15 September 2016

I have an agent!

Wow, it's been THREE YEARS since I last wrote on this blog. I usually do most of my social posting on Tumblr these days, but I thought posting this news on the Blog would be more appropriate since this was the medium I started posting about my writing (EIGHT years ago!).

So, yes. I have news.

I am now represented by Penny Moore of Empire Literary!

It's been a week since I received the offer but I am honestly still in a daze. How did it happen? Well...

My story is pretty atypical. For one, I started querying when I was in eighth grade as part of a research project in English class. The assignment was for us to research a topic of our choice for fifteen hours and present our findings to the rest of class at the end of the school year. And since by then, I had completed and finished revising my first novel (which I did after receiving comments from my then beta-readers--the few friends from school who knew of my "writing obsession"), I chose to research the publishing industry and query my manuscript as part of the process.

"It'll be easy!" thought Middle School Me. "People get published all the time!"

2008 me had no idea what I was in for. By freshman year of high school, I'd received countless rejections (some of which were actually pretty encouraging...I'd mentioned my age in my queries --which isn't always recommended--and was lucky enough to receive words of encouragement from the super-nice agents I submitted to) and was working on a new manuscript. After that, I fell into sort of a pattern. Try to get as much writing done as possible while still doing well in school, get feedback from critique partners (I got proper ones around 2011) and beta readers (I'm fortunate to have friends that read my writing and supported me--STILL support me--along the way), revise rewrite revise, and finally unleash my current project into the query trenches. This continued for the next eight years.

It was definitely a learning process. I'm mostly self-taught in terms of writing (and English in general) so every book I wrote was another form of practice. Whether it be plot or voice or pacing or world building, I like to think that I learned a new lesson with each trunked manuscript. Don't get me wrong...I poured my HEART into every single novel I wrote. I always hoped that every novel would be the One. And honestly when I was querying my current novel, THE ROCKET BABY DOLLS, I was too scared and worn out to hope. Sure, I had a feeling this one was different than the others. And yes, I desperately hoped this one would be the One as well, but after eight years of writing/querying six completed manuscripts, drafting who-knows-how-many query letters, and getting I-don't-even-want-to-think-how-many rejection letters, I was burned out. Almost mechanically, I sent out queries for RBD this summer, not expecting much.

And then the requests came in. Out of 47 queries (the first one of which I sent in June), I received 6 full requests and 1 partial request. This was the best that one of my novels has ever done, so I was ecstatic. But also really, really scared. Because what if this one wasn't the One, either? What if, after all this initial love, it'd still turn out to be nothing?

So when Penny asked to chat on Tuesday, September 6th, 2016, I wasn't sure if that email was real. I remember coming back from a morning of park-hopping while playing PokemonGO, all sweaty and ready to take a shower, when I checked my email.

I yelled out, "WHAT?!" because that was the only reaction I could muster at that point, and went to take a shower so I could think more clearly. I finished and came back out. Rechecked my phone. The email was still there. IT WAS REAL. I started panicking to hilarious results. I freaked out at my writer friends through Twitter DM. They freaked out. I freaked out at my boyfriend, who'd always been my first reader as I was drafting my current MS and then read the entire thing AGAIN (after I revised) on one plane ride to Shanghai over the summer. He was pretty amused:

Little did I know that apparently he was freaking out
as much as I was...he just didn't want to show it. Lol, men.
The next 48 hours was a panicked mix of researching questions for the Call (even though I wasn't sure if this was THE Call, I wanted to be ready), going to work, and failing to sleep.

When the morning finally came, I was more or less ready but still a nervous wreck.

Then, Penny called. At first, my fear/anxiety only escalated as she suggested some major changes in my manuscript. "Oh," I thought. "Darn, this must just be a Revise and Resubmit." 

We finished discussing her suggestions. There was a long pause. Although I agreed with her suggestions, my heart felt like it was being squeezed to a pulp since I was pretty sure this wasn't THE Call. My brain was trying to figure out a non-awkward way to end our phone call (thank her for the comments and wish her a nice day, maybe?) when my mouth blurted out, "Wait, so, sorry. I'm confused as to what this is. Is this a Revise and Resubmit? Or are you offering representation?"

After a pause, she clarified. She was OFFERING REPRESENTATION under the condition that I revise/rewrite. I wanted to scream:

Thankfully, I didn't (out loud, anyway). Instead, since I tend to babble when I'm anxious, I launched us into a pretty crazy 48 minutes of talking about the most random things, from our respective PokemonGo adventures to my future project ideas to the actual things we were supposed to talk about (submission/editorial strategies/agency policy, etc). It was pretty awesome. I remember remarking to Penny that I never thought the Call could be this fun. And when I recounted our conversation to my boyfriend later, he remarked, "Wow, you sound like you want to marry her."

And it was true in the sense that it felt like after long years of waiting and trying, I'd finally met the One (agent). In the eight years that I queried and sent my novels to agents, I NEVER thought that I would meet an agent that I was this compatible with. When I was serious and had questions about the industry and her agency, Penny had all the right answers (or at least, the answers I was hoping for.) When I needed a break to talk about other, sillier things like a guy trying to use PokemonGo as part of a pick-up line in Japantown, Penny not only laughed with me but also made me laugh with her own stories.

Not only that but she was extremely passionate about not just my current MS but my future ones. She was actually so intensely passionate that I accidentally laughed in response...not because I was laughing at her (although I may have given that impression...sorry, Penny >_>) but because it was just so unreal to find someone that was so in love with my writing. After eight years of hearing agents tell me that we "weren't a good fit," it felt unbelievable. It was literally a dream come true.

So I'm happy that this morning, I officially accepted her offer of representation. I'm so excited to be working with her and to see where this journey will take me next. I've been querying for almost a third of my life, lol...so you can definitely say I'm thrilled to finally move on to the next step.

I want to wrap things up by thanking everyone that has been part of my long journey. Thank you to all my friends over the years (you know who you are) that not only didn't run away from "that weird, loud girl that writes books" but also fully supported my writing by making time out of your busy schedules to read/offer feedback/sanity checks/etc. Thank you for believing in me when I didn't believe myself.

Thank you also to the so many wonderful people I've met in the Twitterverse. Mainly, the YA Misfits  (esp Chessie, Dahlia, and Marieke) for reading and giving the most amazing notes on my current and/or past projects. (And just being really good + supportive friends, in general). I still remember how things were when we first started the group and now look at us! We've all really come a long way.

I really could have not done this without all of you. Thank you <3


  1. This is so awesome! I'm so happy for you!!!

  2. Omg Lyla!!! CONGRATS!!!!! So happy to see that you're now represented!!!!! Penny is awesome :D :D :D



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