I'm pleased to report that I've accepted an offer of representation from Roz Nay at the Mint Literary Agency.
I started querying Chance & King back in April, having reached a satisfactory place in my own revisions to put it out there. Well, I'm pleased to report that the overall experience has been very different than the ego-bashing escapade of Aeden's Wake (aside from the obvious, the offer of representation!). With AW, I blanket-queried about fifty agents and, apart from a single full request and a couple of personal notes, received form rejection after form rejection ("Dear Author..."). Very disheartening. In retrospect, I think I presented AW incorrectly, selling it as literary with an element of supernatural, when in fact it is probably better described as literary magic realism that happens to have the realism portrayed through supernatural elements.
I was able to take those hard lessons and apply them to my pitch sessions at the Surrey International Writer's Conference. There, after doing more research and speaking in person with agents about the book, I had better luck, seven full manuscript requests, and an offer from an agent in the San Francisco area. However, that relationship did not work out, her having signed me on the condition that she would only sell my book if my revisions met with her approval, and me, being blinded by the potential of having an agent, shortsightedly accepted. In the end, we parted ways because her enthusiasm for the project had waned and, although I brought AW to a very tight and solid place that aligned with my vision for the work, after a series of missteps and miscommunications, she refused to put it out there.
This time around, armed with a greater comfort about into which market I would like to place C&K, as well as knowing that The Niche is an element of magical realism (magical realism never explains why something is magical, it just is), I was able to narrow my search to agents who handle literary YA, and even find a handful who are seeking literary YA that dabbles in the urban/fantastic/magical. What a difference! Although I received mostly rejections, the vast majority were personal ones, with notes that praised the quality of the writing and the concept and were very encouraging all around. I also had a handful of full manuscript requests which, again, was very different than the experience I'd had with AW, where I only received one full and one partial request.
But most importantly, based on my previous agent experience, I resolved not to accept an offer of representation unless 1) the agent was openly and genuinely excited about the novel and my talent; 2) I was satisfied that I was in control of any revisions in C&K and that it would be presented to publishers after my revisions; and 3) the agent understood what I was trying to do with the novel's structure and form and would not ask me to alter the bigger vision. To do otherwise would be a loss for both parties: like what happened with AW, I might work hard at edits for a year only to find out it was all conditional on a differing/faulty vision and have it refused, and he/she might give a year of free editing advice without a sale at the end.
In the end, Roz blew me away when our conversation revealed that she was on board with all three of those hard lessons I learned, and was super excited to put the novel in publishers' hands. She has some ideas for revisions, of course, which I'll be working through, but she (and Morty, the agency's founder) assured me that it was my work, and I would guide any and all revisions to the novel, and that they would try to sell it when I was ready.
It's an amazing feeling to have my work recognized in this way and to know that my agent is 100% in my corner. Every writer who has bigger plans for his/her work should have that validation, I think.
Next stop: revising and selling the novel (and then hopefully getting it into your hands!).