On Writing · Publishing

Brush with an Agent – Part I – THIS ONE!

*Please note: I will not be including any contact information about the agent and/or agency in this blog for privacy.

On Monday, February 18th I received an email from an agent. Back in December, I had submitted the first 250 words to a contest called: 2012 YA Novel Discovery Contest. I submitted on a whim. Feeling mostly like, what the hell? This was the year I was supposed to get an agent, right? I submitted and then promptly forgot about it.  Christmastime came and went in a chilly blur. The new year rolled in. I made promises to myself for BIG CHANGE in all facets of my life – especially my writing life, which I promised myself would move back to the basics. Specifically, less-to-no submitting, less-to-no reading of so many blogs that I let make me feel like I have no idea what I’m doing, and most importantly, write with passion and bravery because I LOVE writing not because I want an agent to read my manuscript, love what I wrote, ask to represent me and then get me the book deal I’ve been dreaming of having.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying I completely abandoned this dream. I still hope this dream comes true, however, my way of going about helping it come true needed to change. I had lost the passion. Writing had become too much about everything around the story and the characters. That makes for a lacking story and characters. Trust me.

So there I was, feeling confident in the new year. I’d even taken on a contract job having absolutely nothing to do with creative writing – so I could challenge myself and see if I could do it, so I could make some extra money. It was moving along at a busy but bearable pace.

Then I got the email.

Dear Vanessa,

As a judge for the 2012 YA Novel Discovery Contest, I took an interest in your entry. If and when you complete your manuscript I’d love to take a look. I’m a actively looking for great projects and was intrigued by your beginning and would like to see how the story  develops.

I had to re-read it about four times before my brain let me understand what had just happened.

AN AGENT WAS INTERESTED IN MY NOVEL!!!! Holy shit, cows, Toledo, balls – and everything else – THIS WAS HAPPENING!

I wrote this response:

I know it’s not the way I’m supposed to react to your message (the fact that I’m telling you this), but I’M LITERALLY JUMPING AND UP AND DOWN with joy at your request. 
Indeed, I am thrilled that you took an interest in my story. I will send along my manuscript by end-of-week. 
Thank you! Thank you!
Most sincerely,

I told my hubby right away and we both jumped up and down. I told my best friend and writing soulmate, and we jumped up and down. I hesitated to tell many  more people because I didn’t want to get too excited at this early stage.

Now, my manuscript was complete.  ‘Member when I posted this:

One of the major rules of getting an agent is that your manuscript MUST BE FINISHED before you submit any query letters or participate in any contests. My goal last year (2012) was to complete my novel, have it edited and submission ready. That’s what I did. However, I still had one final edit I wanted to give it before I sent it to the agent. So that week was spent revising, looking for typos, and allowing myself to feel like the story was good enough to send out. I also had to write a one-page synopsis of the novel.

The agent responded to me again.

I am thrilled that you are so thrilled! I smiled very brightly when I read your response and you should feel very proud for standing out of the hundreds of submissions (and I thank you for writing something truly catching).

With your manuscript, please also send a brief synopsis of you story so I can get a nice overview before I dive in.

I look forward to reading both.

I might mention to you that at this point in my brief communication with the agent, I was ridiculously excited and grateful. The agent was kind, succinct and clearly as excited to read my story as I was go give it to her. That was extremely important to me.

I worked my toosh off that week. I stayed up late, got up early, and spend every free minute I had to give one final polish to my manuscript.

Here was my response:

I can’t stop smiling. Even if I try, my mouth keeps curling up at its edges…I’m still so happy! 
I’ve attached a brief synopsis for Rachel On Fire (in both .pdf and .doc). 
The full manuscript will be along shortly. 
I hope it’s okay that I’m sending the synopsis ahead of time. Don’t want to make you wait for both!!
I can’t believe that this is happening…and yet, my heart feels like it’s at home in the process so far. 
If you have any questions in the interim, let me know!
Most Sincerely,

And here is a message I sent just moments after I sent the synopsis.

I just read over the synopsis…I wrote ‘new’ instead of ‘knew’…in the final sentence of the first paragraph. Yikes.

Have a super day!

I panicked. I read it over so many times, then one more time after I sent it – and then I found the typo!!

And the agent response:

No worries, Vanessa. Most agents look over small typos like that 🙂 It’s about the core of the writing.

Hope you’re having a super day as well.

We’ll be in touch soon.

GAH! Slowly. FALLING IN LOVE. With this agent. 🙂

Friday came. Delivery day. I was exhausted but ready. Terrified but confident.

Here is what I wrote in my ‘delivery’ email:

Well…here it is! The full manuscript of ‘Rachel On Fire’. My hands are shaking as I type…Thank you sooooo much for asking to read this story.

I do hope it makes you laugh…and maybe cry…but most importantly, I hope it makes you believe a little bit more in the power of true love.

I look forward to your response.

Most sincerely,


It was important to me that I NOT change who I am when exchanging emails. I know there are ‘rules’, but I stayed within the rules by being ‘professionally me’.

I did a video recording of me just moments after I sent the manuscript. (To share it with you guys, and also to have for memories…)


I will leave you on that note.

2 thoughts on “Brush with an Agent – Part I – THIS ONE!

  1. You are just so freaking sweet! I’m happy that such a mind blowing thing happened to you. You’re one of my favourite writing teachers and I miss our weekly classes, still! I hope the world gets to experience your awesomeness! xoxo


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