Last April, I made writing a priority in my life. My goal is to be a published author, and I’ve taken another step on this journey by accepting representation by a literary agent. Though there’s much work to be done, I thought I’d continue to share what I learn along the way. In this post, I reflect on the past year and prepare for the months ahead.
When I attended the 2016 ACFW Conference this past summer, I had the opportunity to pitch a middle grade manuscript to several literary agents. During one agent meeting, we had additional time, so I shared my idea for a second middle grade book. I asked for her advice since I had heard the middle grade market is tough. She loved the story but offered a twist I had not considered: instead of a seventh grade female protagonist as I proposed, she suggested my main character be a 16-year-old Amish girl during her Rumspringa. I responded with excitement because I have had opportunities to immerse myself in the world of Amish fiction for the past few years. This is another example of God at work in my life. I agreed to write the story with Thanksgiving as the target completion date. But as I drove home from Nashville, the middle grade characters reclaimed my heart, and their story flooded my mind.
I spent about a month on the middle grade book, but a dear friend encouraged me to give the Amish story a try. Literary agents know the market–it might be in my best interest to follow their advice. So, I set aside my seventh graders and created a community among the Amish. In November, I sent the literary agent a synopsis and the first three chapters of the Amish novel. She requested the full manuscript in December. At the end of January, she offered representation, and I signed a contract with her! We had our first phone meeting earlier this week.
In preparation for the meeting, I considered book ideas for an Amish series anchored by the manuscript in her hands. I wrote a synopsis for book #2 and composed a paragraph about book #3. When a second series came to light, I did preliminary research and jotted down my ideas. The day before the big phone call, I shared the pitches with my writers group and noted their suggestions.
I was excited for the conversation with the agent because she and I had such a positive interaction when we met in person. On many occasions I’ve heard the relationship between writers and agents is critically important–you function as a team. The great vibe continued over the phone. In addition to the book ideas I mentioned, we talked about revisions, how I can improve as a writer, what we need to do to prepare a proposal, and how she pitches to editors. She outlined the next steps for me and explained how she will help manage my time. When I asked about the middle grade manuscript, she offered to pass it along to their agent who works in that division of the industry. I sent a synopsis and the first three chapters along with Vacation Bible School curriculum I created based on the book. I look forward to the feedback–does it have potential? Or should I set it aside for good?
For now, I will push forward with revisions and research. Hotel reservations have been made, and I can’t wait for the road trips!