I’ve been waiting years to write this blog post. It feels pretty surreal to finally be doing it. I have the most wonderful news: I have an agent!
I am now officially represented by Michelle Johnson of Inklings Literary Agency.
There’s a pretty crazy story to go along with this awesome news, but first – as is traditional in the writing blogosphere – I shall throw a .gif party:
Okay, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, let me tell you the kind of incredible story of how I went into a ten-minute pitch session at a conference and came out with an offer of representation.
I queried Michelle with Once the Darkness Comes a couple of months before DFWcon (a writing conference in Texas the first weekend of May). In my query I mentioned that I was going to DFWcon too, and that I hoped to meet her there. Our pitch sessions weren’t assigned yet, but I knew she was going to be my choice.
I don’t really know why I queried Michelle before the con, to be honest with you. I knew that I was pitching Scarcliff this year, not OTDC, and so I thought it would be interesting to “feel her out” with one project before we met and I pitched another. I guess it was sort of a social experiment for me: what would it be like meeting someone who’s already either passed or requested one of my projects? If she hated the idea, I could always switch to someone else who might be a better fit, and if she liked it, I might get some more detailed feedback face to face than in email. It was a strange move on my part, but I did it anyway.
On the Wednesday less than three days before the conference, I got a very interested email from Michelle requesting the full manuscript of Once the Darkness Comes – she even hinted that she might be reading some of it on the plane! I later found out that this tweet was about me:
*bursts with squee*
Of course I sent her the full as soon as I got the email, and I let her know that I was planning to pitch a different book and looked forward to meeting her (by then I had gotten her as my pitch session).
Saturday morning rolled around and the first thing that happened when I walked into the main room was a guy I didn’t know came up to me and asked if I was Annie Neugebauer. Baffled, I said yes, and he said, “You’re pitching to Michelle Johnson today, right?” I was like, “…Yeah” (while wondering what sort of mind-reading this guy was capable of) and he asked if I’d like to meet her.
It turned out that he was a nice guy named David, her “wrangler” for the weekend (the volunteers in charge of assisting the visiting agents, getting them to and from the airport, etc.). So he took me to meet her, which was a little awkward since I wasn’t sure why, and we shook hands and said hi. She said something to the extent of “Gosh, you really tore me up,” referring to OTDC, then added, “But we can talk about that in our pitch session.” I wasn’t quite sure what that meant, if it was a good or bad thing, or if she had specifically asked to meet me or what. I spent the rest of the day overanalyzing every detail of what she’d said. I played it totally cool.
My pitch was at 3 in the afternoon. I went into the big ballroom with its dozen or so agents scattered at separate tables and sat down with Michelle. Since she knew I was ready to pitch Scarcliff, she told me to go ahead and give her my spiel about that. I spent maybe five of my ten minutes describing the novel to her, at which point she requested to see it, too. I said, “Really? Is it actually something you think you would also be interested in?” She said, “Yes, because I know how you write.”
That knocked my socks off. She liked my writing?
She turned the conversation to Once the Darkness Comes. She started by telling me what she thought needed some work, and I nodded along and totally agreed with suggestions for what were actually very minor tweaks. I still had no idea she was about to offer. I mean, I didn’t even fully realize she had finished the book. She’d only had it for three days!
Then she started telling me how much she loved it. She hadn’t slept in those three days because of me. She said the most amazing, flattering, heart-filling things about my book, my story, my writing. I’m pretty sure my head almost exploded.
And then she said she would like to officially offer me representation.
During my pitch session.
Needless to say, we had a moment. It was pretty special. We both teared up. I think that moment is special for every writer, but to have it face-to-face was just incredible.
After I got my wits about me somewhat – time was almost up – I let her know that there were other agents who still had the manuscript and asked her for two weeks to let them get back to me before I gave her my answer. I was totally shaking as we hugged and I zombie-walked out of the pitch room, dazed.
The rest of the conference was surreal. The next two weeks were spent trying not to tweet things like ZOMG YOU GUYS I HAVE THE MOST AMAZING THINGS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW. I ended up with multiple offers, but Michelle’s passion and enthusiasm for my work really shone through (among many, many other things), and I officially signed with her on Friday.
And now I’m the happiest writer in all of the land!
The end. (Which, as we all know, is really just the beginning.)
On a somewhat related note, I’ve been putting off getting a Facebook page (like an official, public one as a writer) for years now. I promised myself that that’s one of the things I would do once I signed with an agent, so now I have! It’s brand-spankin’ new! If you’d like to get me started, you can go here to like my page. Thanks y’all!