Sometimes a long journey into the wilderness ends close to home.
That’s where my journey, a quest to find a champion–a literary agent–for EYEWALL ended. I began my odyssey in 2008, but after half a hundred rejections from agents, I realized the book wasn’t good enough. Not one agent requested the entire manuscript. (For those of you unfamiliar with the literary world, agents are the gatekeepers for major and many smaller publishing houses.)
So I drew a deep breath, stepped back from EYEWALL, and went to work on INSIDE THE WEATHER CHANNEL. But always, in the back of my mind, lurked EYEWALL. It was just too good of a concept to abandon. I became determined to make it work.
After analyzing the agents’ rejection comments, it became clear to me what was wrong with the manuscript. I rewrote and reorganized the novel. Then, once again, I plunged into the jungle. This time I received over half a dozen requests for a full manuscript.
But still, no one loved it quite enough (“Close, but no cigar,” one agent said) to pick it up.
Discouragement began to slowly engulf me. Time to run up the white flag? Maybe consider just making it an e-book? On a trip to Germany, I mulled over my options and realized I’d missed one. Close to home.
Much of EYEWALL is set on St. Simons Island on the Georgia coast. There’s a small agency there, Sullivan Maxx, I’d come in contact with several years ago. I knew the president, Holly McClure, but was also aware she didn’t handle the genre in which EYEWALL fit. Still, it could be considered a regional book, and she does specialize in those. So, I thought, she’s worth a try.
I sent Holly a query letter and after that things happened rapidly. She liked the first three chapters, but said she wasn’t taking on new clients, so forwarded them to her fellow agent, Jeanie Pantelakis. To make a long story short, Jeanie requested the entire manuscript and within three days–yes, three–I had a contract with Sullivan Maxx.
Before I signed it, however, I needed to check the status of a manuscript for EYEWALL that was in the hands of another agency. The decision to sign with Jeanie was easy after I discovered the other agency, a big-name NYC firm, hadn’t read the manuscript although they’d had it for over two months.
Jeanie was not only blazingly fast, she actually did some editing of the manuscript. Most agents won’t take the time to do that.
But most importantly, she liked the book! How can you not love an agent who says, “I am convinced… this is a hit.” Or, “I see great possibilities….”
Like I said, sometimes a long journey ends close to home. Thanks, Jeanie and Holly.
Photo: Jeanie Pantelakis
Jeanie Pantelakis, an agent with the Sullivan Maxx Literary Agency, is representing EYEWALL.