Friday, June 27, 2014

It Only Takes One Yes

Something wonderful happened this week: After more than three years of editing and revising my mystery manuscript, A Matter of Taste, after sending out over a hundred query letters to potential agents, I have now entered into a representation agreement with a literary agent: Erin Niumata of Folio Literary Management, in New York City.

I am beyond thrilled. Not just to have acquired representation, but because I think Erin is going to be terrific. She seems to really get me, and my book—the voice and style, the characters, the themes. And, from the few comments she’s already provided, I can tell her editorial skills are going to be invaluable (she spent many years as an editor for various major publishing houses before becoming an agent).

Her call came early last week, and I was so flustered that I’m sure I sounded like a complete moron—or perhaps simply like a newbie author thrilled to finally get 
The Phone Call.

how I feel right about now
(okay, so this was taken when
the SF Giants won the pennant in 2010)
[photo: Laura Karst]

I wanted to say YES! right then and there, but I had several other “fulls” (the complete manuscript) currently out to other agents. Politeness and protocol therefore required that I give them a heads up, and let them have several days to consider whether they too might want to make an offer of representation.

One other agent did make such an offer, and thus I found myself in the truly bizarre position of being wooed by two different literary agents.

You see, just last November I’d considered abandoning my agent search. After eighty-odd rejections, I’d begun to worry that maybe the book just wasn’t good enough for publication. Rather than pack it all in, however, I decided to hire a developmental editor to take a look at the manuscript—someone who could not only help improve it, but who could also be objective, and let me know if it was worth continuing to send out. I chose an editor who’d been highly recommended by some Sisters in Crime mystery writers, as well as by an agent I’d met last summer at a writers conference (the very same agent, in a strange twist, who ended up being the second one to offer me representation).

The developmental editor, Kristen Weber, loved my book, but had a variety of ideas for making it better—fleshing out characters, adding scenes and description, deleting text that took the reader too far afield from the mystery.

Once I’d revised the m.s., I began my agent search anew. Kristen continued to assist me, not only by giving feedback regarding potential agents, but—and perhaps this was even more important to me—by providing moral support when the rejections began to pour in once again. “You can get hundreds of rejections,” she would counsel me when I’d start to sink back into depression. “And many writers do. But remember: It only takes one yes. You just have to be patient.”

Turns out she was right. And when that yes finally came, all those rejections became but a distant memory.

So, to all my fellow writers out there going through the gut-wrenching Agent Query Dance: Take heart. If if can happen to me, it can happen to you.


  1. I am SO proud of my big sister! Love you!!!

  2. Although I had already heard this news "presigning", I want to say again that I am really thrilled for you, Leslie. Your hard work and persistence has really paid off.

  3. Leslie, this is fantastic news! Go Big Island! :-)

  4. Congratulations! I'm getting to be around this same number. :-) so this entry really spoke to me. Also, congratulations!!