I’m so excited. Robin Rue, a senior agent at Writers House, one of the top 20 literary agencies in the nation and the largest in the world, will be helping me find a publisher for my novel, From the Far Ends of the Earth.
I never expected it to happen this fast. I’d planned on giving myself six months to a year to find an agent and/or publisher for my book. If it didn’t happen by then I would turn to self-publishing. I really didn’t want to go that route. All the work involved sounded exhausting, but it was important to get the book out there, one way or another.
I had been working on it, on and off, over the last several years. It went through dozens of revisions, two sets of readers, a period where I absolutely hated it and was tempted to quit, and a long 18 month period where I didn’t work on it at all when going through some major life changes.
It was time to put this baby to bed.
So I created a list of about 20 agents who I thought would be a good fit, and created a list of about 20 publishers who would accept manuscripts without an agent. I worked and reworked my query letter a dozen times. And then the first person I sent it to, Robin Rue, asked to read it. A week later she wrote to say she loved my novel and would be proud to represent me. Yesterday she sent the novel out to a dozen top-tier publishers.
But I had help, and a foot-up in the process. A writer friend who had read and loved my novel offered to refer me to her agent. So that’s where I sent it first. And that’s where my search ended. I am so grateful to her and humbled that I lucked out in such a wonderful way. I’m still pinching myself.
For you writers out there, and those who want to know what my novel is about, here’s the body of the query letter I sent to Robin:
From the Far Ends of the Earth is a 100,000 word literary novel with strong upmarket and book club potential. It tells the story of three family members left behind when the mother at the center of their lives mysteriously disappears. How they cope with her disappearance, learn to reconnect with each other, and forge new relationships in her absence create the heart of this novel.
One day Fran heads toward the grocery store and keeps on going till she reaches the tip of South America. Meanwhile she leaves behind an empty hole in the lives of her family: Kay, a cranky grad student studying archaeology who adores her mother but distrusts men in general, her father and brother in particular; Cal, a heroin addict living in his parents’ home when his mother disappears, left with a father he fears and no other means of support; and Walter, a dedicated husband but distant father whose random bursts of temper have always set the family on edge.
Adding to the mystery of the mother’s disappearance are the “gifts” she sends her family: The breathlessly elated messages she leaves on her daughter’s answering machine, but never when she is there to pick up. The strangely distorted photographs she mails her son, who studies them like hieroglyphs he must decipher to save her, and save himself. The credit card bills she leaves for her husband to pay, allowing him to continue caring for her as he always has, while he uses them to track her journey across the continent with push-pins on a map.
Except for the beginning and ending when we hear the mother’s voice, the story is told from the perspectives of the three family members left behind. The mother remains an absent presence that permeates the novel without inhabiting it. She is seen only through the filters of her family’s memories and perceptions of her.
Ultimately the novel is about the journeys of self-discovery each protagonist takes to piece back together their fragmented lives and make themselves, and their family, whole again.
Writing this novel was certainly a journey of self-discovery for me as a writer. After some time to celebrate, and a long-awaited trip to Europe, I’ll be starting a new novel.