Friday, September 24, 2010

Crossing my fingers, I send in my romance proposals!

The time had come to send out my three contemporary romance proposals – each consisting of three chapters and a concluding outline – but I was anything but sure where to submit them. I knew I wanted an agent to represent me, but I hadn’t been entirely happy with the woman Nancy and I had chosen on our trip to New York. Once she had agreed to represent us, she’d seemed a bit distant and less than thrilled with our work. Yes, she’d dutifully submitted the manuscript to a number of publishing houses, but I never had the feeling that she was putting her all into the effort. Her attitude seemed to be, sure, I’ll give these new writers a try, but no skin off my teeth if their book doesn’t sell.

This was enough to cause me grave doubts about sending her my own book proposals. I was so unfamiliar with the romance genre that I felt I needed all the help and enthusiasm from an agent that I could get. I talked to Nancy about it, and went over the notes I’d taken about our meetings in New York. After much agonizing, and way too many cups of coffee, I finally decided to submit the proposals to the agent we’d visited the morning of our second day in the city. She’d been a bit reserved (which is one of the reasons Nancy and I had chosen the other agent), but she seemed very knowledgeable about the business. Perhaps I was naïve to think she’d turn out to be anymore successful than the first agent, but I comforted myself with the thought that she couldn’t be much worse.

Since little happens quickly in the publishing world, it was nearly three months before I heard back from the agent. By then I had convinced myself that she’d been so turned off by my first stumbling efforts to write a contemporary romance, that she’d simply tossed all three proposals into the waste basket. Evidently, I wasn’t even worth an, “I’m sorry, but upon further consideration your story does not fit in with the manuscripts our agency is currently handling.” Or, “I’m sorry to have misled you, but our agency is not presently seeking new authors.”

I’d done such a job on myself, that I almost passed out in surprise – and of course joy – when a letter finally arrived informing me that she would be delighted to represent my romance novels. Talk about beginner’s luck! I'd had no idea at the time I contacted her, but it turned out that this woman was one of the most successful romance agents in the business. Included with the letter was an agency contract, which I was instructed to sign. After that, she promised me that she would begin her representation by sending off the first of my three proposals to likely publishing houses.

(Next: Welcome to the world of romance!)


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