Friday, July 27, 2007

It Rose From The Slush

Maven Erica Ridley And by "it", I mean "me".

In case you missed the news on my blog, I am pleased to announce that I now have agent representation! Yay!

Very soon, the sexy tooth fairy book I never shut up about will be making the publisher rounds in NYC, courtesy of Lauren Abramo from the Dystel & Goderich Literary Agency.

OMG! OMG! I can't believe it!

Wait--yes I can, because I worked for this! There was no magic handshake. And I am willing to share the secret formula that got me this far.

STEP 1: Take Writing Seriously

When I decided to change my mindset from "writing is a hobby" to "writing is a career", I did several things. First, I made up a rule that said "No more abandoning unfinished stories". If I were a painter, would I get very far with half-finished paintings? Unlikely. Second, I joined Romance Writers of America and my local chapter, Tampa Area Romance Authors and became an active member of both.

STEP 2: Improve Thyself

Now that I was finishing what I started and learning all about the stuff I didn't even realize I didn't know, I discovered I had a long way to go. So, I went to conferences, attended workshops, read books on craft, did online courses, surfed internet articles, and hunted down brutally honest critique partners. I tried at least half the advice I got, and kept what worked and tossed what didn't.

STEP 3: Write

I wrote like crazy. Between fall of 2005 when I first decided to pursue writing as a career and spring of 2007, I wrote four complete novels. I also did a lot of reading and did a lot of critiquing, both of which helped immensely. Time spent analyzing other stories--published or not--is time well spent. But time spent writing is the best of all. You can't be a writer if you don't write!

STEP 4: Write Something Good

I can admit it--my first stuff wasn't so good. Nor did it completely suck. Eventually I began finalling in contests and getting "positive" (ie "send us something else") rejection letters from material requested at writers conferences. But confining yourself to conference pitches is extremely limiting, which brings us to:

STEP 5: Craft A Good Query Letter

I mean, a real good one. And then send it out. Not to just anyone! Do your research. Pick reputable agencies with agents you respect, who represent your genre and love to read your type of story. I actually had a very short A List--less than a dozen names. Your mileage may vary. But it's best for everyone involved if you only query someone whom you'd want to represent your work.

STEP 6: Be Ready to Send the Material

How many times do agents request stuff that never ends up crossing their desks? Do not be that person if you really want to get to the next stage! I sent Lauren part of Trevor & the Tooth Fairy. A couple weeks went by. She asked for the full. I shipped it out Priority Mail that very afternoon.

STEP 7: Make A Good Decision

Trevor & the Tooth Fairy was actually out with four different agents, all of whom were reputable, from well-respected agencies, who had recent sales and multiple clients, and who were at the top of my A List. Some had spoken to me several times about the project over the past few months. The number one thing that made Lauren stand out to me was her enthusiasm for the project. She loves TATTF! How can I not love someone who loves TATTF! *g. Seriously, though, that enthusiasm will shine through. Who would you rather represent you--someone who thinks your work is okay, or someone who thinks your story is tops?

STEP 8: Let the Agent Do Her Job

This is the easiest and hardest step. The excruciating hurry-up-and-wait game we writers face does not stop just because you've signed an agent contract. But remember, your agent is in the same boat! She is gunning for you at all the publishing houses, but she's also got to back off and give them a chance to read your brilliant masterpiece. This is a slow-moving industry. Might as well make peace with that up front.

So, does all this mean I'm on my merry way to being the next Danielle Steele meets J.K. Rowling? Uh, no.

Agent representation isn't a guarantee of publication. Actually, pretty much nothing is--I've known people with publisher contracts and advance money in hand whose book never made it to the shelf due to lines/houses closing or editors leaving, etc.

But it is one step closer, and it's a step I'm very, very, very excited about.

Okay, I've held it in for the whole entire post...

SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

21 comments:

Darcy Burke said...

I second that SQUEEEEE and raise you a YIPPPEEEEEE!

Couldn't have happened to a more deserving, harder working person. *Pop* goes the champagne!

XOXO

lacey kaye said...

Is it incredibly ironic that your Agent Announcement was made within an amazingly insightful post?! No way!! Because you are the WOMAN!!!!!!!

We are so proud of you, Erica. *I* am so proud of you. SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE- EEE-EE!

You are my hero! Er, heroine!

Anissa said...

Congratulations, Erica!!! That's fantastic news! I'm sitting here beaming for you. :) Yay!!!!!

Vicki said...

I know I've congratulated you on your blog and the TARA loop, but this is way to exciting to stop there.

