writer, listener

The Call

on January 27, 2012

Happy Agent Day card from my daughter. Not pictured: roses and dinner at Salute from my husband

Yesterday was not a bad day, mostly because I got THE CALL from Linda Epstein at The Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency.

Exclamation points are so out right now, but I don’t care. This requires a lot of them. Like this many!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! At least.

If you’re a non-writer type, getting “the call” means somebody at a fancy literary agency in New York doesn’t think you suck and they want to be your agent. It doesn’t mean you don’t suck, of course, but it’s always good to have an agent who believes in your writing enough to take you on as a client.

The grueling process goes something like this: Agents get thousands of queries from hopeful writers every year. From those, they ask to see a few manuscripts. And from those manuscripts, they decide to offer representation to a few writers. Literally, just a few.

It’s a major milestone for writers seeking traditional publication. It’s something we dream about, because it’s pretty impossible to sell a book to a publishing house without an agent on your side. Major publishers rarely deal with unagented authors–especially unknown newbies like me.

In the wake of this process are hundreds of thousands of writers getting our neurotic little writer hearts broken over and over by rejection. I’ve had my share. Mostly because, like a lot of writers, I hoped I was the exception–that I could write a first draft and send it off and then everybody would definitely fall in love with it and fight over it.

Uh, they didn’t. I am not the exception. I am not special. Even though my mom promised FOR SURE that I was.

I’ve eaten a lot of humble pie over the last few years (let’s call it key lime humble pie), minus having to actually apologize to anyone, because agents don’t want that–they just want you to go away and learn something. And I’ve learned that I have to keep working really hard if I want to compete for a book deal with some of these crazy talented writers.

Maybe I’ll get my ass handed to me, but right now I’m just so, so happy to have entered what’s known as the second circle of hell. Where my agent (!!!!!) helps me get my manuscript super-duper submission-ready and then she sends it off for the next level of terror and waiting and crying and chewing my nails ’til my fingers are bloody nubs. Oh my God, that sounds like so much fun. Why everybody doesn’t want to be a writer, I’ll never understand.

Check out The Jennifer DeChiara Lit agency at www.JDLit.com so you can see that I’m agency-mates with those Elf on the Shelf people. My agent (!!!!!), Linda Epstein, also blogs at www.lindapepstein.wordpress.com.

26 responses to “The Call

  1. Kelly says:


  2. hdkw says:

    …as if there was ever any doubt – Congrats are in order and remember shared excitement is “x2” – Happy for you.

  3. Alisha says:

    Listen to your mom – you are special 🙂
    No one deserves success more.

  4. Emily says:

    You summed it up so well, Rhonda! It’s the greatest feeling when years of hard work and struggle start to pay off. Good luck with your revisions (Linda is the shizzle in that area, btw) and every other step along the way to a book deal!

  5. Kathleen Zavala says:

    Rhonda I am so happy for you. No surprise though you have a gift,one of many.But this one is what you have worked for.Awsome as always.

  6. Bonnie Berta says:

    Fingers, toes, and eyes crossed for you, Rhonda!! You are where I sometimes wish I could be 😉
    “Cousin Bonnie”

  7. Darlene says:

    How exciting!!!!!!!!! Congratulations – you are extremely talented and it’s nice to see that the literary world sees that too!!!!! Good luck – you’re a rock star!!!

  8. Just so you know, Rhonda, I cried a little too…

  9. Zoë says:

    Congratulations! I follow Linda’s blog and have seen you comment there and I am so happy that this part of your dream came true. Can’t wait to check out your book someday soon!

    • Thanks, Zoe! I’ve seen you there, too.
      What a ride, so far. I’m coming back down to Earth and getting nervous (and excited) about getting my ms into submission shape.
      See you around, I’m sure!

  10. Eight billion congratulations to both of you!

  11. Rick Boettger says:

    Huzzah! Thanks for spreading the good cheer–the opposite of the flu! So few months after the demise of your previous job. Any chance that this success happened (in pat) indeed because your focus both could and had to go fully into the book? Some ot the best things in my life have happened because outside forces pushed me onto my own, and better path.

    Can’t wait to see how the adventure continues, Rhonda!

  12. Lisa says:

    Congrats! Lori told me you are hoping to get a book published… and selfishly I hope you do because I love your writing and would love to read it. Ok, so here’s this… someone suggested I write a book about a certain topic… it’s been in my head to do that for 20 years… and I was all. Ok. I’m working on that. I’m not sure yet where it is leading. But maybe, I might possibly someday want to see if anyone would want to publish it. I don’t care if I make not a penny off of it. I just want to do it. Maybe. Not sure yet. I’ve never had anything published and have no clue how to go about it… if I get to that point, can I pick your brain? I already knew, before reading your post, that getting something published is probably about as easy as becoming the next Richard Gere. And I’m not even a man 😉

    • Thanks, Lisa!

      Well, you’re being realistic in not caring about the money, because there’s just not much of it in writing. I’m no expert–not by a long shot. I haven’t sold a book yet, either! But yeah, I’d be happy to share what I know. My agent (!!!!) Linda’s blog is a great place to gain insight into a literary agent’s perspective on the road to publication (www.lindapepstein.wordpress.com – there’s a link in this post if it comes through funny in the comments). There are lots and lots of agents, writers, and editors who blog about the process and who have killer archives of helpful information. QueryTracker.net is helpful, once you have a finished product. AbsoluteWrite.com is great, too (before, during, and after). There’s just a ton of info available now. Google is your friend, for the most part. But there’s nothing you should have to pay for at this point (unless you want to subscribe to something like publishersmarketplace.com to track book deals, reviews, agents, editors, and industry news).

  13. amymarie says:

    Wow! Congratulations! I am so excited for you! This is SUCH a big deal!

  14. Rhonda, massive congratulations. It’s such a big step, a testament to hard work and Talent. I love your writing, and hope that you have eben more to celebrate over the next few months.

    Great card from your daughter, too!

    Ans we’re agency, if not agent, siblings!!!

  15. I am a little behind on the news… but congrats!!! You completely & totally deserve this… so happy your family celebrated with you as well. I raise my beer-glass high to you, Rhonda! Cheers!!

  16. A.B. says:

    Nice, Saunders. Can I have your autograph now, so’s I can say I knew ya’ when? Congrats!

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