I've admittedly been TWITCHING to post a success story, especially after the rabid fighting that went on behind the scenes for this particular entry! Enjoy, in the author's own words:
After a year of writing my 1960s-set YA novel The Astronaut's Daughter, I decided to dip my toes in the submission world by promptly signing up for three blog pitch contests in September 2012. By the month's end, I was drowning in feedback, but that's exactly what I wanted: feedback--and possibly some agent attention--before I started querying. I received quite a few requests from agents, a mix of fulls and partials.
The Authoress' Baker's Dozen contest rolled around just as agent responses (er, rejections) started rolling in. I'd been an avid commenter during the monthly Secret Agent contests, and since my MS was ready to go, I entered. A few names on the list were too good to pass up. Getting through to the final round felt like a victory in itself; I'd read about this contest for two years and knew how competitive it would be.
Now, because I had a bit of contest knowledge from my busy September, I assumed (wrongly) that the day the BD contest went live, the agents would leisurely peruse and comment on the entries throughout the day. I was quite proud of myself for having just set an appointment for an HVAC company to clear out the ductwork in my house, when a fellow writer (Baker's Dozen success story Helene Dunbar, who I met through Miss Snark's critique partner match up) emailed me about the bids on my MS. Then I saw the twitter interactions: are you seeing what's happening on Miss Snark's blog?!
Bidding for my entry closed out in just a few minutes, with some bickering between the agents (playfully, I'm told, though with agents you never know). Besides the winning agent, I received 4 more requests from Baker's Dozen. Within days, Authoress was emailing me that the agents wanted to know why I hadn't sent the MS. They were EAGER! In the time between entering the contest and the actual bidding, I'd heard back from several agents from previous submissions who pointed out the same weakness in my story. While my MS was technically complete, I knew that changes were needed. I contacted the agents to let them know I could send now, as-is, or if they were willing to wait a few weeks, I could incorporate my revisions and send then. The winning agent suggested I take my time and send it in the new year, given December is a slow time for publishing. She agreed I should offer up my best work.
I revised, sent to readers, made corrections, and sent the MS out in mid-January. I received one rejection right away (it hurt too, she is a really good agent). I was sure I'd need to overhaul it again, but I wanted to wait for the other rejections before picking it apart. (To pass the time, I played a lot of Halo 4 multi-player and read non-fiction books on American wars--latent aggression to deal with...) The first week of February, the winning agent emailed me with an offer. I was shocked! The east coast was prepping for a blizzard, so she suggested we set up a call for the following Monday. I nudged the other agents, and received a request for a call with a second agent, who had been involved in the fierce and fast bidding. Both of them encouraged me to reach out to their clients, and that almost made the decision more difficult. Their clients LOVE them--like gushing, raving, exploding with joy kind of affection. I spent a few days frantically sending out twitter DMs and trading emails with other writers.
In the end, I signed with Sarah LaPolla of Curtis Brown, Ltd. She'd won the Baker's Dozen bidding war, she'd hounded Authoress about when I was sending my MS, she'd given me the luxury of editing through to the new year, and her enthusiasm practically reached out through the phone. In our call, she kept bringing the conversation back to specifics about my book, what she liked, how we could strengthen it, and its future in the market. I'm still shocked, but so excited. I'm grateful for this blog for helping me craft a query and an opening page, and of course for the contest. Thank you Authoress for all you do!