My Agent Story. The Directors Cut. Part Deux of Deux

Alrighty y'all. Welcome to Part II of my agent story. If you're just now joining us (WELCOME!), you can check out Part I here! And you must read Part I before you read Part II. You wouldn't read Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire before Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban, would you?
If you're here for the inspirational MOJO, skip to the last paragraph. So, Without further ado--

WARNING: As with all my blog posts, poor grammar ahead... and foul language, too. For one of those things, I am sorry.

Part II: Spinning Teacups. It's all fun and games 'til someone pukes their guts out.

Chapter Four: Mondays will never be the same.

Okay, so before I got off the phone with Molly, she offered to get me in touch with one of her clients as a reference (another thing I didn't have to ask for, but was given).(Reminder: We left off on Monday, February 27th.)

Within twenty minutes, I received an email from Molly's client who had amazing things to say about both Molly and Folio. I was pleased as punch. But I couldn't say yes just yet.

I had work to do. At the time of my phone call with Molly I had fourteen full requests out, along with a handful of recently sent out queries. I sent out all those emails I never thought I would send, nudging these agents because I had an offer! I let them know I would like to make a decision in about a weeks time. Most agents responded within hours, but there were a few agents who I didn't hear back from for a couple days.

Sidenote: Some agents will ask you who has offered. It is completely up to you if you want to share that information. There are a few reasons (I'm assuming) they ask. 1. There are a lot of crazy queriers out there and it wouldn't surprise me to hear that someone pulled a trick like that to get to the top of the slush, and 2. Agents are competitive by nature-- as they should be! Sometimes if it's a close friend they might back down or if it's someone they're in competition with they might be a little more aggressive. The point is: This information is yours to share. In my case, any agents who requested that information were very polite, so I did not mind sharing. However, I did ask for their confidentiality, which I thought was fair.

Chapter Six: When it hit me like an effing cruise ship.

So fast forward a few hours, and I'm in my cubicle on Monday afternoon at the library. None of this had really hit me yet. I had SQUEEEE'ed and gotten excited, but it hadn't sunk in just yet.

Until I got an email. FROM ONE OF MY FAVORITE AUTHORS. This author is also repped by Folio and in my phone call with Molly I had mentioned how big of a fan I was. Because I'm such a big fan of this author I had sent this person an email a few months ago letting them know how much I enjoyed their work. Anyway, I'm not gonna go too much into the details except to say that this author sent me the sweetest, most encouraging email, including their full endorsement of Folio. They also offered to speak with me about absolutely any questions I had concerning Folio, or any other agency I was considering. These were my reactions, in this exact order:

2. Bawling my eyes out at my desk, and when that got too embarrassing I took that circus to the bathroom.

I cried. Really hard. Because it finally hit me that maybe this uphill battle had plateaued for just a moment. And regardless of who I chose, I would have someone to walk the distance with me from here on out. That might sound cheesy or silly, but knowing that someone is willing to take a chance on you-- to bet on you (because that's what it is, really)-- is something I was not at all prepared to feel. I don't think any blog or forum can ever prepare you for that feeling.

Molly had officially wooed me. And that was only Monday.

Chapter Seven: The Week of No Sleep.

You all already know the ending to this story and you're reading this because you're either my mom or just really nice. Since you know, that in the end, I picked Molly I won't go into too much detail concerning other offers (also, that'd be super unprofessional), but I will give you an overview of my week.

This is what my week looked like in offers:

Monday 2/27: Molly offered. At this point I truly felt that, regardless of other offers, I would go with Molly. However, I did not anticipate how awesome everyone in the agenting world would be.
Tuesday 2/28: No offers.
Wednesday 2/29: Agent 2 offered. Julie = Shocked
Thursday 3/1: Agent 3 offered. Julie = SWOON.
Friday 3/2: Agent 4 offered. So, maybe this wasn't all a fluke?

Saturday 3/3 & Sunday 3/4: Wow. The weekend. Over the weekend I received one unsolicited request from an agent with an agency who does not take unsolicited requests. Crazypants. I did, however, decline, because as it was my decision was difficult enough and I did not feel I would be swayed from my top prospects. I also received a couple responses from agents who I had always respected. They requested my fulls but only if their offers would sway my decision. I felt very strongly that I would make my decision between agents who currently had my fulls, so I declined sending my manuscript.