So...Mega Squee and congrats!!! I can't wait to read the book. I know, I know, it's not out there yet but it will be. I know it will be!!!

Whoo Hoo!!!!! TARA Erica, MAnuscript Mavens Erica, and Erica Rocks Big Time! (okay, you're all those Erica's rolled into one I know, but the congrats are for all that you do!!!)

Carrie said...

I'm so excited for you!! And what a great story! You deserve it!!!

Jacqueline Barbour said...

Ah, Erica, you know I just couldn't be more thrilled for you. And I'm going to be even more thrilled when I pick up TATTF at my local retailer.

But the best thing about your story (aside from the fact that it happened to you and that you deserve it!) is that it gives me hope. You've proved it's possible. An unpublished author can rise from the slush pile and gain agent representation.

Now, the only question is, how do I get to be as good as Erica :)?

Bill Clark said...

I've already emoted enough over at your blog, so I will just weigh in here to be sure that you know I'm still alive, and that my purple finger is slowly turning a deep rose, which I take to be a good sign that it will not turn black and fall off - I mean, a week or so in duct tape is never what the doctor ordered for one's finger (unless it's attached to a splint, of course), and naturally, it's played hob with my typing all week, but once again I have to say it was worth it because it clearly was the missing link that enabled and brought about this wondrous news, and of course you can thank me later since I know you're busy with the sqeeing and champagne and Snoopy-dancing and all the other things a newly-represented writer is prone to indulge in, and of course one should note that you have followed the correct path in your literary career to date, not cutting corners or calling in favors, but simply sticking to your craft and following the rules and putting out your luck lines and spreading good karma throughout the universe; all of which is just to say that you deserve every ounce of today's happiness, and may there be many more ounces and pounds and tons of happiness ahead...

*Bill pauses to draw breath and think what else he should say and decides to put a sock in it for now*

Wendi said...

Yay, Yay, Yay, Erica!!!!!! Thanks for all the great advice on the loop and for this post. I'm rooting for you all the way. Go Erica! I was just about to go to bed when I got your announcement last night. I ended up staying up another couple of hours to work on a query and synopsis for my latest novel. Today, I'm not going to work on anything else! Ok, one more time .... YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Isabel said...

*passes champagne flutes around* CONGRATULATIONS, Erica!!!

((hugs)))

Anonymous said...

Congrats again and thanks for your post and advice on the TARA loop. It helps the rest of us in the querying stages. YAY Erica!!!

Rosemary

Mystery Robin said...

Congratulations, Erica!!! I love your story!!

Robin

lacey kaye said...

Back to say I'm STILL smiling about this! Like Jacqueline says, you give us all hope!

B.E. Sanderson said...

Thanks, Erica. You give the unagented hope, and a bit of inspiration. =oD

Keep up the good work. And as I said over at your blog, I can't wait to buy a copy.

Tessa Dare said...

Erica, it's so great to hear this. You've worked so hard, and you've got the goods, and you DESERVE it! Can't wait to see your book on the shelves.

XOXOXO!

lainey bancroft said...

MEGA SQUEEEEES & A COUPLA' SERIOUS YIPEEEES!!!

Umm, did I miss the champagne?

Haven't read about the tooth-fairy in eons. Can't wait to buy the book.

Look at all the sales you've made already and you haven't even officially 'made the sale'!!!

((Enjoy every second of this next step closer))

Writer & Cat said...

Oh that's just fabulous! I can't wait until I can rush out and pay retail for it! It's just my kind of book -- funny AND paranormal. Congrats! I will cross my fingers it will sell quickly.

beverley said...

OMG, OMG, OMG, OMG. SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!! I've come from my writing cave to say super congratulations and I know its well deserved. Now I'll just wait patiently until it hits the book stores!!!!!!

Jessica Burkhart said...

Again, I'm just so excited for you!!!! :)

Lenora Bell said...

OMG!! SQUEEE from me!! I can't believe I missed this incredible news (I was starting a new job, good enough?). That is so absolutely wonderful and fantastic. You deserve this and I'm thrilled for you. But just one thing. You make it sound too damn easy.

Between fall of 2005 when I first decided to pursue writing as a career and spring of 2007, I wrote four complete novels.

I'm in total awe of your productivity. And its results.

India Carolina said...

What wonderful news! Can't wait to but TTATTF. Be sure to let us know the exact relaese date. Can I pre-order? Okay, okay, I'll wait till you're contracted. But not a moment longer.
Congrats!

India Carolina said...

Oops. I meant to buy- not to but.

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