I had trouble conceptualizing what my life even was. I had always known I would break into the literary world… but this? A memoir? A co-written memoir about my marriage?
I had never, in a million years, considered that this would be my bold break into the world of books. And yet, it was happening.
Like the email instructed, I called the agent for the first time since we'd talked nine months before.
I called my agent. MINE.
In my research of the literary world, I had learned that the way to get published was that a person wrote a manuscript, finished it, perfected it, and then queried an agent, offering to let him or her see it. If the agent liked the finished manuscript, then he or she would try to sell it to a publishing house by sending that finished manuscript to editors who might be interested in purchasing it, offering an advance.
An advance for the product. For the finished product.
But our agent was flipping that on its head. "Sometimes, with memoir," he explained in our phone call, "it's best to just have 20 or 30 pages completed and then a really well-constructed proposal. That way an editor can know what they're getting into, and can help guide the process if they want to."
I was shocked. What was he saying? Was he saying that we were ready to start submitting to publishers? Already? Like… now?
"So," he continued, "we'll take a few weeks to have you and Lolly write the proposal and get the first 20 pages in tip-top shape. Then we'll go on submission."
My mind reeled. On submission in a few weeks.
Suddenly, the timeline in my brain shifted drastically. When I sent him the email the week before I'd been expecting to get some encouragement, a nice head pat, and a "send it to me when you're done." I was maybe thinking that, in a dream-land, he would offer to represent us.
I had never, in a million years, expected that within a week I'd be starting to work on a proposal that would be seen by every major publishing house in the industry.
Later that day, I sent him an email:
Hey, great talking to you this morning. Sorry if I seemed a little subdued--truth is I'm kinda freaking out over here at what's happening, and trying my best to remain staid. We are incredibly excited by the possibilities...
Anyway, we're totally pumped to have you as an agent. We feel that we're in good hands.
His reply came quickly:
Totally understand. It's a lot to process. Just know that I've been doing this for a long time and I'll be here for you guys every step of the way. It's going to be a fun ride, I promise.
So quick, so abrupt--in one week we'd gone from working on a half-written first draft in our little office at nights to, all of the sudden, being represented by an amazing agent who was having us write a proposal which the biggest names in publishing industry would soon be seeing with their very own eyes.
It was terrifying.
But also… it was thrilling. This was actually happening!
The train had left the station, and we were on it. We had just had our ticket stamped, the conductor had validated our seats, and we were speeding toward our destination. It was time to sit back. Relax. Enjoy the view. Enjoy watching as my dreams came true, and in the most unexpected and exciting way I could have ever imagined.
Lolly and I read his email and then took a deep breath. Our new agent had been doing this a long time. His track record was solid. He was going to take care of us. He said it, right there in black and white. A fun ride. It was going to be a fun ride.