Monday 3/5: Agent 5 & Agent 6 offered. Back-to-back phone calls. Insane.
Tuesday 3/7: Agent 7 offered. At this point, I was sure that unicorns existed as well.

Chapter Eight: The Julie Complex.

So when an agent offers there's THE call. THE MYTHICAL CALL. So I did THE call seven times, and here's the thing: These agents were all awesome, every single one of them. Not only are they awesome, but they're telling you that you're awesome. When you're a writer, or any type of artist at all, you get used to rejection. You expect it. And without even knowing it, rejection starts to become like a security blanket, something you can always expect. So, I never thought it might be like this. That hearing so many people liked my manuscript would be so overwhelming. But it was. The best way I can explain is this: I felt like the ugly girl who got hot over the summer and now everyone wanted to hook up with her, and just for good measure throw in  daddy issues too! Already, I was thinking, "What if I never write a book like this again?", "What if I suck at revising?", "What if one of these agents sign me and just figures out I'm only a really obnoxious girl from Texas?"

I don't have an answer to these things just yet and I don't know that I ever will. I'm still figuring it out as I go, so To Be Continued...

 Chapter Nine: Natural Selection.

Decision Time. So, they all love you, but they all want different things too. Most of the agents all agreed on specific things. Also, unless your name's Judy Blume, you will be asked to make revisions before going on submission. Each agent had a different idea of what my revision process would be like and when they would like to go on submission. Not kidding. I heard as soon as next week all the way up to ten months. But, then some of them started asking for things I knew I wasn't really down with. And little by little, I whittled my list down to three agents, including Molly. Because I'm a total baby, hearing seven very differing opinions on my manuscript was another thing I was not at all prepared for. 

When I first started compiling my query letter and my list of agents, my critique partners and beta's asked me who my dream agents were. When I queried my first MS, I had a set idea of who would be perfect for my MS. But this time, it was different. This time I didn't have any one person in mind.

Sidenote: I did, however, have specifics I looked for. I looked for mostly newer agents (less than 3-5 years experience) who worked with very reputable agencies. I wanted someone with a selectively growing list, but with the benefits of a well recognized agency. I wanted an editorial agent, too. And, lastly I looked for people who I would want to have a conversation with.

So, dream agent. For me, it was whoever loved the story I had created just as much as I did. An agent whose passion rivaled my own. Someone who got my characters. A partner and friend who wanted to stick with me for the long haul.

My decision was difficult. But, at the end of the day, no matter which way I framed it, I couldn't picture myself not saying yes to Molly.

So I typed up this huge, long, verbose email that sounded nothing like me. I adressed it to Molly and I read it like eleven times before saying "Eff it, I'm calling her." So I did, and when I said yes to Molly she was just as excited as I was. And if there had been a doubt in my mind it was completely vanquished. And, and, and if there had been any other doubts (which there weren't) those fizzled out when I received my first editorial letter and fully saw just how much Molly got me and my characters.

So I signed my contract. And I took a picture because I'm a first-day-of-school-picture kind of gal.
Well, you guys, that's the story. That's how it happened. I am the luckiest girl in the world and I am so ready for this wild ride. I'm currently working my way through revisions... and guess what? I might not suck at them. But we'll see.  That's more of a day by day thing.

Chapter Ten: The Geekenomics. Boring.
One last thing before I close this sucker out. My stats. These are the gory, tacky details that I would want to know. PS- I just did this math tonight, so if you asked this question recently the answer may have been wrong, but these are the right numbers!
Queries Sent: 22
Query Rejections: 10
Request After Signing: 1
No Response: 1
Full Requests via Queries:12
Unsolicited Request: 1
*1 full request I did not send because I had nearly made my decision and the agent was a little late in requesting.
Contests Entered: 3
Full Requests via Contest: 7
*1 request I did not send because the agent required a synopsis and I did not have one prepared. The agent later contacted me saying they would have made an exception. This was only a day or two before making my decision, so I declined sending my full. But, lesson to you: always ask!
Total Requests: 20
Full Rejections: 10
*3 requests I did not send. Some rejections were agents stepping back due to lack of time. Some had genuine problems with my manuscript. And some said they would have asked for an R&R if I didn't have other offers on the table.

The Bloody Epilogue:

Finally, the end. You made it. Let's eat cupcakes.

