Friday, June 2, 2006

A Hit! An Agent Unexpectedly Responds

I can't believe the serendipity of what just happened!

Back in April, I sent my newly minted agent submission package (consisting of a query letter, return postcard, and the first three chapters of my book) to Writers House. To me, Writers House is the Harvard of agencies. They have been around for a long time, are consistently mentioned as having the best agents, and represent some of the top authors in publishing. Given all this, I decided to submit to them first and to give them exclusive opportunity to review my work before I submit to any other agent.

Then the long wait began.

For those uninitiated to the trials of being a new author, you would be shocked the lag-time in this industry considering we are well into the Internet Age. It still amazes me that I have turned on multi-million dollar, global web applications to the barrage of immediate feedback, and I still have to wait two-to-four months for one response from an agent. It makes sense that they get overwhelmed by inquiries and have to put an earnest effort into reading each one, but I really wonder sometimes if the Internet could help streamline this effort somehow. This seems on the surface to be an industry in dire need of modernization.

Regardless, time passed, and I fell into that funk of waiting so many authors will tell you they have experienced. It's a strange feeling of quasi-rejection. You're not really rejected during this time, but you're definitely not accepted either. You are in limbo awaiting some stranger's judgment. It's surreal.

But where the serendipity of this all comes in is that during this time, and probably somewhat sooner than I today realized, Writers House had accepted me! I was working from home today when I decided to take the recycling out. We have two blue bins for our recycling. One we use almost all the time. The other we leave outside by the garbage bins, collecting rain water. It's almost like having a house cat, and a mangy outside dog no one ever plays with. So, I decided, in a moment of strange pity for an inanimate object, to switch out the bins. It was time for the dog to come in and the cat to sit out.

That's when I saw it: one of my return postcards, lying at the bottom of the outside bin, damp with this morning's dew. At first, I thought I'd recycled a postcard I'd never sent. After all, in creating the postcards exactly as I wanted, I had printed several "prototypes" to get the custom text on the back of the card just right.

I plucked the postcard from the bin to check. That's when my mild surprise became glee. On the back of the postcard was a voided stamp. This was one that I had sent to an agent and had been sent back! This must be from Writers House since they were the only one I've queried so far.

It was almost too much for me to scan down the back of the card to where I had printed the accept/reject check boxes. But as my eyes fell, my heart leaped. Writers House wanted to see more! I jumped into the air and yelled, much to the surprise of my neighbor watering her plants, then ran inside to call my girlfriend, Kim.

Amazing! Writers House is asking for the entire manuscript, which I'll send first thing tomorrow.