Today, I’m thrilled to welcome my brutally honest and amazing Critique Partner, Jaye Robin Brown. She’s here to talk about her publishing journey, a little bit of luck, and a lot of determination. Enjoy!
My philosophy has always been to walk through open doors. If the doors stop opening, it’s not meant to be.
So when my first agent parted ways with me, my immediate reaction was that a door had slammed in my face. And this publishing dream I’d been so swept up in, was over.
I’m very, very lucky to have honest and kind critique partners. Their honesty keeps me honest and their kindness can get me over my neurotic writer self. So they let me spend a few hours wailing and gnashing my teeth. They watched me curl into a ball and pound my fists on the Internet floor. Then when the stream of tears slowed, they told me to get over myself.
One CP in particular told me to query a certain digital editor with an old manuscript. She thought it’d be right up his alley. I did. I had a full request within three hours. This match was not meant to be, but what it did was renew my confidence in myself and in my writing.
So I pulled up my bootstraps, grieved for the manuscript my first agent had shopped but not sold, and got back to work on the current manuscript. I finished it. My CP’s had super things to say. I kind of liked it. So I started querying. Again.
Immediately I had interest. I’d say my request rate was about 40%. I had a helpful rejection on a full and I went back in and tweaked the tension. I queried more. I entered blog contests. And I had more requests. In the end, I had three solid agent offers, and one amazing R&R request.
So not only had the door cracked back open, but it was like Let’s Make A Deal. I had three doors I could walk through and even a window if I chose that route.
I chose Door A. Or Alexandra Machinist of Janklow & Nesbit. She was connected, had a solid sales record, was super easy to talk to, and most importantly she was convinced she could sell my book.
And this is where it gets better. That cracked window? The amazing R&R request? Well that agent had lunch with an editor the day I made my decision. She told the editor “she absolutely must get in touch with Alexandra Machinist.” About what? About my manuscript. As the editor told my agent, “She was bemoaning the loss of a client to you.” Me? Someone was bemoaning the loss of me? How was that possible? Just four months prior, I’d been thrown out to the curb like bad Chinese food.
Fast forward a few weeks and I noticed an editor from Harper Collins was following me on Twitter. I DM’ed my agent. She replied that the editor LOVED my manuscript. I began to freak out in the best way possible. But the hallway I now traveled had multiple doors. One labeled Editorial Board Meeting. One labeled Acquisitions Meeting. One labeled, appropriately, Let’s Make a Deal With The Agent And Author Meeting. Doors, doors, everywhere. Would they stay open. Or would they close?
Turns out, they stayed open. Wide open. And now the dream is a reality. Harper Teen not only bought my contemporary Young Adult novel, NO PLACE TO FALL, but contracted me for a second novel. And though I know there will always be doors to walk through, for now, I’m going to hang out right here in this cozy room.
P.S. Jen McConnel – hostess of this blog – happened to be with me the day of the Acquisitions Meeting door. She was sitting less than ten feet away from me when the offer came in. Yay for honest and kind critique partners!