Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Getting the Call with Anna Priemaza

Sometimes you just know when an agent is right for you. Enjoy this inspiration from Anna Priemaza and here is to hoping for more good things around the corner. 

"I’d love to talk to you about [your manuscript]," the email said. "Do you have some time to talk today?"

Literary agent Lauren Abramo of DGLM wanted to talk! To me! Fortunately, I knew just what to do.

Step one: Stare at email in disbelief for ten minutes.

Step two: Email Lauren back to set up chat for 20 minutes away. Enough time to pull myself together. Hopefully.

Step three: Text hubby and my mom. Forward email to my crit group with the very coherent message "!!!!!! See below !!!!"

Step four: Print off the "getting the call" blog post I had saved to my favourites bar on an unusually optimistic day and highlight the questions I wanted to ask. (This one: http://www.literaryrambles.com/2010/02/call-or-what-to-ask-literary-agent-when.html

Step five: Pace back and forth in my office trying not to hyperventilate.

Step six: Answer the phone and try not to sound like an utter fool.

But let's rewind one week;

Another rejection. I laid my head in my hands. This book, IF YOU CAN'T FLY, was not going to be THE book. I resolved myself to this inevitable truth. Sure, I still had two fulls and a dozen or so queries out. But over the last three months, I had received over thirty rejections, including three partial rejections, which surely meant more rejections to come. And sure, I had that R&R with the lovely comments about my characters I could still do. But her feedback just wasn't resonating with me.

So it wasn't going to be this book that I signed with an agent for. I knew it in my heart. I emailed one of my CPs and told her that maybe it would be the next book. Or the one after that. 

After all, it hadn't been my previous book, which I had queried two years earlier. That one garnered forty-seven rejections, including six partial rejections, and then died. And now IF YOU CAN'T FLY was going to die a sad death, too. I knew it to be true.

Fast forward one week and one hour:

It turns out I don't have the ability to see the future because one week, one hour, and one telephone call later, I had an offer of representation for IF YOU CAN'T FLY from Lauren Abramo of DGLM! Happy dance.

Lauren was wonderful on the phone, but of course I did the polite thing and emailed the other agents who had my query or MS and gave them a week to respond. (I emailed all agents who had my query because, dudes, I got to send emails with the subject heading "Offer of Representation"; I was sending as many of those as I could!) 

I told the other agents I'd promised to let Lauren know by Thursday. By Monday, I couldn't take the waiting. "Can't I just accept her offer?" I whined to my crit group (also known as my Anna-craziness-support-group). "Who cares about those other agents?"

Their answer was unanimous and exactly what I knew they'd say. "No. You have to wait until the deadline." They did, however, suggest that I request a copy of DGLM's agency agreement to look over in the meantime. 

Which was a great idea because not only did I get to look over the agreement, but I exchanged some emails back and forth with Lauren and became even more impressed with her and how brilliant and helpful she seemed. By Wednesday, most agents had kindly stepped aside, and I had my email to Lauren accepting her offer all typed up and saved in my drafts folder, ready to send the very next morning.

And then I got an email from another agent. She loved my query and pages and was willing to read the manuscript that night and potentially set up a call for the next day in order to meet the Thursday deadline. BUT, she was only willing to rush to do so if there was actually a decent chance I'd sign with her.

I sat and stared at my computer for a full hour. Not a partial hour. A full one.

And then I emailed her back. No, there was not a decent chance I'd sign with her. She seemed lovely and under other circumstances I would've been thrilled to sign with her, but my heart was set on Lauren. 

And having decided that, I rebelliously sent Lauren my "I accept" email late Wednesday night instead of waiting until Thursday morning. And did another happy dance.

Fast forward another three and a half months to when Lauren called with HarperTeen's offer.

But that's a happy dance story for another time.


Anna Priemaza is a contemporary young adult author and a practicing family and immigration lawyer in Edmonton, Alberta, where she lives with her husband. She can never quite remember how old she is, as she knits like an old lady, practices law like an adult, fangirls over YouTubers like a teen, and dreams like a child. 

Her debut, IF YOU CAN'T FLY, about two teens who meet working on a science fair project and form the first real friendship either has ever had by bonding over panic attacks, ADHD, and their mutual obsession with a YouTube star who does walkthroughs of their favorite video game, is forthcoming from HarperTeen in Fall 2017.

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