How I Landed an Agent (part 4)

It took Carolyn a week or two to reply. She said it was more immediate, and that it definitely brought us closer to the main character. Very positive!

She also pointed out two issues — one unchanged pronoun (a “he” wasn’t changed to an “I” in a fairly complex construction) and a typo. This threw me for a loop as well; I don’t have a problem with being corrected, but she zeroed in on two minor mistakes instead of talking about the big picture stuff that I expected. It was a little surreal and unnerving.

Finally, she said “Let me know when the rest of the manuscript is done.”


So obviously I was expected to carry on with the rewrite, all the way to the end of the book. This was a huge task, and would probably take several months to complete. And what if, at the end of it, she decided that it wasn’t good enough after all? The huge task of rewriting would have been for nothing.

I mulled it over for a week or two. I talked about it with… well, probably anyone who would listen. But my real saviour was a friend of mine from grad school, who has since left Canada and moved to England to become a literary agent. The talented Isabel White also happened to be returning to Canada around that time, meaning I could call her and beg for some advice! (Note that this was not the first time I had begged her for advice, and wouldn’t be the last. But she’s a wonderful, wonderful person and puts up with that kind of thing.)

Isabel gave me the verbal slap upside the head that I needed. She said that she’d mentioned my case to the top agent at the agency she worked for then, and they both agreed that they had never heard of an agent asking for a full rewrite, and promising to read the entire thing after it was done. And they both agreed that I should get the thing rewritten, pronto.

So I e-mailed Carolyn to tell her “it’ll be a few months but I’m on it”, and I got to work.

It was easier — not easy, but easier — to get going on the full manuscript, but it still took a while; I think it was about the beginning of February when I finished it. And then I asked my friend Karina (did I mention her before? I think so. Did I mention she was nominated for a Nebula award? I don’t think so. She’s a really good writer!) to do a full technical edit, specifically for the first/third person thing but also for any grammatical or stylistic flaws she found. It didn’t take her long and I paid her some money and chocolate and probably lunch too. She deserved it all!

I e-mailed it back to Carolyn. I fretted about this e-mail for a while, to be honest. I wanted to start it out with “I don’t know if you remember, but…” — but I didn’t want to sound like an idiot, or vaguely insult her by implying she wouldn’t remember me. I think I settled on something like “well, you asked for this a while ago, so… here it is.”

She replied fairly quickly and said she was very happy to get it, and — she had mentioned to her assistant just the week before that they should remember when setting her schedule that they would probably see something from me pretty soon, so they should keep that in mind. (I was pretty amazed by this. Does she know writers or what!?) And she said she’d get back to me soon.

…and this has become a longer segment than I expected. I promise part 5 will be the last one!

  1. Oh- the lure of facebook games. I’ve given them all up, except for Viking Clan, which I may depart from very soon, and scrabulous, which takes very little time. Do you sense rationalization creeping in? Since I don’t work full time, people think I have a lot of ‘free’ time, but that’s true only on some mornings.

    I’m sure you will find a balance, and getting accustomed to a new job should be factored into your current lack of writing time.

  2. How I Landed an Agent (part 3) | Matthew Bin - pingback on June 30, 2011 at 12:00 pm

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