18 Jan 2022by taliatuck

2022: How I Got My Agent, How I’m Still Managing to Complain, What’s Next?

2022: How I Got My Agent, How I’m Still Managing to Complain, What’s Next?

2021 for me, was probably not unlike anyone else’s. I’m not ashamed to say it sucked. I had COVID. Twice. The first time in January 2021, the second time between Christmas and New Year. I started the year with it, then closed it out with it. It framed my year in more ways than one.

I won’t go too much into it because everyone has their own story, but between having to change careers and relearn how to live in this newfound fuckery, I lost sight of my personal goals.

In early 2019, I began writing a manuscript. By Fall 2019, I had started the query process. I had amazing success in Twitter pitch parties and received generally positive feedback from any agent who read sample pages or the full manuscript. However, I received rejection after rejection. I must have queried approximately 100 agents, and out of 9 full requests, I got two revise and resubmits.

Amidst the endless flow of rejections, I started writing a second manuscript, a silly little YA romcom called Rules for Rule Breaking.

I fully planned to do the revise and resubmits for my first manuscript. I even started the edits based on the notes I received, but then the world shut down. I lost my job, greeted my old friend, depression, and let any aspirations I had basically die. Those two manuscripts sat in my computer untouched for months.

By the summer of 2021, I had started a new job, and I decided to revisit my first manuscript. I finished the edits and sent it along to the agents, apologizing for allowing nearly a year to pass. Again, the reaction was disappointing.

After more months of that manuscript basically bombing, I decided to dig up my second manuscript, Rules for Rule Breaking. I read through it, having completely forgotten what it was even about, and I found myself laughing out loud at my own writing. I couldn’t believe I’d written it, especially since it was a project that was stress-written and born out of failure. I didn’t give this manuscript even a fraction of the attention I’d given the other. I wrote the entire thing in probably three weeks, edited it for another week, only had one beta reader read up until chapter 12, then I copy and line-edited it a second time, only to do absolutely nothing with it for over a year.

In October 2021, I decided to rewrite the last chapter, take out any references that had become irrelevant, and then do what I like to call “just busting” by taking out excessive filler words. I got my query ready, then participated in October 2021’s DVPit and December 2021’s PITMAD. I got about 30 likes from each event. I sorted through the agents and sent queries to the ones I found appropriate. From the 45 agents I queried, I got 14 full requests, which resulted in one revise and resubmit by November 2021.

I didn’t hear from anyone else for a while because I was told things pretty much shut down around the holidays in the literary world. This was fine for me because I started showing COVID-19 symptoms in late December 2021. Despite being triple vaxxed, my voice was completely gone for days, my head felt like the inside was trying to outgrow the outside, I had no appetite, and despite me being one of the more stationary Jamaicans, my body was sore like I’d been running decathlons. I was out for the count for at least two weeks. Christmas was a blur, and I rang in the New Year hugging a bag of lozenges.

However, on the first day of the year, things got interesting. I received my first-ever offer and an email from another agent asking to schedule a phone call. Despite still having COVID brain, I took the call the next day, and to my surprise, it was a second offer of representation.

In preparation for the phone call with my would-be agent, Jim McCarthy, I watched a few of his Youtube videos. In one of them, he said he liked to call authors out of the blue with offers of representation. Because he had emailed me first, I assumed he was going to ask for a revision. Because of this, the fact that my body still felt like it’d gone through a garbage compactor, and me being weeks behind on work tasks, I didn’t prepare for this call at all.

Within a few minutes of answering Jim’s call, he extended an offer. I was so shocked, I don’t even remember how the call went if I’m being perfectly honest. I’m pretty bad at speaking to begin with, but I know that nothing intelligent probably left my mouth during that call.

Anyway, the next day I emailed anyone else who still had my full manuscript, and informed them of the offer, giving them two weeks to give me their answer. Because I wasn’t querying for very long, many agents hadn’t even answered my initial query, so I only informed a few I was really interested in, then withdrew the rest.

To backtrack a little, while I was in quarantine, I noticed that my beloved cat, Bowie, had dropped a lot of weight and wasn’t acting herself. Thinking it would only be a routine visit, I took her to the vet that Friday. She was going to turn 12 in February, so I thought whatever was wrong with her was due to age and could probably be managed with medication and perhaps a change in diet. However, to my complete shock, I was informed that she had an advanced tumor in her abdomen.

I am not known to be a very emotional person, but devastated doesn’t even begin to explain how I felt. I got Bowie at a very low time in my life when I was 18 years old. I was attached to this cat, probably an unhealthy amount. She followed me from room to room in the house, slept on my chest, sat on my lap as I wrote, and there wasn’t anyone in my life who didn’t know how much I spoiled this cat. She was an inextricable part of my identity. Since I’d been either unemployed or working at home for close to two years at this point, we’d spent nearly every minute of every day with each other. She’s also probably the only reason I didn’t pull all my hair out and run around screaming while I was quarantined for those few weeks.

The vet told me it would only be a matter of time before Bowie’s illness overwhelmed her, and I should prepare, but that day was not the day. Other than the weight loss, her behavior wasn’t much different, so I expected to have her for at least a few more weeks, maybe even months. That was wishful thinking. Within about 5 days, her health completely deteriorated, and I was forced to make the decision to let her go peacefully before things worsened even more.

I’d gone from being excited about my life for the first time in years to the saddest I’d ever felt in only a matter of days.

While I was battling with the decision regarding my cat’s life, I completely stopped caring about anything. Everything seemed so frivolous and absurd. However, once it was done, I gained a sense of urgency and clarity. Offers of representation started rolling in throughout the week, and I would like to say I buckled down and deliberated, but I just went with my gut. The day after I said goodbye to my Bowie, I informed Jim that I was going to accept his offer. His experience and track record speaks for itself, and the way some of his other clients spoke about him sold me. He also seemed to be the most excited about my book by a longshot, so it was really a no-brainer.

I’m grateful because I didn’t have it in me to make another hard decision that week.

I’ve always been a loner, but I’ve never been a lonely person, so it’s weird going into this feeling alone for the first time without my Bowie, who was my constant companion for nearly 12 years. But I’m grateful I at least get the chance to share a deeply personal novel with the world. Yes, it is a funny little YA romance novel, and there are some LOLs along the way, but laughing when you don’t even feel like you can smile is one of the best feelings in the world. I hope I make at least one other person laugh out loud to themselves, preferably in an aggressively public setting.

I know this is probably not the “How I Got My Agent” story you were expecting or even wanted, but that’s kind of what you get with me.

Anyway, I’m going to end this here, because if I get any more tears on my laptop, I’m going to have to go to the Apple Store, and those fluorescent lights will do nothing for what this month has done to my skin.

I hope you all have the New Year you deserve! Go drink some water, do your skincare, and touch some grass.

P.S. I’m not a sharer, so this will probably never happen again. lol.

Stay safe,

Talia

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