I love reading about how writers find their agents, and I still can’t believe I’ve been asked to share my Getting The Call story!
After receiving several rejections for my first novel, all with the same “I’m not interested in dystopian” message, I succumbed to the fact that my manuscript needed to be shelved (at least temporarily).
I did what every writer suffering from a broken heart needs to do: I threw myself into a new project, this time a YA SciFi/Thriller. But I was so in love with my first novel, I treated my new manuscript like a rebound boyfriend, pretending to love it, even though my thoughts were always about Manuscript #1.
While working on Manuscript #2, I sent one of my CPs the newly drafted opening pages, and when she requested chapters faster than I could finish them, I looked a little deeper at what I’d written.
I liked it. In fact, I realized I could love this novel just as much, if not more than Manuscript #1.
Encouraged, I sent pages out to two more CPs, and with their help I ironed out rough chapters and developed the characters and world into a story I wanted to query. Wanted to…
I didn’t know if I was ready for the same heartbreak I’d encountered my first go around, so I entered Pitch Madness to see if people outside my circle of CPs and betas would be as excited about my manuscript. I needed validation.
I’ll admit, when I didn’t get into Pitch Madness, I thought about breaking up with my novel for good. Then I received a note of encouragement from one of the slush readers, Rae Chang, who mentioned I came really close to getting in. She insisted I send queries into the Agent World, so I drafted a few and, with a shaky hand, hit send.
The responses came back slow at first, then two full requests came within hours of each other. A week later, an agent requested my manuscript TWELVE MINUTES after I queried her (cue the freakout session).
Despite the good news, rejections trickled in as well. I decided to enter Query Kombat while I waited for more responses. As much as having my query on display scared me, knowing it’d be picked apart by judges, I was determined to get in and combed over my query and first 250 words in preparation for the big day.
Shortly before the submission window opened, one of my CPs convinced me to participate in #RTSlap, a Twitter pitch event I hadn’t planned on entering. I was full of coffee and optimism, so I sent one pitch out into the Twitterverse and called it good. Later that night, I checked my account and saw an agent had favorited my tweet. Eureka!
That favorite meant I needed to send my query and first 10 pages off, and I was elated when that partial quickly turned into a full. With several partials and fulls out, I turned my attention back to Query Kombat and entered early to secure a spot. As organizers began to rake through the entries, I watched the Twitter feed nervously for any clues about my submission.
On Memorial Day, just days before the top 64 Query Kombat entries were to be announced, I received an email from the agent who’d requested my full following the Twitter pitch event. It was late, and I opened the email expecting to read “I’m sorry, but I’m not the right fit for this project.” But that wasn’t what it said. Instead, she’d written she was glad it was a holiday because she couldn’t put my manuscript down. She loved my story. Better than that, she wanted to set up The Call to talk about representation!
I rocketed out of my chair and am certain my neighbors heard me shriek with joy. Then I called my CPs, betas, friends, family, grocery clerk, first grade teacher, yoga instructor… Okay, so maybe I didn’t call EVERYONE, but I wanted to. An agent loved my manuscript! When I calmed down, I emailed her back to set up a time to talk the next day. As the hours ticked down, I worried we wouldn’t connect. What if she had changes I didn’t agree with? What if there was no spark?
The next evening, my stomach did flips while I waited for her call. I’m super punctual, so when she called promptly at six, I relaxed a smidge. She gushed about my manuscript while I grinned like a fool on the other end of the line, and she answered all my questions without any hiccups. She understood my characters and had great ideas to improve my manuscript. We talked for more than an hour, but I wanted to give the other agents reading my material a chance to respond.
The next day I sent nudges to every agent who’d requested my work, as well as those I’d queried but hadn’t heard from yet. I even emailed the Query Kombat creators to pull my submission just in case I’d made it in. Michelle relayed the bittersweet news to let me know I had been selected to be on her team. I cheered from the sidelines while waiting for agents to respond to my nudging. Some bowed out, others upgraded to the full. In 24 hours, five more agents requested the manuscript. Meanwhile, I scoured the Internet for information about the agent who offered representation and contacted several of the company’s clients. The more I learned, the more impressed I was. I didn’t hear back from the last full request until the morning I was scheduled to give my response to the offer. But by that time, I’d already made up my mind. I wanted to work with Whitley Abell at Inklings Literary. She’s just starting to build her client list and is extremely enthusiastic. She’s confident she can put my manuscript in front of the right people. Best of all, she’s interested in my career, not just Manuscript #2. Heck, maybe that dystopian I tucked away will even get a chance to shine again someday. I wanted an agent that would not only encourage me but push me to become a better writer. And that’s exactly what I got!
Bio: Jessica Kapp went to her first Writers’ Group meeting with her grandmother when she was eleven but didn’t take her love of writing seriously until she graduated from college. With a degree in Broadcast Communication, Jessica started her storytelling career as a television news reporter. After a few years she transitioned to print journalism and eventually scrapped press releases for her true passion: fiction. Jessica enjoys reading and writing Speculative Fiction, especially YA. When she’s not creating worlds or hanging out at the library, she can be found on the soccer field pretending she’s 16 again. Follow her on twitter @JessKapp.