Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Agent Story--PART 3

So I'm on the phone, holding my breath, and Agent 2 says, "I got a job offer as an editor."

"...Oh." Yeah. I knew what was coming, but I was still gripping to a tiny bit of hope. Maybe he was about to say, but I said, screw you, bitches, I'm staying with hannah!

But no. He said he'd decided to take the job and he was really excited. But he was quick to say, "I'm not leaving you all alone. We've had a lot of meetings here, and we decided the best fit for you would probably be Suzie Townsend--"

"Oh, I know Suzie."

"You do?"

I guess it made some sense that he was surprised, since at that point, Suzie was fairly new. But I'm a ho on the internet, as you know, and I already knew Lisa Desrochers and knew Suzie was her agent. But because Lisa was the only one of her clients I knew about, my mind jumped to paranormal romance and I went WHAT ARE YOU THINKING in my head because, lovely though it may be, paranormal romance is pretty much the furthest thing from what I do. Except for the magic gay fish book. But whatever.

But when Agent 2 said, "So, can Suzie call you?" I said "Absolutely." Because what harm could it do? If it didn't seem like we'd mesh well, I could always query other people.

And then I congratulated him, and I hung up and cried my eyes out.

And then Suzie called.

Suzie is lovely on the phone, guys. Like, she's lovely in all capacities, but I feel pretty lucky that my first introduction to her was on the phone, where I could actually hear how excited she was and how much she liked my work. She thought this was going to be a great thing for both of us. I thought she was a little delusional, but at least she sounded like she liked my stuff.

I realize this part of the story makes me sound like a total bitch. But imagine you've been dating this guy for six months, and you're crazy about him, and he dumps you out of nowhere. If someone new comes along, no matter if she's super super hot and awesome and sweet, are you really going to believe her when she tells you she's your one and only true love?

Well...maybe you just need to give it a few weeks.

So I did.

And I can't really remember what happened. We started working on different stuff and re-evaluating where my career was going. I dove into Invincible Summer revisions, and her love of MG encouraged me to try my hand at it. We went on sub together and sold together. But even before that, weeks and weeks before that, I was smitten.

I think it was her ed letters.

God, nothing gets me going like a good ed letter.

So Agent 1 promised me revisions and rarely gave them. Agent 2 barely revised at all. Suzie, as some of you know, gets out her scissors and cuts your ideas into pieces and puts them back together the way they were supposed to be, you idiot.

I'd never had an agent who'd done that before. I wasn't sure I wanted it. I wasn't even sure I needed it. But the first letter Suzie sent me, on a project I'd finished years before (remember the manuscript that got me Agent 1 and didn't sell? that one) hit me in a way no critique had. You know how usually you have to get defensive first, then deal with that, then open yourself back up, before you can really see the points a critter gives you? Suzie's invented some kind of crazy magic formula that completely bypasses your defensive zone and hits you straight in the OHHHHHH part of your brain. The second she suggests something that's going to make the manuscript better, it's like I can already see that improved version of the manuscript in my head. Like I can envision all the words I'll need to change or add or take out to get there.

Writing with Suzie is different from writing without Suzie. And I never would have known that, or suspected that I was missing anything.

I'm a better writer now. I'm a different writer now. If I'd stayed with Agent 1, I'd probably still be stalled at the gate. If Agent 2 hadn't left, I'm sure I'd still be wildly happy and would probably have met a lot of success as the two of us continued together, but I would have ended up a very different writer.

But I'm with Suzie.

And I really, really like the kind of writer that's making me.


So there you have it. The complete and total agent story.

In some ways traditional, in some ways not.

I'll take questions, as always, and thanks for following along.


Suzy said...

Anyone named Suzie (even if she spells it wrong) is a genius.

Anonymous said...

Great Story, Hannah! Thanks for sharing it!

Dan Krokos said...

Her edit letters are royal. ROYAL. My recent one was 9 pages, right? Wow. THEN ANOTHER FOUR.

After I was done letting bears maul me in a forest, I sat down and did the work, and like you said, my ms is something it couldn't be without her.

In short, Suzie rocks.

Anonymous said...

*sniffle* That was awesome.

Suzie is now at the very very top of my query list. She was already in the top 5 but now she's number 1.

Livia said...

Instead of calling writers she's trying to woo, Suzie should just send them a link to this post. Does all the work for her :-)

Kristan said...

Aww... Now I am in love with Suzie, and I don't even know her! (Just the name. I'm a ho on the internet too. :P)

Yay for you and yay for Suzie and yay for strawberry cupcakes! Just because.

Emily White said...

Awesome story! My beta's crits are EXACTLY like that! I just get this aha moment, smack myself on the head, and wonder why I never saw it in the first place! It's like an adrenaline shot to the muse.

Graystone said...

Suzie sounds even more awesome than she did. I'm really glad that you've gotten an agent who makes you a better writer and who supports you the way a writer should be supported. It's great to hear a wonderful story like this.

