Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Our First 2012 Baker's Dozen SUCCESS STORY!

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!

Stephanie Scott 
Twitter: @StephScottIL

34 comments:

  1. What a wonderful success story! It's so nice being able to see how writers are seeing their dreams realized. Congratulations to Stephanie and Sarah!

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  2. Welcome to TEAM SARAH! She is, hands down, the absolute best.

    This was such a nice post to read, to know that Authoress is STILL tirelessly giving back to writers. She is a wonder.

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  3. Great to see. Congratulations!

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  4. Congratulations, Stephanie! This was a great success story to read, I love hearing how everything comes together.

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  5. Congrats! I wasn't participating, but I remember hopping on to see how the bidding was going, and I remember the comments on yours. It's nice to know how it ended.

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  6. That is awesome! Congratulations, Stephanie!

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  7. I love this story! Yay and congrats!!!

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  8. Congratulations! I love seeing stories like this.

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  9. Congratulations! What a great story - look forward to hearing more success about your book in the future!

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  10. Congratulations, Stephanie. This is such a great story. So great it gave me chills! Wishing you continued success!

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  11. Stephanie: very happy for you! I have become an avid fan of Miss Snark's site and wish you all the best. (I joined Miss Snark after your story was posted, sure wish I could see the opening). Anyway, hoping you have riotous publishing success. Cheryl

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  12. Authoress, can you post the link to her entry? I WANT TO READ IT NOW :D *salivates* Congrats!

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  13. A HUGE congratulations!! :) I remember seeing The Astronaut's Daughter pop up a few times over the past half a year, and I've absolutely loved it all the way. Well-deserved!

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  14. A very interesting project from the snippets I have read and certainly inspiring to see someone who obviously worked extremely hard and smart in preparing before subbing find success. Quite apart from your good news, you should be commended as one of the people who find the time to offer helpful critique on many, many entries. That is a wonderful way to give back to this community and I certainly appreciate it as someone who has had my own project in the past benefit from your kind and gentle observations.

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  15. Here is her BD entry:

    http://misssnarksfirstvictim.blogspot.com/2012/11/53-ya-historical-romance-astronauts.html

    For some reason, NONE OF THE BD ENTRIES ARE SHOWING UP IN THE ARCHIVES!! What is Blogger doing to me??? :-(

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  16. Congratulations! Stories like these always make me happy! :)

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  17. @Happy Dolphin, I enjoy the secret agent contests so much, I've learned a lot by lurking and commenting! I see you comment quite a bit too! I'm always interested to see which entries the agent picks.

    Thanks again everyone, I'm feeling the love! (Now to work on edits).

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  18. I remember seeing your entry on blog contests! I love reading success stories, so thank you for sharing. :)

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  19. Congratulations! I remember the bidding war that day. Your entry was so good!

    Best wishes to you and your writing!

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  20. Stephanie, I knew it was going to happen for you. Your idea and your writing was just too good. Congrats! I hope to see this puppy on the shelf very soon.

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  21. All I have to say is- WOO HOO! (and here's hoping for a speedy sale) : )

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  22. Congratulations, Stephanie. What an inspirational story. I always found your comments well thought out and interesting; clearly you spend a great deal of time on them, and it's great to see karma in action here!

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