Thursday, June 24, 2010

How I Found my Agent--Guest Post: Rachele Alpine

I made a writer friend this year who happens to live in my city. It's Rachele Alpine from Freckle Head.
She is agented by Lina Sion from Global Literary Management and her YA book CANARY is currently out on submission to editors in publishing houses. Let's all cross our fingers for her!

Here's a blurb of CANARY:

Kate Franklin’s dad is good at coaching basketball; what he isn’t good at is communicating with Kate and her brother Brett. When her mother dies, he shuts down, throwing himself into basketball as a way to cope with his grief, leaving Kate alone in silence.

When he lands a job at Beacon, Kate finds it easy to fit in when she starts dating a player on the team, while her brother, shy and weak, is rejected by the school. Kate quickly learns to overlook the perks given to the athletes who openly disgrace her brother for not being one of them.

However, the players take their power too far one night at a party and Kate is raped. Kate doesn’t stay silent about the rape, but her accusations aren’t accepted by the Beacon community. The school rallies with the team and lashes out at her. Ugly rumors are created to destroy Kate and her credibility.

She’s not praised for her decision to be truthful, but instead, it brings terrible consequences. The final blow comes when her dad tries to silence her in order to protect the team.

The world that Kate believed was safe is now her worst enemy, and Kate must decide whether to stay silent or expose the corruption, destroying her father’s career and bringing down a town’s heroes.

Sounds GREAT, right?

So I thought it would be fun to have Rachele tell us her agent story, since writers LOVE to hear them, right?

Take it away, Rachele:

My query story may be a little more complex than others (or at least it was a round about process).

I sent about fifteen queries out during the middle of January of 2009. The very first request I got was from a huge agent at Writers House. Hmmm. I wonder exactly who that agent was?

I didn’t know what the process of querying was going to be like, so I was seriously floored when I got her request. I had always told myself that I wanted to be published by the time I was 30 and that request came ten days before my 30th birthday. I still remember getting the letter in the mailbox. It was for a full request, and I started crying. I’m a sucker, I tell you! However, it was the first time I really believed that maybe my book could get published.

I sent the full manuscript to her (and tracked the delivery confirmation hourly) and waited and waited and waited. This agent actually became one of the last agents I heard from before signing with my agent now (that shows how long the query process can take!).

About halfway into February I got an e-mail from an agent who was interested in my work. We talked back and forth for awhile, she commented all over my manuscript with ideas and thoughts, but then when we started talking she was focused on revising a specific aspect of the story if I signed with her. I would have been fine with revising, but what she wanted me to change was essential to my book. The story is written in half blog/half narrative and she didn’t like the way that worked. At the time, though, it wasn’t written in blog yet, but the story would go from narration to poetry.

I cringe now when I think about how I queried it like that, because after working with one of my MFA professors, I changed it to the blog format, but at the time the agent wanted me to change too much. It was a huge deal and really hard to turn her down, but I have never looked back on the decision to have faith in my writing and not want to change something that I felt was important to the story.

I had some full requests in the spring (so, about four months later), including two from agents who both loved the story but felt the beginning and the climax weren’t strong enough. I worked with the two of them extensively through e-mail conversations and took the summer of 2009 to revise my manuscript. I contacted the first agent and the other agents with fulls and they agreed to wait and read the book when I resubmitted the revised versions.

I finished the revisions in September (nine months after querying began), but I couldn’t bring myself to let go of the manuscript. These were agents I loved, and I was scared the story wasn’t ready (although their help and suggestions made the book a million times better).

It wasn’t until late October, when I was home sick with H1N1 that I finally sent the manuscript to the agents who were waiting on fulls. I was so sick, and I knew if I didn’t send the manuscript, I would continue to work on it even though I was extremely sick, so in a fit of a delirious high fever, I sent the manuscript.

I waited on the agents and in the meantime sent a few more queries out to new agents I had heard about, including Lina. Lina read a partial, requested the full a few days later and by the end of the week offered representation. It was a whirlwind and I had seven more fulls out and agents to contact before I decided to sign with Lina.

It was Thanksgiving weekend, and I was on the phone/communicating with a few of the agents (including the Writers House agent and her assistant). The end result gave me some choices, including agents interested in working with me, agents who wanted me to revise, agents who didn’t think they were the right fit for my book and agents who didn’t have time to read the manuscript in such a short period of time (which included one of the agents who helped with the summer edits and who I believe helped make my book what it is now).

I signed with Lina right after Thanksgiving, and I don’t regret my decision at all. I love Lina and think I ended up with an amazing agent.

In all, Rachele queried for about 11 months. So hang in there everyone! Keep an open mind to critiques, revise and revise (if warranted) and make your story SING!

And while you're waiting, read encouraging stories like these!



Rachele Alpine said...

Thanks for posting my story! :) Let's hope your reader's querying stories my submission story is a bit shorter!

Unknown said...

This was so special!!! Thank you for sharing Rachele, thanks for hosting Christina!!!

She'll be on my blog soon enough for an interview!!! I'm very excited about it!

JE said...

Wow - what a ride! Congrats to Rachele for her hard work and determination!


Creepy Query Girl said...

Wow- that is amazing! To have had so much help and feedback and interest in your story from several agents just speak volumes! I hope you get your publishing deal asap!

Kristan said...

Wow, I'm a loyal reader of Rachele's blog, and I had never heard this story. What a good one! (H1N1?!?!??!?!??! Yowza!)

Well the end results were well deserved. Congrats, and thanks for sharing!

Matthew MacNish said...

Rachele is the best! Really nice to get to know her (real life) story a little better, thanks Christina.

BTW Rachele did a guest post for me a while back and if your readers want to see her actual query with some of her analysis they can go here.

Great post.

Maddy said...

What a nerve wracking process!! Glad you believed in yourself and your work to not change it to suit this particular agent. You waited for the right fit and it paid off in the end! Kudos :)

Sharlene T. said...

Very interesting process...thanks for sharing...and, I hope you'll be just as successful...come visit when you can...

Kristine Asselin said...

Great story! Very inspiring, thanks Rachele and Christina!

Erica Mitchell said...

Thanks Christina and Rachel for this post, and story. It's always encouraging to hear the process and how it works so differently for people but it always finds a way to work out for the best when people finally do sign, it's with the best fitting agent. :) Yikes, I also got H1N1...horrid!

JEM said...

Thanks for the story! I always love to see the different paths people take.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your story, Rachele! It's such an inspiration to read about your determination and hardwork.

MBW aka Olleymae said...

What a cool story! I loooove to hear how other writers got their agents. I would feel so torn trying to pick out which agent was the right fit, but what an awesome problem to have. Thanks for sharing, guys!!!

Bossy Betty said...

Thanks! So cool to hear how people got their agents.

Rachele Alpine said...

Thanks for all the great comments! Who knows...if I hadn't gotten sick, I may still be holding on to that manuscript revising! I guess there was one good thing about being sick!

Pamela Gold said...

I loved reading this.... I hope you took your own advice to heart because you too, are fantastic!

Tahereh said...

wow such a great story! it's so interesting to hear everyone's querying processes -- they're often so different! :D

fingers crossed for you!!

BonBon Rose Girls Kristin said...

Most definitely inspirational. Thanks to you and Rachele for sharing!

Lindsay said...

Wow what an inspiring post. I love hearing about the query process. I'm sure Rachele's book will be snapped up. Fingers crossed.