Emmie Mears (EmmieMears on QT) has signed with agent Sara Megibow of KT Literary.
In the book, the protagonists live in a land of bounty where one day in five is a day of feasting and rest. When they come of age, they journey to find their names...but when they do, they're also initiated into the secret of their home's abundance: they live in wealth because their ancestors cast a spell to magically siphon off the resources of the land to the north, where the people now live in poverty, disease, and near-starvation. They can choose to either stay in their village and become complicit in this, or they can leave, become Nameless, and face exile and death.
So. Three years ago I tried querying my first finished novel. I got no requests and quickly shelved it after some very timely advice from a now-NYT bestseller friend who gently told me it wasn't submission ready. Later that year, I wrote a UF called SHRIKE (later retitled THE MASKED SONGBIRD), which was my third finished book. I queried that starting in September 2012, and I signed with my first agent, Jessica Negron, in late January of 2013. She was the only offer I got, but her passion and ambition made me feel confident, and that is a decision I will never regret. She was my champion. She plucked me out of the slush and helped me make SHRIKE the best book it could be.
We exhausted our submission list pretty quickly. There were a lot of near misses (it got to acquisitions I think three times), and then an editor at Harlequin offered to give it a home in their E imprint. It came out in July 2014 in a box set, then solo in September. Less than a month after the solo release, I got a call from Jes telling me that Harlequin was closing Harlequin E after the acquisition by Harper Collins, and that the book, along with its sequel and a little non-fiction book under contract, were orphaned. I took it pretty well; I'd had a feeling something wasn't quite right. Less than three weeks after that, a deal for my next book (which had been on sub over a year) STORM IN A TEACUP fell through. (October was rough, guys. Really, really rough.)
On December 20, just a few days before Christmas, THE MASKED SONGBIRD was taken off sale. STONEBREAKER was only half finished. I'd already decided to self publish STORM IN A TEACUP. But clicking to my Amazon page for THE MASKED SONGBIRD broke something in me. I can't think of that day without feeling this dangling-over-a-chasm feeling. I worked so long and hard to get to that point, where my art and stories were out in the world. And it was very suddenly gone. Three days before, I'd actually written to a celebrity who I'd met and who had wanted to read the book. I had to write her back that it was gone, and the mortification I felt was almost crippling. People talk about impostor syndrome -- well. In that moment, on December 20, 2014, I felt like I'd been exposed as a fraud and that I'd been pulled away from my longest-held dream by the scruff of the neck and slapped on the wrist.
I knew, intellectually, that what happened wasn't personal and that it was pure business. It was not a value judgement on me. These things happen more often than you might think. But those feelings were raw and painful and that's the day I almost gave up. I wanted to. I was exhausted from years of working 80-100+ hour weeks and barely scraping by. Two weeks later, my agent told me she was leaving the business. And I about broke again. (I never blamed her; she's wonderful and had very, very real reasons for going.)
Then something crazy happened. An agent who heard what was happening reached out to me and preemptively offered rep. STONEBREAKER, as I said, was only half done. The next day, I woke up to an email from a (different) celebrity I'd met at a con, asking for my help with something. I hit the button on the jet pack and finished STONEBREAKER in two weeks (don't ever let me write 70K in a week again, dudes, like for real). And suddenly, I was moving again. I sent 37 queries on February 4, got 20 full requests, and ended up with seven offers of representation. So...if I'd quit December 20 or January 5? Yeah. Would not be here. Also, the book I self-published, STORM IN A TEACUP, sold over 500 copies in its first month.
To quote my favorite fish...Just. Keep. Swimming.
If I'd met them, I said so and when. If I'd followed them on Twitter, I said so. If I was familiar with client work, I said that too. If I had nothing at all to say other than the genre of my book matched what they repped though? I left it alone and got straight to the book.
The other advice is this: always, always, always be writing something new. Not only will it improve your craft, but it's a good distraction. One thing that's hard to swallow but is very much part of this business is that you have to be able to put things aside sometimes. That doesn't mean they're bad, but sometimes you have to set them aside and come back to them later. Always be writing new things.
I am seeking new representation because my former agent has left the business. STONEBREAKER is a multi-POV adult epic fantasy complete at 140,000 words, the first in a planned five book series.
I currently have a preemptive offer from an agent, who encouraged me to query widely to ensure I find the best fit before making a final decision. She would like a final answer by February 28.
STONEBREAKER is a diverse story (in terms of gender, sexuality, and race) set in a non-Western, proto-agrarian culture...with giant sentient camouflage-able bats as a bonus.
Carin has never known hunger. Born in the Hearthland village of Haveranth, a lush land of fertile fields and abundant resources, her biggest worry is whether or not she and her three friends will find their true names on their Journeying. But when one of them is murdered on the morning of their departure, they are forced to leave without answers, grief-stricken and afraid.
As they travel north, names and mourning are not all they find waiting for them. Carin and her two remaining friends discover the rotting truth of Haveranth and the Hearthland that surrounds it: their ancestors cast a spell to steal the very life force of the vast lands and tribes beyond the mountains and direct it to the Hearthland. While Hearthlanders live a life of plenty, their northern neighbors face scarcity, disease, and starvation -- and every grown adult in Carin's homeland is complicit.
When Carin and her friends return to Haveranth, newly named, they must take their places in the community – and the lie that binds them – or be cast out. With her knowledge of the suffering her people have caused, Carin forsakes her new name and chooses exile, but discovers that there is no fleeing -- Haveranth wants her dead. Carin and her friend Ryd journey north through the mountains to break the spell and restore balance to their world by breaking the stones that forged it -- though doing so may doom the entire world to chaos.
I sold my debut THE MASKED SONGBIRD (formerly SHRIKE), along with its sequel and a non-fiction book, THE GEEK GIRL'S GUIDE TO FANDOM to Harlequin in 2014, but unfortunately with the acquisition of Harlequin by Harper Collins, they opted to close my imprint a few months after my debut's release. My rights have reverted for all three books, therefore GEEK GIRL'S GUIDE as well as subsidiary rights for the novels could be exploited.
I am happy to provide the full manuscript of STONEBREAKER upon request. Additionally, I encourage you to contact my former agent if you have any questions about the nature of our parting.