"How I Got My Agent" is a recurring feature on the GLA blog. Some tales are of long roads and many setbacks, while others are of good luck and quick signings. To see the previous installments of this column, click here. If you have a literary agent and would be interested in writing a short guest column for this GLA blog, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll talk specifics.
Laura is excited to give away a free book to one random commenter. Comment within one week; winners must live in Canada/US48 to receive the print book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you've won before. (Update: Margie won.)
Laura Spinella's debut novel is Beautiful Disaster
(Jan 2011). The Long Island native is a graduate of
the University of Georgia, and now currently writes
from Massachusetts, where she lives with her family.
Visit her website for upcoming book signing events.
You can also read her blog where you'll find
an excerpt from her novel.
A JOB VS. A CALLING
Hi, my name is Laura, and I’m a writer. Even with a debut novel at hand, uttering those words aloud smacks of an AA meeting. Interestingly enough, I have a degree in journalism. I’ve written for newspapers and magazines for years. But those were jobs. Novelist is a calling. And while I was working my way to here, I’d be more apt to describe myself as somebody’s mother, writer following like the caboose on a train. It’s cute, it’s red, it’s irrelevant to the train’s function.
We were in Las Vegas about six years ago. I’d just completed my second novel, and before leaving received a request from a big time publisher, asking to read the full manuscript. Bursting on the inside, I still couldn’t manage an audible outward conversation. When the woman with whom we were dining—a business associate of my husband who I did not know—asked what I did for a living, I shoved a bite of salad into my mouth and mumbled, “I’m a writer.” In turn, she crinkled her brow, smiled, and asked, “What kind of horses do you ride?” I don’t know the difference between an Arabian and a pack mule, but I managed to carry on the rest of conversation as if I were Annie Oakley.
INVIGORATED BY A POSITIVE REJECTION
Not too many weeks later, I received what’s known as a positive rejection letter from the big time publisher. Really, it was exactly what I needed. I wasn’t ready for publication. After a small but moving pity party, I went back to work, back to practicing on paper, as well as into the mirror, the profession I claimed. I wrote two more books, and read a bunch more. I got better; I learned.
I went to writers’ conferences. I met people who know more than I ever will about the written word. I gathered a shoebox full of rejections, some form letters, some bearing the proverbial dangling carrot: “We really enjoyed this, but are going to pass…” I lived off them. And I’ll be honest, many encouraged me, but some ticked me off so much I used them as fuel for my fire.
AN AGENT'S REVISIONS LEAD TO AN OFFER
I got an e-mail from Susan Ginsburg, an agent at Writers House. She was intrigued by the draft, but
ultimately rejected it. Because I asked, Susan very graciously
suggested possible revisions. I resubmitted about a year later, and off
we went with almost an immediate offer from Berkley.
Concerning Writers House, I have to say it's an awe-inspiring place that will push you to strive for the next level. I am a writer—wait, strike that. I am a published author. There, that almost sounded fluid. I understand that the guarantee of success is nil, and what I’ve been awarded is an at bat in the literary big leagues. But I will say this about my book: Beautiful Disaster is a tale about what happens when love is greater than honor or friendship or the passing of time. I hope you enjoy it.
Laura is excited to give away a free book to one random commenter. Comment within one week; winners must live in Canada/US48 to receive the print book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you've won before.(Update: Margie won.)