This is the part where I get cheesy and inspirational. So if this isn't your cup of tea, then skedaddle! I'm sitting here all teary eyed typing this up at half past midnight. And if you're here, if you're still reading this (full on tears now) and if you're a writer or a painter or a plumber or a dreamer or whatever the fuck it is you are-- keep going. I know it's easier said than done, but I can say it because I'm doing it. I'm going. And as much as I love my agent and as pleased as I am to be working with her, she does not make me a writer. The words on the page make me a writer. My being a writer is no different now than it was in December with my stack of 50+ rejections. So whether you're writing on your lunch break and working that shit 8 hour a day job or if you're living in England and writing a book about a beautiful boy wizard who will save the world-- you're a writer. You are a writer.

My name is Julie Murphy and I am a writer.

PS- Have a question? Feel free to ask!

Don't forget to enter my giveaway for THE LIST by Siobhan Vivian! It's my first giveaway, so if you don't enter I'll be heart broken and I'll probably never get on the internet again.


My Agent Story. The Directors Cut. Part un of deux.

Part I: Inclining Roller Coaster-- The Creaking, Wooden Variety. 

The Hated Prologue
If you're reading this you're here for the long version of the story. I went back and forth on posting this because it all felt so me-me-me-me-self-centered. And I'm really bad at talking about myself. But, as my lovely critique partner, Valerie, pointed out, this is my blog. Plus, I loved reading these stories when I was querying, so I hope you'll feel the same. Yeah, if you follow this blog or follow me on Twitter then you already know how lucky I am to call the fantastic Miss Molly Jaffa (Folio Literary Management) my agent. And if you didn't know that, then-- SURPRISE! Anyway, if you're really curious or really creepy (yay, creepy!!!) here's a breakdown of how it all went down.

*I plan on doing a blog post about what I did differently from MS1 to MS2, so this post will just focus on the querying process for my second manuscript. That being said, I received 50+ rejections on my first manuscript-- many of those from agents whom I received offers from (including Molly! If you're reading, Hi Mojo Molly 1 of 2!). So, I get rejection you guys. I really do.

WARNING: As with all my blog posts, poor grammar ahead... and foul language, too. For one of those things, I am sorry.

Chapter One: The Query Shuffle

I started dipping my toes in the query pool sometime around the first week of February. I wasn't 100% sure of my manuscript, but at the same time I was at this point where I didn't feel I could take my MS any further on my own. And, too, I was scared of over-editing and losing my voice. So, know when to query. But, above all, don't query too soon. Because I've done that before, and it's bad news bears.

So, I received a handful of requests and a couple rejections, too. Things started to feel like they might be getting serious, so I decided to examine my list of agents to see who I had yet to query. I didn't want to leave any stone unturned. On that list of un-queried agents was Molly. And, full disclosure, I almost didn't query her. Mainly, because, even after putting one manuscript to bed, I was still terrified of rejection. And, well, from what I'd seen on Query Tracker and on different forums Molly seemed to be really selective and I had always admired her and I didn't want to have to highlight her name in red on my nifty query spreadsheet. In fact, I couldn't ever really remember seeing any recent requests from her. And if I got rejection from Molly with this MS, well then that was it. So, I figured why bother? I didn't see the point in adding another rejection to my stats (which is really freaking stupid). But, then I started chatting up my critique partner and another good friend, and we came to this conclusion: WHY THE HELL NOT? I had already done all the leg work, all the internet stalking, (ya know, the dissecting of every word of every interview you can find), and had already trolled her bio page on the Folio website. (Read: hit F5 68,000 times to see if her bio had updated for whatever reason. Creepy, I know.)

Okay, anyway, on Monday (2/20) at like 1 in the morning, I grew a pair and queried Molly.

Chapter Two: Wear Your Best, Because You Got a Fucking Request

That chapter title made no sense. Roll with it you guys.

I woke up a few hours later, after sending my query, and pretended like it didn't happen so I could just function like a normal human being at work. Then, later that afternoon I pulled out my phone and that goddamn light was blinking. EMAIL. EMAIL. EMAIL. I took a deep breath and told myself it would just be a stupid email from Sephora or something. But then I opened my email and it wasn't from Sephora or Petsmart or Amazon or any of those things you should really unsubscribe to before querying because every time that light blinks you go into cardiac arrest. It was most definitely a reply from Molly, and in less than 24 hours. Molly replied using my first name and to my querying friends you know what this means. It usually means good news or at least a semi-personalized rejection. But it wasn't a rejection, it was a full request, saying she was "captivated". Well Holy Pangea, y'all.

