Let's start here. Finished manuscript or not, I knew nothing about the publishing world. Film world? Inside and out. Publishing? Nada con queso. The cheese part was filled with super yummy awesomeness. The nada was like a deceitful, manipulative ex-girlfriend who flaunts her new "way better looking" and "supremely talented" fiancé in your face.
With limited contacts, I in fact knew but a single person in publishing, I was forced to use my sleep deprived, worn out, cob-webbed noggin on some serious action-plan planning. I didn't want to jump straight into the action plan itself - I'm too cautious for that. Scratch that, I'm too lazy. But I started planning, plotting, and scheming. My PPS yielded very little, while my continued lucky streak, which has lasted since the very minute I squirted out into this bright, big world, brought me the contact I needed.
New years eve 2008 offered another miraculous coincidence that I have had the luxury of enjoying for these past 33 years. Our fabulous friends, Jimmy and Jen, along with their daughter/Jaden's current fling-slash-chick o' the hour, Josie, were supposed to come over for a cozy little shindig. Triple J's is the nickname I've given the fearless threesome, and for a bit a trivia - that name later became the name for the fake company set up by Chris Kringle's parents to share his inventions with the world in the novel. Anyway - that crazy,defiant one-year-old Josie decided to stay out til the wee hours of the morning with her 3 cavorting gal-pals for like 4 nights in a row and ended up sick - puking, fever, yellow/green/brown/ mucus spewing yuckiness all over, kind of sick. What Jimmy and Jen had been putting in her bottle, I don't know, and don't want to know. Point is this - it was clearly a no-go on our celebration. Secretly I believe the universe simply won't allow that many people whose names begin with the letter J to congratate in a humble abode at the same time.
Being the swinging, ultra-hip, no-plan-having couple we are, Ellie and I needed somewhere to go. Our other friends, Melbolay (Melissa, Bob and Layla) were having a big ole bash at their apartment across the street and opened the doors to us slackers. In we went, and my career began.
Michelle Tessler is an amazing agent here in NYC with a) her own agency. Pretty sweet! www.tessleragency.com
Go check her out IMMEDIATELY if you write incredible non-fiction! b) a really cute kid. c) an enterprising husband who opened an online business with super yummy and healthy pizzas. http://www.unavoltahomemades.com
d) A wonderful smile that welcomes you to tell your story with ease, like you've been friends for years. She's seriously awesome and tireless in helping someone. e) most relevant - she's friends with Melbolay and therefore was at the New Year's Eve bash.
At that point, I hadn't finished my tweaks with draft 3, but Michelle and I spoke about it and she told me to send it her way when I was ready. As I mentioned, she reps non-fiction (and quite well, I'll add) so she wasn't going to be able to offer me representation. However, she said she had friends in MG and YA and she'd see what she could do.
Fast forward using the scan feature on your remote control and you arrive a few weeks later, when I was ready to pass the manuscript along. Michelle and I sat down for coffee (actually she got tea and I opted for some grub. I'm never more than an hour away from a meal!) and discussed the book a little further. I picked her brain about everything publishing related. As you know, I had lots of catching up to do. At the end, I had lots of knowledge about how to find an agent, how to write a query, and though unrelated to the actual book publishing process, how to pitch a story idea while having smoked salmon caught between your teeth.
After she read a bit of the MS, Michelle said she thought it was well written and entertaining, but that it was so far from her area she couldn't really give me any advice. However, she had two friends she thought I should send it to. Luckily, both of these friends were agents. Not that I wouldn't want her cleaning lady and nanny's opinion, but I figured an agent who worked with MG would probably be better suited to offer advice.
I sent out e-queries to both her friends.
Less than 24 hours later, I got a surprise response.