Wellington said...

I only have one question:

Have my babies?

Emilia Plater said...


suzie townsend said...

So Hannah, let me replay part of our first phone convo...I bet I can nail down the part where you thought I was delusional:

Suzie: I'm so excited. I love you!
Hannah: ...
Suzie: I love Agent 2 and will miss him in the office, but the best thing about him leaving is that we can work together.
Hannah: ...
Suzie: I hear you write a book a week. I'm going to read them ALL this weekend! And then send massive notes.
Hannah: ...Great?

Glad I didn't scare you away :)

And to Dan - Why do you lie so much?

Dan Krokos said...


Larissa said...

Awww! Another cyber-friend of mine is one of Suzie's clients, too, and I am sooooooo jealous. She does seem amazing! :)

Lydia Sharp said...

I seriously just cried. That's such an awesome story.

hannah said...

suzie--oh my God, PLEASE tell me I didn't just sit there all quiet. I am such a spaz.

elissa said...

yayyy happy stories are awesome! I'm so glad this all worked out the way it did for you, hannah! so so happy! I remember your sadness when Agent 2 left, and I know there was a lot of worry, and then it was just so terrific when the two of you hit it off like you did!

*snuggles the post*

Julie said...

Hannah - OMG!! You just nailed what I failed to explain properly to crit partners/family about why Suzie's notes are so awesome :)

All they heard was "14 pages single spaced" and it was like . . . "oh, yuck. Don't worry it gets better."

And I was like, "No seriously, they are awesome notes because now I know exactly what to do."

And those notes were draft two and even now with draft 4 I keep going back and reading them again because I get something new from it every time!

I've decided that she edits from a reader's point of view. An elite, educated reader, if she loves something she doesn't want you to take it out so she offers a perfect solution for keeping it.

Yeah for the post Hannah! And Yeah for Suzie and her awesome notes which I will probably never delete from my computer.

Anna Scanlon said...

Such an agent slut! :) I'm glad to finally get Part 3!

Ted Cross said...

You are very lucky to find an agent you truly click with. I dream of having that someday.

Jennifer Hoffine said...

Great story. Sometimes it takes a few wrong turns to find the right agent.

Suzie's wonderful!

Anonymous said...

I remember when you were first having to switch and you were all AHH OMG WHUT WHUT WTF, and so the musers started google-stalking Suzie to tell you wonderful things about her and make you feel better.

And the more I read the more I was like OMG I MUST QUERY THIS WOMAN.*

Lol. I blame you for my good luck. :D

* I will also add that I love Adrian Mole so an agent called Suzie Townsend was like a sign from the heavens. Yes, this is how I judge things - you do not understand how much utter glee my editor's surname gives me.

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

I'm happy it all worked out for you. Thank you for sharing it. I'm still scared, but in a good way. Now I'm a little less scared to query Suzie. :)

aspiring_x said...

i'm all about a happy ending!
yay for you!
and suzie!

Arlaina said...

I simply can't wait for the Agent Story-- Part 4!

hannah said...

Arlaina--please let's pray there's no part 4.

Karla Nellenbach said...

Even though it was quite the odyssey, it sounds to me like you found the other half of your literary brain in Suzie Q :) Much luck to you in the future, and I can't wait for your next book to come out!

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

This is such an awesome story! I'm querying now, and I can only hope to some day find an agent like Suzie (wait, no, I'm querying her NOW!). :)

Arlaina said...

I meant like- the awesome and continuing adventures with the great and amazing ST...


Lisa Desrochers said...

My comment from yesterday totally didn't post!!! WTF!

My keyboard started smoking when you started talking trash about my crappy paranormal book. Just sayin'.

But, even though you think my book's crap, I told you Suzie was good, yeah? I never lie.

hannah said...

Lisa, you are so full of shit. :P I love you and PD and you know it.

Nadine said...

I'm so glad the agent change worked out for you! Suzie sounds awesome and a perfect match for your work!

Question - Were you able to meet any of your agents?

hannah said...

Nadine--Suzie's the only one I've met.

Brendan said...

This is fascinating! Agent #2 sounds frickin awesome! I'm sure it broke his heart to leave you. And yes, Suzie rules. Everyone knows that shit is true.



hannah said...


maine character said...

If I knew Suzie like you knew Suzie, I'd be happy indeed. Congrats on such a wonderful match.

clindsay said...

Suzie is amazing. A great agent and a good friend. You could not be in better hands at FinePrint, lady.

And having been an agent on the other side of that conversation, lemme tell ya: it sucks to tell clients you're leaving them. It feel like the worst kind of betrayal. You are both excited about a new job opportunity and wracked with guilt about being excited.

But I was fortunate that I was able to hook up almost all of my clients with great agents at FinePrint, Suzie among them.

Yeah, you're in good hands. =)

Karla Calalang said...

This was a fantastic story. Loved reading about it. And gratz on getting the perfect agent for you! :D