In case you haven't heard the screams of joy emanating from my house, be it known the following message is up on Publishers Marketplace:
Gary Corby's THE EPHIALTES AFFAIR, set in Periclean Athens, to Keith Kahla at Minotaur, with Kathleen Conn editing, in a nice deal, for publication in Fall 2010, by Janet Reid at FinePrint Literary Management (world).
Which means, come September/October next year, you'll be able to read the book!
Alright, it's not exactly like that on Publishers Marketplace. I colored in the names and the pub date. So far I have resisted printing it off, covering it in fairy sparkles, and hugging it in bed at night.
This almost didn't happen.
When I started querying agents in the US, I did my research like a good boy, and came across someone called Janet Reid.
Here was a successful, established literary agent in New York who loved mysteries. She sounded just wonderful for me, so clearly this was never going to fly. I didn't have that kind of luck.
To start with, a manuscript assessor I'd talked to had told me the chances of getting anywhere in the highly competitive New York market was indistinguishable from zero. Secondly, all the advice I'd read said new writers should look for new agents, still trying to build up their lists. So, a great agent with an established list in NY? Not a hope in Hades. Obviously. Nevertheless, if you don't try you certainly won't succeed, so Janet went on my query list. Out went the queries.
Then it occurred to me to move my web site (the one you're reading) from Sydney to the US, to save most of my readers that extra half second of pageload time. It was hardly important, but it was simple to do. I thought.
The web host tranferred the site, turning back on an old security certificate which I had turned off months before. I was now the only person on the planet who could see my web site, because I was the only one with that old certificate loaded. But I didn't know that, because the only computer I used to check the web site was my own. Because I am an idiot.
My email accounts hadn't been transferred with the server. But I didn't know that because I didn't check email after the transfer. Because I am an idiot.
Life went on. I hadn't received any email, but that was no surprise because I was only using that address for writing, I'd only sent the queries a week ago, and no agent was going to respond within a week.
A week after sending the queries, close to midnight, my wife Helen was cleaning out an old online email account which we use as a spam catcher. Everyone has an account like that; the one you enter for web sites and business where you don't trust them not to spam you, or sell your address. Helen had her finger poised over the delete button to erase hundreds of spam, when she said, "There's an email here that looks real."
It was real. This is what it said:
you queried me.
I wanted to read more!
Your email bounced, your website is closed.
I resorted to posting on my blog and some folks found this email attached to your old website.
Get in touch if you'd still like me to read the pages!
This was weird. I checked my web site, and it was up just fine. My wife checked it from her PC. It was inaccessible. Uh oh. After some fiddling I work out what's gone wrong.
But that's only the web site. Email should still be working, shouldn't it? I check the email accounts. They're kaput. Worse than kaput, they're non-existent.
I found Janet's blog, and there I read:
Gary Corby, where are you?
Your email bounced back.
Your website is gone.
I want to read pages.
You're making it hard to do so!
Last chance!The time required to move from normal body state to near heart attack is approximately two seconds, as I learned at that moment. Eight people have been trying to track me down. The comment from Travis Erwin is spot on: "Gary, I hope you are reading and realize this is definitely going above and beyond." Yep. Sha'el, Princess of Pixies found the old email account Janet had used to send me that email.
By 2 am I'd fixed the web site and had the email accounts back and working, and tested. Then I sent Janet a groveling apology. Then I hopped on to Janet's blog and thanked all those nice people looking for me, and there was much rejoicing and mirth at my discovery.
This is certainly a novel and interesting way to call attention to yourself. It's worked out brilliantly for me, but if you're thinking of doing the same thing to differentiate yourself, I wouldn't recommend it.