Monday, July 11, 2011

The Big, Long Story of How I Got Poelled

**I'm sorry the formatting is all wonky on this one -- NO IDEA!**

I gave you the short version the other day, but here's the long version of how I recently signed with Barbara Poelle of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency (for those of you who asked for italthough, you may regret it!!):  

This dates back to almost two years ago, at the South Carolina Writers’ Workshop in ’09.
One morning, I had a crit session with agent of awesome Holly Root of Waxman Literary Agency and a pitch session with another fabulous agent. I was nervous because these were going to be my first one-on-ones with agents—ever. And, as anyone who has ever pitched knows, it’s frakking scary!
A friend of mine and I sat down at this one table at breakfastand Barbara Poelle and Holly Root were sitting at it. Great choice, Nick!  I wanted to kill himmmmm.

Barbara: Where the eff did you get that dress? It’s fantastic! Is that a Diana von Furstenberg?
Me: Um, no? It was $25 from Target.
Barbara: WHAT? I will buy that dress off you right now. Seriously. I’ll give you, like, $200.
Me: Well, I kind of need it because I’m about to have a critique with Holly (points to Holly Root) . . . but, um, thanks?

During that breakfast, Holly and Barbara were nothing short of awesome, and Barbara even asked someone else who wrote YA at the table for his full. She said she doesn’t accept queries for YA, but she takes it on referrals and really liked his idea. I was too nervous about my crit & pitch session to dwell on that—but, in the end, I never queried Barbara with my first MS because of that conversation. She only takes YA on referral, and I had no referral. Why try?

For some reason, with this MS, I got a little more . . . ballsy. I felt really good about it—which scared the crap outta me—and I was getting a decent amount of requests all at once, it seemed. So, just for the heck of it, I queried Barbara—and actually mentioned THE DRESS in my opener, since that would be the only possible way she’d remember me—but whyyyy would she remember that? I also said I knew she didn't rep YA without a referral, but . . . (all things you're not supposed to do, I know).

I actually forwarded the query to a few of my friends right after I sent it and was all, LOOK AT HOW LOOPY I AM—LOOK WHAT I JUST SENT.
Well, Barbara did remember—she laughed (hahahaha in the e-mail) and asked for the full. Right away.
Now, the publishing industry seemed to slow wayyyy down around the end of March. There was the Bologna Fair and tons of book fests and conferences and workshops, and agents seemed to be busy, busy, busy with all of that. I didn’t get a ton more requests—and I hardly got any rejections—so I just waited. And waited. And I did a revision. And I did another thing you’re probably not supposed to do; I sent the revision to the agents who had my full (Barbara among them).
I still heard just about nothing—only three of the agents to whom I’d sent the revision even acknowledged they’d received it—so I waited some more. And immersed myself in other projects I have going on.

I went back and forth: 
Do I revise again? 
Do I write the shiny new manuscript I loosely plotted? 
In the end, with the help of some of my insanely brilliant and talented CPs, I decided to, in fact, revise again.
Which brings me to two weeks ago . . .
I was getting ready to go to RWA, scrambling to complete a revision; however, as hard as I worked, the Sunday before the conference, I resigned myself to the fact that I wasn't going to be able to complete it by Tuesday (when I was leaving). I convinced myself that this was OK. (Well, I didn't really convince myself of that, but there was nothing I could do about it. It was going to have to be OK. So I just drank more and all was well.)

Sunday night, just as I was at the brink of insanity over all the laundry and packing and stuff I had to do before the trip, I got an e-mail from Barbara Poelle that I was SURE was going to be a rejection.  She had e-mailed about 10 days earlier (and I thought *that* was going to be a rejection too) to say that my MS was making its way up the queue. 
My immediate thoughts:  
Ohhhhh, she would be so awesome to have as an agent! 
I really need to get this revision done so I can get it to her 
before she inevitably rejects meeee! 

But seriously. I have NEVER had an agent check in with me like that to remind me they were alive, so I thought it was muy cool of her—and that lit a fire under me. I wanted to finish the revision before she could reject me . . . 
. . . which was why, when I saw the e-mail come in, I was convinced it was a big fat R.
BUT! She wanted to talk to me on the phone. The PHONE! And you know what that means!*
*Actually, I didn't. Because I was convinced it meant she wanted to reject me over the phone. My amazing wonderful FANTASTIC friends didn't think so, but I did. Or, let me say it another way—I didn’t necessarily believe she wanted to reject me over the phone . . . but I didn’t want to allow myself to believe she was calling to offer me representation because, if she wasn’t, that would just be chain-smoke-yourself-into-oblivion depressing.

