So where was I? Oh, yeah, I was still waiting for a response from the three agencies I'd approached.
To be honest, I wasn't sure what to expect. I'd heard all the horror stories by published authors who claimed to have been rejected twenty, thirty, forty times before getting their chance, and I was well aware I might fare no better. So I decided the best thing was to get back to my day job and try not to think about it too much. Easier said than done, of course, but the world keeps on turning, as they say.
But as it turned out I didn't have too long to wait. The first response came through the post about a fortnight later, and I pretty much knew what it contained before I even opened it. It was just your standard rejection letter. Nothing particularly noteworthy or personal about it. They just weren't interested in taking me on and wished me luck for the future. I think my initial response was 'Well, at least they responded.' But I also took major consolation from the fact that the rejection wasn't coming from my first choice agency. There was still a chance.
The next response came by email. And this time it was from my first choice: Camilla Wray at Darley Anderson. And guess what? Camilla really liked what she'd read so far and wanted me to send her the rest of the manuscript.
I can't honestly remember, but I think it's a safe bet I was walking on air for the rest of the day. Maybe the next, as well. Naturally, I sent the rest of the manuscript out to Camilla immediately in the hope that she'd like the rest of the book as much as she'd liked the samples.
I see no point in drawing out the suspense here, especially as I've named both the agency and the particular agent in question. Camilla did like THE WRONG MAN (although it had a different title then), but she also made it clear the manuscript needed a lot more work before she could make a decision about whether to represent me or not. Which, since a literary agent can only take on a couple of new clients a year at most, I felt was totally understandable.
Camilla then invited me up to the London offices where we had a coffee and got to know each other, while at the same time hashing out what needed to be done to the book. Plot holes needed to be filled and characters had to be strengthened. Pacing needed to adjusted, and exposition reduced. Basically, everything needed to be reworked. Fortunately, though, it was clear we thought along the same wavelengths, and almost every suggestion Camilla made I agreed with. The satisfactory meeting ended with me promising to come back with a third draft, after which Camilla would make a decision on whether to take things further.
Cut to three or four months later. I'd already made the required changes to the manuscript and had emailed the whole thing over to Camilla. A few weeks later, she contacted me again and said she LOVED the new draft and that she'd like to officially represent me!
Whoa. How much better can life get? That was a day I don't think I'll ever forget. In fact, I was on cloud nine for a whole week after hearing that. I actually had a literary agency representing my work! And not just any agency, but the one I'd earmarked from day one. Just goes to show - dreams can sometimes come true.
Now all we needed to do was find a publisher.
But that's for another time, I think. Next up, I'll talk about my trip to Arizona to research my latest novel, BACKTRACK...