I’ve been working toward this day for a long time…I guess you could call it the culmination of the essential and exhausting “first phase” in the traditional publishing journey (“trad-pub” to save valuable speaking time). So, I’m happy about it.
(Skip this next part if you don’t care about the machinations of the publishing/getting-an-agent world.)
Three and a half years ago, I began sending out query letters for my first foray into novel-writing, a literary suspense called THE NARCISSIST’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND DEATH (or THE FISHERMAN). Over the following two years, I blasted off 90 query letters to various agents—I grouped these agents “A” (really want), “B” (kind of want), and “C” (would settle for, I guess).
Ten full or partial rejections later, I was more than a little discouraged. Then my manuscript was selected for mentoring by the Sarah Henning, a wonderful author, in the 2014 PitchWars manuscript contest on Twitter. Some very essential and insightful revisions (and four more full rejections) followed. But Sarah and some other talented writer friends—most notably Brianna Shrum, Summer Heacock, and Heather Webb—hinted that I was on the right track, and that I just needed to keep writing, keep plugging away.
So I did. After an initial concept discussion with my brother-in-law, Joe Biagi, and a good two years’ worth of hard work, I had written another novel—this time, a neo-noir sci-fi thriller called THE REAPER PROGRAM. Beta readers John Como, Austin Pierce (again), and Brianna Shrum (again) were beautifully and benevolently harsh at first—exactly what I needed—and this led to big revisions, after which I queried agents again. This time, however, I went with ONLY the “A” Group (really want).
I got a handful of full requests…one from a dream agency of mine, recommended by one of my betas and amazing author friend, Lauren Roedy Vaughn. That dream agency was Kimberley Cameron and Associates, a literary agency noted in the industry for nurturing debut authors and for generally treating its writers well.
Working with Mr. Lee at KC&A was a revelation. He and Ms. Cameron “got” my manuscript like no other agents had. In fact, no one else even came close. They saw what I was going for and helped me to push it even further. After another massive revision and much healthy communication, Mr. Lee offered representation for THE REAPER PROGRAM. I’d found the agent I was looking for: someone young and hungry who shares my tastes in literature, who goes for great story and then some, who appreciates that readers need a healthy dose of darkness in order to appreciate the scant light all the more.
To writers out there in the query trenches who may read this: I feel your pain. I was in there with you for three-plus years. I had my share of very close calls, but I am glad now that they did not pan out. So keep plugging away, and keep writing. There were times when I thought signing with the right agent would never happen. But it did, because I did not give up. I kept plugging. I kept writing.
And I know that this is only the first step, and that it only gets harder from here. But as I am not often wont to do, I will stop and enjoy this for a moment.
*Taps pencil* Tap, tap, tap. Enjoying…
Ok, so I’d also like to take this brief pause to indulge a minor Grammy© speech moment. I’d like to thank some people I didn’t mention above. They read for and supported my writing jones over the course of the last five years—and if I forget you here, I can always add you in later and pretend it never happened.
So thanks to: Travis McKeveny; Mike Natalie; my father Dan Malossi, mother Maureen Malossi, and sister Christine Malossi; Phil Boag; Caroline and Sean Dowling; Tom McKeveny, Tara Beaudine Moore; Matt Biagi and Rich D’Amaro; Nicole Biagi (Furrevig at the time); Linda Biagi; Paul Iasevoli; Lauren Spieller; Larry Portuese; Emily Kennedy; Ben Whittemore; Joe Inghilterra; Steven Franzke; Kathryn Oak; Anne Marie Sestak; Chrys Corson; Danielle Rannazzisi; Lou Ricci; Suzanne Vera; Dave Seerman; Rebecca Mowry; Alex Pierce; Mike O’Brien; Tom McMahon; Jeff Entin; Andy Ross; and countless others who helped me when I needed it most. Special thanks to Dennis Biagi, my incredible and indefatigable father-in-law, who passed away during this journey and is missed terribly.
Most importantly, thanks to my beautiful and supportive wife Kristina. And to my kids, Joseph and Liliana, who—when the stars poked in the firmament align just right—gift me a few moments to write in peace.
I love you all.