It's true! Miss Snark's First Victim's NINTH SUCCESS STORY is official! Here it is, in the words of the happy couple:
Leigh T. Moore + Kate McKean
I feel like my journey to Kate is unusual, but maybe it isn’t. It starts with a different book, PERFECT, that I finished last May and began sending queries for over the summer.
Several agents requested PERFECT, and by Thanksgiving, I was working on a revise- resubmit. Then that person left the business. She referred me to another agent, but I never heard back from that person.
In the meantime, a different agent requested a revise-resubmit, and by March I’d sent it back to her.
ROUGE enters the picture last September with me following that advice we all get while languishing in Query Purgatory: “Write while you wait.”
I’d started two other manuscripts over the summer—one related to PERFECT, and my YA light-sci-fi romance JACKSON (for my husband). But the wind changed, and an unseasonably cool day got me thinking about growing up in south Louisiana.
So I wrote ROUGE instead.
Actually, I struggled with settling down to write it. I’d never written a historical, and I wasted loads of time on Google “researching” (playing). I sent it through my awesome critique partners, and then I put it in the drawer to marinate.
Back to PERFECT, I starting thinking about the feedback I’d gotten—the comments that it would be hard to sell right now, the questions of whether I had a fantasy, and the always humorous (but nice!) “Send me your next novel.”
I dragged out my next novel (ROUGE) and decided to see how the opening struck you guys. I’d done the Secret Agent Contest before, and it really is a super way to get unbiased feedback.
I never expected to win.
And when the agent was unveiled, I was amazed. Kate is fantastic, and not one of my "middle agents".
I read through ROUGE again, polished a few rough edges, and sent it to her. And four days later I got an offer on PERFECT.
My head was spinning, the offer was from a super agency I would be pleased to work with. But as we talked, the agent and I did not have great chemistry. I asked for a week to get back with her and the hand-wringing began.
JRM (my husband) says, “Who cares! You’re not looking for a buddy, you’re looking for an agent!” I felt very much his implication was Stop being such a girl!
I knew he was right…in theory.
I sent Kate an email explaining what happened and saying I didn’t know where that left us. She quickly replied that I should send her PERFECT.
Five of the longest days of my life passed, and I received a two-line email from Kate: “Reading ROUGE and LOVING it. More soon!”
My throat closed up.
The next day she sent me the funniest email about ROUGE and how it ends. I emailed her back with my road map for the sequel. She asked if we could talk the next day, and I said in my calmest, most professional email voice. “Whee!” (I mean, “Sure!”)
From start to finish, our hour and a half conversation was exactly right. Her ideas for the future fit mine, our styles are identical, we have a similar background. We clicked like two little Lego pieces, and I felt I could trust her.
I told her I’d call her the next day with my answer, and immediately went for a run. I was so full of adrenaline, it was hard to breathe. I got back, and she’d emailed her agent-offer letter. It said everything I needed to hear.
I called JRM and said, “This is what I wanted.” He said, “Then what are you waiting for?” I hung up the phone and emailed her back.
And now Kate’s my agent!
And a huge THANK YOU to Authoress. I can’t say enough nice things about her or the contest. I’ll always remember this.
I like participating in things like Secret Agent because sometimes queries look different outside their natural habitat. But I read these entries the same way I read the slush pile--waiting for that feeling in my gut that says: "Read me."
When I read Leigh's piece, that's exactly what happened. I was hooked, and I wanted more. It's as simple as that. Her work opened dramatically and piqued my interest. Her entry ended: "Secretly, of course, as this was not Rampart Street or Canal, and in 1890s New Orleans that meant one thing." What one thing!!?!??! What one thing!?!?!? Leigh was also working in a genre that I represent (YA Historical) and it didn't hurt that several editors had told me they would love a theater/dance YA novel. Hopefully that meant historical, too.
I let Authoress know that this, and one more, were my winners and she put me in touch with the authors. Leigh sent her manuscript in quickly, and I added it to my list. (I peeked a little first and read her query letter to find out what the ONE THING!?!?! was--though I really try to read things as they come in.) Except when the author emails me to tell me they have another offer of representation. Agents love a little healthy competition. So it moved to the top of the pile, and I started reading right away. Leigh said she wanted to tell the other agent her decision in a week--which is exactly the protocol I would suggest. 100% reasonable and profession, kudos to Leigh. I switched into speed-reader mode and got to work.
But I didn't really have to go into hyperdrive because the work was so GOOD! It was happening--that feeling I get when I forget I'm reading a submission and get lost in the work as an actual book. The pages (err, Kindle clicks) flew by and I had no problem meeting her deadline. The work had just what I was looking for: an interesting story, in a genre I represent, suitable for editors I already know. Win! But, the last big question loomed: was the author sane?
Sometimes, writers aren't sane. So we set up a call and lo and behold! Leigh is sane! We had a great call and really clicked. Our similar backgrounds helped (though we might have a little trouble being civil during college football season), and it was clear to me she was a professional writer looking for a professional career. I made my offer, was happy to wait for her to have some time to think about it, and was excited to hear back shortly thereafter that she'd made her decision and picked me. We agents get nervous about this step, too, yanno. And we all like to win what I call the Agent Beauty Contest.
In the end, there was no magic formula. Oh, except good work, hard work, professionalism, and opportunity. With that, you've got a good shot.
And we're off! We'll let you know when there's more good news to share!