So I got home from work that night and sent that bad boy off. All the while, I was participating in Cupid's Blind Speed Dating contest, Miss Snark's First Victim's Secret Agent Contest, and Operation Awesome's Secret Agent Contest, which was B-A-N-A-N-A-S.

Molly sent me a lovely confirmation email upon receipt of my manuscript. She said it would be a couple weeks. So, I prepared myself for a long wait.

Footnote: Let me go slightly off topic for just a minute and say, Molly was so lovely in her emails. A lot of times when I've received requests, in the past, I've had this feeling like the agent was doing me a huge favor just by thinking about maybe looking at my manuscript. Now, agents are obscenely busy people, OBSCENELY, and I don't expect for them to fawn over me-- not in the least, but Molly genuinely made me feel like reading my manuscript was a priority for her and she expressed real interest.

Chapter Three: You've Got Mail

Okay so back to the waiting. Alright, sent off my full on Monday (2/20).
Thursday. By Thursday 2/23, I had received a few more requests since Monday (and if I recall, some contest results had begun to trickle in which I received requests on as well). And around 5pm, I was headed to an author event in North Dallas with some friends. (Breathless Reads Tour!!!) We were stuck in this horrible bumper-to-bumper traffic and thankfully I wasn't driving because my phone effing beeped. It was Molly. She couldn't put down my manuscript and she would "love, love, love" to talk to me about it.

OMG. You guys, I tried to get out of the car because I was so freaked out. Bumper-to-bumper traffic on the freeway.

I screamed. I couldn't even talk. I had to show my friends the email because I could barely breathe. Then I called my Ian. Then I called my mom nineteen times before` she picked up, and when I told her she SQEEEEE'ed big time too. I went to the author event and proceeded to live on Cloud 9 for a couple hours, but then I started to think "Okay, what if she just wants to talk R&R?" (*non-writer friends R&R=Revise & Resubmit) Which, by the way, would not have been bad news. Just a different kind of news.

So, we arranged a phone call for Monday morning-- exactly a week from the day I had sent my initial query.

That weekend was hell. I was so nervous I thought I might swallow my tongue at any moment. Then Monday came, and I woke up at some hideous hour because I was too excited to sleep. I kept telling myself not to make any inappropriate jokes... because 9 out of 10 things I say are usually inappropriate... or not to ask any intrusive questions... because if I ever want to know something I just ask, whether or not I should.

Chapter Three:  People Still Talk on the Phone?

If you're still reading this, you're a freaking champ. Seriously, go get yourself a wine cooler.

It should be said, that I am horrible at talking on the phone. HORRIBLE. So, for this phone call, I was especially petrified.

Monday morning came and Molly called right on time. I had done my homework and made a list of questions I would ask, should she offer. I had also stood in front of a mirror for hours trying to talk about myself and my work, for practice. Unfortunately, I am not kidding.

We talked. We normal talked. We book talked. We food talked. We Texas talked. And we career talked. Molly answered all my questions, without me ever really having to ask anything at all. We talked about my book and about me as a writer.

Molly talked about me and my work in words I never knew I always wanted to hear. I had never put much thought into what I wanted people to say about my writing, but when she talked, I had to stop myself from screaming, "YES THAT!!!" She used words that I had only ever used to describe my favorite authors and their books. And this is important you guys, because when it comes down to it, whichever agent you end up with is your advocate. And how they talk about you and your books matter.

Then she said, the magic Candy Land words, "You can consider this my formal offer of representation." Or something like that, I really don't know. I was in shock and my heart kinda like fell into my butt.
That's it for Part I! I'll have Part II up in the coming days! I'll be talking about the fourteen requests, along with some unanswered queries, I still had out when Molly offered, and what I though my "dream agent" was!

Feel free to leave a comment in the good old box! (Don't make me beg!) Questions, non-questions, links to cat videos-- whatever! *Cat videos preferred, obviously.

Don't forget to enter my giveaway for THE LIST by Siobhan Vivian! It's my first giveaway, so if you don't enter I'll be heart broken and I'll probably never get on the internet again. 


The List: a must-read for the writing reader. + Giveaway!!!

