December 4, 2009

Where was I?

Filed under: Backstory — jenny @ 10:24 am

A long, long time ago…

…I was telling the as yet unfinished story of my journey to publication.

I’d broken my foot, fallen to my knees, and gotten the call from the woman who turned out to be my first agent.

But here’s a rather exciting part I haven’t told.

My husband and I (childless at that point–yes, this HAS taken a while) went to stay with my parents about a half hour away. Their house was easier to negotiate with my crutches.

I had just signed up for an email account. (OK, OK, I already said it’s been a long time). I only did that because one of the agents I had queried and been communicating with by snail mail asked if I had one.

So I was no way in the habit of checking whether I had emails or anything like that. I ambled by my computer one day, lazily clicked on something I didn’t even know how to use…and there was my second offer of representation the same week as I got my first!

I can still recall that agent’s words. “I think it has bestseller potential and I would like to offer you representation.”

Ahh, if only that bestseller thing were that easy.

Still, it was exciting to have multiple offers of rep after all those months of querying. And yes, I realize that “months” of querying is really nothing. But it felt like a long time.

I remember that my brother was home for some reason and there are few people who make me feel reassured in the way that my brother does. My husband. Sometimes my dad. Clearly this is a male thing. But my brother, whom I grew up with, and who will know me longer than anyone else on earth–my sister is a lot younger; I think my husband and she are about tied in this respect–has a calming effect on me that I can’t explain.

We weren’t calm that day though when we sat on the sun porch and my brother said to me, “Now that you’re going to be famous we must establish one thing.

“I get sixty percent.”

Poor guy. He’s still holding out for his sixty percent.

But I must admit, I whooped and pretended to be grand in response to his egging me on…

And then I had to choose which agent to sign with.


  1. Even your agent story is gripping! I can’t wait for the next installment. I think you need to do these a little mroe often. :)

    Comment by Judy — December 4, 2009 @ 1:46 pm

  2. Thanks, Judy! I will!

    Comment by jenny milchman — December 4, 2009 @ 4:12 pm

  3. Don’t trust an agent who says “bestseller.” Ever.

    What a story…I think we all can identify. We’re all lucky to have our supports, though mine are mostly female except when my husband has words of encouragement. You’ve done well…hang in there.

    Hopefully stories like this will all be “what happened way back when we weren’t even famous yet.” LOL

    Comment by sapphiresavvy — December 5, 2009 @ 10:20 am

  4. I’d agree about that bestseller thing, Sapphire, except that this agent went on to launch more than one bestseller. Also, the ms she was talking about was the one the agent I did sign with got three near offers on in the same week and thought there might be an auction! (A part of this saga for later…)

    But anyway, yes, you’re right, overblown claims are to be stayed far away from. I can’t help but wonder sometimes about the road not traveled though. Again, this will be for the next post.

    Comment by jenny — December 5, 2009 @ 10:28 am

  5. Oh, those tempting alternate reality fantasies! I am way too good at torturing myself with them. More power to you staying strong and keeping on track. Nothing about this business is easy, is it?

    Comment by Sara — December 5, 2009 @ 1:56 pm

  6. This really brings to mind the way I felt when I got my first agent, who then promptly (like within ten days) got me a three-book deal, and I thought I was going to own the best-seller lists and make extra money renting out numbers 2 through 10.

    Well, guess what.

    And then my second agent sent out the first of the Bangkok books, and there actually WAS an auction, and I buckled my seat belt and practiced my autograph all over again.

    And guess — ahh, don’t bother.

    But I get to write for a living and, as of today, there’s a publisher waiting at the end of the process. How lucky are we, anyway?

    Comment by Tim Hallinan — December 7, 2009 @ 3:00 am

  7. Thanks for all the wonderful comments on Shelley’s post so far, and welcome to the site, Tim and Carla. I can definitely attest to the power of Tim’s work (even if he hasn’t been flown around in a private jet…yet) and both Randy and Carla have some fantastic debuts headed our way in January. (If I’m lucky, I’ll get to write a little something about them right here.)

    In addition to penning a startling and wise book, Shelley has also proven herself to be a dynamo in marketing with a small press–another great blog topic!

    So nice to see you all here.

    Comment by jenny — December 7, 2009 @ 8:29 am

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