At the start of this year, I decided to write a novel. It was a novel about henna and being Bengali and being gay. It was a novel that was fun. It had been a rough couple of months and writing a romantic comedy seemed like the thing to make me feel better.
And it did! Writing this novel is probably the most fun writing I've had in a long time. While I was working on my first draft, I kept messaging my friend, Alyssa, to say, "I know nothing will probably come of this but I'm having fun," and, "I'm writing these jokes that are probably not funny but I'm laughing and that's the important part!"
I finished drafting in March.
I was kind of shocked at how much I came to love the story. It was a rom-com still, but it also became a lot more than a simple rom-com. I had learnt a lot about myself while I wrote that first draft and I had figured out the heart of the story—which was honestly totally missing in that draft.
So I dove into revisions. I did one major revision with lots of rewrites and then, with the help of my amazing beta readers, I did two more minor revisions.
Then, I was ready for the query trenches (but are we ever really ready for the query trenches?). I made a spreadsheet of agents. I perfected my query and synopsis.
I sent out my first queries at the beginning of September and even though I loved my story and believed in it, I was nervous. The thing is I knew my story. I knew that it was really Bengali and really queer. That it was really intersectional and had an interracial relationship and some themes that I had never really seen tackled in a YA book before. I knew that it was a rom-com with girls of colour. In my experiences, it's difficult to get people to love a story like this.
I wasn't querying for long before it was time for #DVpit, which I was super excited about. I love #DVpit and the community around it. I love seeing all of the wonderful projects by marginalised people, and #DVpit is how I made a lot of my closest writer friends!
I was both excited and supremely nervous to be pitching in this round. I scheduled my tweets wayyyy ahead of the day and kept tweaking them until basically the last possible minute. I was at work for the first couple of hours of the event so I only checked my Twitter when I get home and...holy crap! I was so overwhelmed, especially at all of the people who had replied and QT'd to tell me how excited they were for my story.
I was already figuring out how to spreadsheet agent and editor likes, when I would have the time to research and query them, etc etc. A few hours before #DVpit ended, I received an email. It was from Agent A, someone I had cold queried back in September. They had written me a really long email which immediately told me that they just got my book. But they didn't want to offer yet—they were asking me to do a minor R&R.
I was already feeling so overwhelmed with #DVpit and now I was feeling doubly overwhelmed!!! So I did what anyone would do: I turned off my computer and phone and went to sleep.
Obviously, the overwhelming feeling did not go away the next day, but it was better. And I had my day job to go to. I was in the staff room, sitting at my desk, scrolling through Twitter, when I get another email. From Agent A.
They had changed their mind.
They wanted to make me an offer.
I had five minutes until I was meant to teach a class and I!! was!! panicking!! I somehow closed my email and actually got through the workday, even though (don't tell my boss) I really don't remember what I taught that day.
I emailed Agent A to set up a call while trawling the Internet and badgering my friends for any advice they could offer. Then, I received another email—from Agent B. They wanted to set up a call.
If my heart wasn't already doing palpitations (it was) it was definitely doing palpitations then (can hearts do double palpitations? can your heart beat at an increased rate for an entire day? Because that was me, okay?).
I had calls with both agents and uh-oh they were both wonderful and enthusiastic about my manuscript. I was super happy and genuinely couldn't believe that two amazing agents loved my book and wanted to work with me. But I also knew I had a difficult decision ahead of me.
I sent off my emails to other agents who had my manuscript, and tried to agonisingly make a decision. To my surprise, a couple of days later I received an email from Agent C—they wanted to set up a call! (Did I mention heart palpitations?)
My agonising decision just became more agonising, but in the end I signed with the first agent because of his enthusiasm and passion for my work. I know that he will make a fantastic advocate for my book. So I am pleased to announce that I am now represented by Uwe Stender at Triada US!
Don't get me wrong, my experience has not all been sunshine and daisies. Before this project, I queried another that got no bites even though I loved it with all my heart. And querying, in itself, is a painful process. Thankfully, I had some of the best people in the world to keep me afloat during querying, rejections, offers, and making my decision.
Thanks to them, I now get to work on my book with a wonderful agent and hopefully bring it out into the world.