So Tuesday, a real live agent emailed me to ask to look at my full manuscript. Squee! I dropped everything and did a little happy dance and shrieked, and danced a bit more.
Wait, let me back up. As most of you know, I made the Semis for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award this year, which means they put an excerpt of my book out for the world to see. Well, apparently said agent likes to recruit from the “untapped talent” that is the pool of Semi-Finalists and read my excerpt. She was, apparently, “completely immersed” and wants to see the rest.
After jumping up and down a bit, I made myself step back and do some research. There are a lot of hucksters out there, and she contacted me, not me her. My first stop was the agency website, which wasn’t helpful, as it’s basically a letterhead. Then, onto Preditors & Editors, a phenomenal site run by two authors that looks out for the interests of writers. They do great research, and do their best to separate out the legitimate agents/editors/publishers from the ones taking advantage of people. Turns out the agent who contacted me is not only listed, but has confirmed sales to her name – always a good thing, since the whole point of an agent is to sell things for you. It also turns out that the agency she works for is “highly recommended” by P & E, something that doesn’t happen often. I was getting the warm fuzzies.
Then I started doing research on the internet, on her name plus “agent,” then her name and the agency name, etc. etc., as many permutations as I could think of. Not only was she listed in a whole bunch of queries databases and market guides (places for writers to get info on agents, and being on a lot of them means she’s serious and somewhat known), but she also popped up on Publisher’s Weekly as the agent who got an author a three-book deal. Better and better. As I continued to do research, I found out she’s relatively new, which doesn’t bother me as I know I’m new and she’s looking for people to grow with. She also has a sense of humor, as I found out when I found an interview she’d given. Even better.
So, armed with all of these fabulous facts and the almost-certain knowledge that she’s not only legit, she’s a big deal, I spent the rest of the day re-formatting the book. Making sure all the scene breaks are marked. That things are indented well. And that the header (and the title page) are clean and professional. I double-checked the standard manuscript format (I usually use Times New Roman font, the “other” standard one in addition to Courier New), wrote a professional but chatty email back, and hit “send.”
Then I settled down to the hard business of waiting.