However, she offered in the first twenty seconds—after she said:  
 “So, you’re packing for RWA—are you packing my dress?!”

The rest wasn’t exactly history, though. I still had my full out with five other agents—and one OMG-fantastic one ALSO offered! Only Cambria Dillon and Karen Hooper can attest to how torn up I was over this because they were the ones who stayed up with me, waiting to talk to Agent #2, even though they were dead tired. They were the ones who listened to me weigh my options and stress. 

Karen was the one texting me from the other side of the room at 5:30 in the morning when everyone else was asleep. 
Cambria was the one spooning me . . . er.

In the end, I chose Barbara because she felt the most right to me. I feel like I can have the kind of author-agent relationship with her I’ve always dreamed of. Corny as that sounds, it’s true.
My agent (!!!) Barbara Poelle & me!

And I couldn’t be happier with my decision. :D

Also?  I have some of the BEST writer friends ever.  Like seriously. You don't even know how verklempt  I am right now as I type this. Thank you to EVERYONE  who was there for me to celebrate, to hypothesize,  and to just plain hold my hand.
Here are some pics of everything as it went down!
Oh, hai! I'm scared to death to go to this agency party and sign!!!!!
Karen really took on the "mom" role, making me stop to take pics every two feet. *love* And, yes -- this is THE DRESS. :)
Irene Goodman (R) and Barbara Poelle (C) greeting me with a SEE MY AGENT button!
Me, pretending to read the contract (sooo nervous!) while Barbara tells me what I'm pretending to read.
That's over -- who's read to celebrate??
Thank you girls so much for being there with me!!!!!! <3 <3
Also ALSO? 

How spoiled am I that I got to not only 
meet my agent IN PERSON 
 but also SIGN in person??  So spoiled, 
I cannot even tell you.  

I am still beyond floored that this all happened -- 
and if it weren't for the photo documentation, 
I am not sure I'd even believe it myself.


  1. Ricki,
    I'm so proud of you for all your hard work. Persistence is a major key in signing with an agent, and you surely (adverb!) did that. Continue to keep us all posted on your way to publishing your debut. We're all rooting for you.

  2. I love it! That was a pleasure to read :)

  3. Dude, I am BEYOND happy for you!!!!

  4. Congratulations! I had a huge smile while I read this! So happy for you!

  5. Thanks for the story, Ricki! I was curious as to how it all went down. So very proud of you and looking forward to walking into Barnes and Noble and telling my friends as I point at your book, "I KNOW that girl!" Very exciting! Best of luck to you in the future!

  6. You are SO lucky, and I'm SO happy for you! Just from the way you describe your interactions with Barbara from day one, I can tell you have great chemistry. That's so important when choosing an agent. It may be a business decision but you should still be able to trust them like you would a friend. Best of luck to you!

  7. I am so pleased for you and for your future readers. I love your writing and have since we first met. You inspire me to work harder. Congratulations again.

  8. You know my feelings on all this: GIDDY for you. :)

    May the bidding wars commence!

    Lola aka Lolz

  9. You already know how much I love this story, and how happy I am for you :) But again--CONGRATULATIONS <3

  10. I was in the Agent / editor discussion, and heard her mention that she just signed with you, I WAS GIDDY for you!! SO HAPPY!!! huge congrats! HUGE!

  11. BWAHHAHAHAH! I cracked up about the texting at 5:30am thing. Man, that was funny. And one morning YOU were spooning Cambria, so, er...

    Oh, such a good trip. Those memories will last FOREVER!

    BIG, ECSTATIC, MUSHY CONGRATS AGAIN. Barbara is awesomesauce and you two are going to make an unstoppable team. Yay!!!

    *whispers* But really? You had to use the pic of us where I don't look happy for you?
    I WAS HAPPY FOR HER, PEOPLE! I swear I was, but I was getting ready to say something when that photo was taken. *waaaah*

    But seriously, love you. I'm so happy and honored that I was there. <3

  12. What an awesome story. I love how things come full circle sometimes. I also think the effing dress part of the story is Classic!

  13. Congratulations, Ricki!

    I figure I'll just keep saying it wherever I see you...

  14. Congrats! That's such awesome news.

  15. OH MY GOSH, you guys -- thank you soooo much for the congrats!!

    @J.M. -- You're so sweet! I'll definitely be posting about the next steps along the way!

    @Alexandra -- Glad you liked! *hugs*

    @Jodi -- Can't wait to celebrate with ya!

    @Shawntelle -- Aww, thanks! Didn't bump into you at RWA this year = BUMMER!!

    @Gina -- Here's hoping!!! :)

    @Natalia -- Yes, our chemistry is fabsies! So excited to be working with her!