I was lucky enough to pick up The List by Siobhan Vivian at ALA Midwinter. Not only that, but, I was able to meet Siobhan! And she was such a gem. 
The List takes on beauty. Beauty in all shapes and forms. How we perceive beauty. How we measure beauty. How we internalize our feelings about our own beauty.
Okay, so the premise. Every year, there is a List. On this List are eight names. Two girls from each grade. The ugliest and the prettiest. The List takes the reader through a week in the shoes of these eight girls. 
 These girls, y'all. I felt for these girls. This is the type of book that makes you feel naked. It slips through your pores and lives inside of you for days after turning that last page. Each character was an authentic individual. No stereotypical ugly/pretty girls. (Sell me on your characters and you've got me by the heart.) And the ending you guys, left me with chills. I won't give away any more about the ending, except for that this ending is my favorite type of ending and Siobhan delivers it with finesse. So that is why, as a reader, you need to read The List.

Now, I'm going to break it down for my writer friends. There are some writers whose voice I could recognize anywhere. It's not a bad thing. It's why they have such loyal fans. But, in The List Siobhan takes on the identity of eight completely different characters living extreme versions of the same week. When I opened The List I read the title page, with the authors name, and then, you guys, Siobhan disappeared and in her place I found eight beautifully tragic high school girls who I connected with on largely significant levels. And here's the moral you guys. This is what I learned: Some of the most gifted writers know how to take a step back and allow their characters to speak for them. 

So, if you're a reader, I hope you read The List and let it take you through a week in the shoes of these eight girls. And if you're a writer, I hope you do that too. But take some damn notes, y'all. Because, Siobhan is on fire! (And her other books are pretty great aswell!!!)

Since I loved The List so much, I pre-ordered not just one-- but two copies! One for me! Duh! And one for you! Well, for one of you. 

To enter to win all you have to do is leave a comment, telling me about a book (not a how-to book) that taught you about writing or (if you don't write) one of your recent favorites! And please, please leave a way for me to contact you! Twitter or email! This contest is limited to the Continental US only, sorry! And you don't need to follow my blog, but I would truly appreciate it! And I would doubly appreciate it if you followed me on Twitter (@andimjulie)! Retweet this giveaway for an extra entry!!! I'll be using www.random.org to pick the winner! Contest open until March 30th! That's like two-ish weeks! And who knows? Maybe I'll give away some random ARC's too!

The List comes out April 1, 2012. Pick up a copy or twelve!

 Thanks y'all! Happy reading! And may the odds be ever in your favor.


the LO to my VE.

So I try to keep the blog books/writing related, but then I posted for my sisters birthday and now it's my anniversary! And I promise to mention writing if you keep reading!
On March 12th, 2011. I married my BFF. My partner. My loverbug, Ian.
By the time we got married we had already been living together for quite some time and had already purchased our first home. So this first year of marriage was AWESOME. No weird habits to grow accustom to or little annoyances to overcome. I mean, we still have weird habits and we can be totally annoying, but we're old pro's at this thing.

So without further ado, PICTURES: 

And this is where I talk about writing. Because, you see, Ian's not just married to me. He's married to my dream. And I to his. When you love someone you're married to every bit of them. Even when you're not really married because before we were ever married we were dedicated to every bit of each other and marriage didn't change a thing. Ian dreams my dreams just as big as I do, if not bigger. So when I was querying, Ian was querying. When I received rejection after rejection, so did Ian. And when things finally started happening. When the requests started piling up, when the offers started rolling in, Ian was happier for me than I was. Mainly because I was really overwhelmed and in utter shock. But also because he wants this for me, too.

So, Ian-buttface-boogerhead thank you for loving every bit of me. Including all the mean and nasty parts. And thank you for dreaming my dream just as much as I do. Olive Juice.


Is this real life?

Alright you guys, I've got really INCREDIBLE news and I have an awesome 58 page-long blog planned out to tell you all the gritty details, but for now here's the short version:
I have a literary agent!!!
Her name is Molly Jaffa and she's with Folio Lit  in NYC y'all. No joke.
In all I had seven offers, and Molly's was the first I received and we clicked-- like old friends. We had some fantastic conversation about my manuscript, writing, reading, and food.
So, since I'm doing a huge long post about this whole process sometime in the near future, I'll keep it short! But, before I go--
FIVE FACTS ABOUT MOLLY! (picture yanked from the Folio website)
1. She likes fried chicken... because, who doesn't?
2. She's originally from Texas. BONUS POINTS!
3. She owns red lipstick. ps- How adorable is she?
4. She's on Twitter and you MUST follow her!
5. She's my dream agent.

Y'all I am beyond excited for this next chapter in my life. Beyond, Beyond! Stay tuned because, there is so much more to come!