Big news for my manuscript

I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve signed with the Emma Sweeney Agency for what will be my debut novel. It’s kind of the most exciting thing that’s ever happened in my career, to be honest — although it sounds as though I’ll be revising the manuscript for a while!

So how did it come about? In one sense, it all happened very quickly! I started querying on July 24 and signed with Emma on August 6. Of course, nothing is ever that easy. This book has had a long journey.

It began as a science fiction book, the story of an escapee from an android factory named Jane who slowly began to realize that she was, for all intents and purposes, human. It was set in a bizarre future where androids had become commonplace to the point that a branding architecture had begun to emerge, and Jane was intended to be a luxury product. But the human who created her suffered an attack of remorse and helped her organize a jailbreak just before she was scheduled for her big product launch.

I queried exactly forty-four agents with that manuscript. I got some lovely rejections — a weird concept to people who aren’t writers. A lovely rejection is one that makes you feel like maybe, just maybe, you shouldn’t give up just yet. At some point I began to realize I was hearing some of the same things from people. A lot of agents praised the basic concept — that Jane was printed from a 3D printer, using living cells — and liked the main character and her voice. But they pointed out implausibilities in the plot and the weakness of other characters (particularly the villain).

So I revised, turning the book from science fiction into a thriller so I could query agents who hadn’t already seen it. I tried writing it in first person, present tense, and then switched to third person omniscient with multiple points of view. In the end, I don’t think a single sentence from the original manuscript survived intact! A literary agent friend (who repped mostly non-fiction) even offered to pass the new manuscript on to her office-mate when it was ready, which helped keep me motivated.

But then life threw me an enormous curve. My daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. I put the manuscript in a drawer, as the saying goes, and took care of getting my daughter stabilized. I didn’t look at the book again for almost two years.

By the time I pulled it out, my agent friend was in a career transition and it wasn’t the best time to hand my manuscript to her. That made me feel a little doom and gloomy, but I went back to querying just the same way I had before, with a long list of agents. I got some requests for chapters right away, but I was settling in for a long process. I almost had a heart attack when Emma Sweeney emailed saying she loved the book and wanted to represent me. I’d been querying for all of two and half weeks.

So we’ll see where it goes from here. I have a lot of work to do — but it’s very exciting to be working with Emma and bringing the themes of the story into focus in a new way.