    @Ravensworth -- You are too sweet! :D

    @Lola -- It's TOTALLY 5x5!!!!! (x5x5x5!) :)

    @Sara -- Thanks, girl! Can't wait to see ya & celebrate!

    @December -- You were AT that session???? OMG! I was DYING!! I'm sorry I missed you, though!!

    @Karen -- That pic of you is adorbs -- get over it!!! Yes, Cam & I are quite the spooners. And honeymooners. Glad you didn't feel like a third wheel! ;)

    @Jessie -- I know! I love that! Now I have to keep it forever! LOL

    @Carol -- Thanks!! Hehehehe I know, right??

    @Derek -- Thanks again, sir! And I am always up for some nachos -- who isn't??

    @Natalie -- Thanks, dude!! :D

  16. OMG, how awesome that you got to meet and sign in person! Congrats, Ricki!

  17. omg - these pictures are amazing! LOVE IT!!!!

    Mucho congrats!!!

  18. Thanks so much, Kristine! I know! And I get to meet YOUR agent next month at PNWA! Cambria is already mad!!

    Thanks, A! :D:D:D

  19. OMG Ricki, this story is so GREAT and inspirational. One day I hope to tell a similar one. KUDOS for you and that you have an agent, would you still be able to be a consultant on my book? I was about to send the partial your way in a couple of weeks, but now that you're big timing. ;-) LOL CONGRATS AGAIN, you deserve it and can't wait to see what awesome things come your way.


  20. Congrats, Ricki!!! Would have said something sooner, but apparently Google Reader was eating your blog posts and I just now saw the news in the Write-Brained newsletter. Woo hoo!

  21. I told you the first time we met that you were going places. I liked your dresses as well but my wife wouldn't let me comment on them.
    My good news-I signed with Melissa Allison-Lee of Sullivan Maxx Literary Agency last week. So tell everyone that age doesn't matter. You can never be too young or in my case, never too old.
    I've followed your career closely and I'm very happy for you. John House

  22. OMG OMG OMG! I am doing a crazy *happy dance* for you, Ricki! This is so so so fantastic! Sending you big *hugs* and ginormous KUDOS. You deserve this, chica! :)

  23. Yay Ricki! This is fabulous news, congratulations! And signing in person, that so totally rocks! Yay you!

  24. @Kandie-- Thanks so much!
    In terms of doing a possible crit for you, I am still game; however, I don't think I could do it any time in the immediate future. The earliest would probably be in the fall? I am completing revisions before we go out on submission and then I have the WB workshop I'm coordinating in Sept -- plus three conferences (two of which are speaking gigs), so my plate is a little full. If you're looking to swap with someone, perhaps try to hit someone up on the WB? I'm sure you could find a great crit partner there -- there are lots of peeps to choose from!
    Thanks again for your sweet note! :D

    @Jennifer-- GR was eating my posts? *oh noes!* Networked Blogs isn't working for me either. UGH! But thanks! Glad you got the WB newsletter! :D

    @John-- That is FANTASTIC news! Soooo happy for you!!! *toasts* I can't wait to hear all about it! LOL about the dresses! ;)

    @Cathy-- Thanks dude! :D

    @Bridgid-- Thank you so much! Can't wait to see that happy dance in person in September!!!

    @Dorothy-- Thanks so much! I know -- I am soooo spoiled! :D

  25. Wow, whatta tale of true love, publishing-style! I know this is the start of something BIG. Mazeltov, Ricki.

  26. Congratulations Ricki! What a great story!

  27. This is so awesome. What a great story. And I'm glad you showed us THE dress, because you look AMAZING!

  28. Thanks so much, Matthew!!!! And I'm glad you like the dress! :)

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  30. You are spoiled! Good luck with the submission process.

  31. Hi Ricki,

    My name's Kate, and I just barely stumbled across your blog. Congratulations on signing! I'm an 18-year-old newly-agented writer (I signed with Edward Necarsulmer IV of McIntosh and Otis) so I'm also about to go on submission. I've been reading through your blog and I love what I've seen so far!

    Anyways, looking forward to more of your posts! Fingers crossed for both of us on submission :).

  32. Hi Kate -- thanks for the message! And congrats on signing with Edward! Wow -- 18? I'm very impressed (and jealous!).

    Glad you like the blog -- I need to get back into the swing of blogging. I was in revisions until this weekend, so that stole my focus, but I should be back again soon. :)

    Definitely keep me posted on your subs! I will be going out soon too... *dies*

  33. Love it! Congratulations, Ricki.

    I love the Write-Brain Network. Great site!