Witthohn, inherited me. I remember the first time I met my curly haired, live–wire agent. It was instant chemistry, personality wise. Now all we had to do was sell a book together. Two years and 5 months and three completed manuscripts later, I remember picking up the phone.
Christine: "This is the call."
Me: "The call?"
Christine: "Yes. We got an offer."
I must've screamed bloody murder because my husband came running in from the other room.
Me: "They want three books," I told him.
Then he kissed me. I couldn't have scripted it any better.
So now I want to hear about your call or about how you imagine it will be. Get creative. It's only us having fun. Give us your dream first call or tell us about your real one.
Before I leave you, I want to tell you about another call I got a few days ago that made my heart swell almost as much as both of the calls I shared with you. It was from my three-year-old grandson.
"Nana, I pooh poohed on the potty."
How great is that?