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Ellen Oh: A Success Story

I received the sweetest comment from Ellen Oh after she sold her book, PROPHECY: THE DRAGON KING CHRONICLES (and two more!), thanking me for my blog and the Agent Spotlight series. I e-mailed her back and mentioned I would love to feature her on my blog and thus began a lovely exchange of e-mails. Now, here she is with a guest post! I hope you'll find her story as inspiring as I do.


I started writing back in 2000 and worked on 2 manuscripts in 7 years. It took me that long because I was working full time. I queried my second manuscript and got back good feedback from agents but it was clear I needed to do major work on it. But before I could go back to revise it, the idea of for Prophecy sprung into my head while I was stuck in traffic on the beltway. I remember trying to write frantically on bits of paper as my car was crawling along. That book took me 5 months to write and then I got my first agent fairly quickly. We went on our first round of submissions and got back a lot of requests for revisions. I took a year revising but at the end of the year, my ms was so different from what my first agent had signed on for and we decided to part ways. I didn't know it at the time, but it was the best thing that happened to me.

For my second agent search, I did things differently. First of all, I found your blog which was a godsend. I read every single agent spotlight interview and started compiling a new agent excel spreadsheet based entirely on what I like to think of as compatability factors. What books had the agents repped, what were their likes and dislikes, how did they come across in their interviews, etc. The Agent Spotlight series helped me create the perfect list of agents to query. Instead of doing a mass querying, my second time around, I was extremely cautious of who I queried. I made sure I knew everything I could about an agent before querying them. And I queried in very small batches. I was fortunate to get a lot of full requests and by having staggered my queries, I was able to get some feedback from agents that rejected my ms. Of the agents that rejected me early in the process, every single one of them gave me back useful comments that I used to revise my MS. In fact, two wonderful agents gave me detailed comment letters that I will always be grateful for. Because it was after I made the last of these revisions and sent out new queries, that I got four offers of representation. But the key to this was taking my time, not rushing the query process. And in many ways I was very lucky because most of the agents asked for and read my full quickly. The offers I got were all from amazing agents, but I ended up signing with Joe Monti for two reasons - first, we talked on the phone for 2 hours that felt like 20 minutes, and second, he already knew how he wanted me to revise, and even though they were big revisions, I knew he was right.

So then came six more months of heavy revision before I finally heard the news that we were ready to go on submission. And then after what felt like years of writing, revising and waiting to get to this one moment, a week later I had an offer of a lifetime.

When I got my publishing deal, I had a sort of a flashback of all the long years I'd been writing. It was like a montage of memories filled with the naysayers and the well wishers and my moments of both incredible highs and depressing lows. I don't think there's a writer alive who didn't think of quitting at some point in their careers. It's a difficult business. But at that moment, as I gratefully accepted my offer, I was thankful for every single one of those moments. The naysayers made me determined to prove them wrong and the well wishers supported me through good and bad times.

So thanks Casey for all your hard work on the Agent Spotlight series! I wouldn't have found my amazing agent without it!

Thank YOU, Ellen, for sharing your story with us. I seriously cannot wait to read the trilogy!

If you'd like to read more about Ellen's path to publication and her deal announcement, click HERE. If you'd like to read a little interview with me, head on over to her blog. Ellen can be found at the following places:

Website
Blog
Twitter
Goodreads
Facebook

22 comments:

  1. There's nothing better than reading a success story, and this is a terrific one! Congratulations to Ellen on a wonderful conclusion to much hard work.

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  2. Ellen, thanks SO much for your inspiring story. I write while working full time and have been working on one manuscript for about 7 years too because I'm squeezing it in between work and family. But you are so inspiring me not to give up and giving me hope that I can do it. Thank you and I've added your books to my list to read. They sound great from the title.

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  3. What a great story! Thank you for sharing, Ellen!

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  4. What a great and inspiring story! Another example of determination and keeping your eyes on your goals. Good luck, Ellen. And I second her thanks to Casey for all her hard work and agent spotlights. :)

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  5. Ellen and I have been online friends for three or four years, and she's just a wonderful woman (with the most amazing kids).

    Her path to publication, and her kindness, generosity of spirit, and iron will are inspiring. I know she'll be successful.

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  6. YAY, what an awesome story!! Congrats!!

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  7. Okay. So I had to go chase down Ellen's blog and her facebook page and so forth. Now I'm back.

    I love this post. There is nothing better than when people can help each other achieve success. Especially when they're writers.

    So inspiring, way to go ladies!

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  8. That's awesome! I love the agent spotlights too! Congrats to both of you!

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  9. Congratulations, Ellen. It's great to hear theses success stories.

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  10. Love, love, LOVE this post! I was so excited when I saw Ellen Oh's name pop up in Publisher's Marketplace. Congrats and thanks for sharing the process behind such a wonderful payoff :)

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  11. I'm looking forward to reading Ellen's work.

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  12. Can't wait to read Ellen's work, after reading her blog for so long. Everyone should check it out!

    Congrats, Ellen!

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  13. Great story! Talk about fortitude and pushing through. So many revisions to get your vision out there.

    And cool blog and website, too. Well, except for the Yankees. :-)

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  14. I read her success story and I love the part where she screamed. You know even the most dignified of us are going to scream.lol

    I don't post that often, Casey, but I want you to know that your agent spotlight is the main source of info I look to. You really help so many people and I know everyone appreciates it. Thank you!

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  15. What a great success story! Very inspirational. I love that she stuck with it for so long.

    Also, Casey, your blog has helped a lot of people. I know I've used it a ton in my agent search. You should feel very proud of what you've created here.

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  16. Thank you to everyone for your lovely comments! And once again a big thank you to Casey who I think is the kindest and most generous writer that I know!

    Casey - karma will come back and reward you in many many wonderful ways!

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  17. Thank you for your delightful comments, everyone. You're so sweet! I'm glad you find Ellen's story as inspiring as I do.

    Ellen, thank you again. You are seriously too nice! You can bet I'll be watching and waiting for Prophecy. Can't come soon enough!

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  18. Congratulations, Ellen! What an encouraging success story!

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  19. Ellen, thanks for sharing, and congratulations! I look forward to reading your novels.

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  20. As one of Ello's old crit partners I went on that rollercoaster with her for part of the ride and she NEVER gave up - never lost the faith that she would be published! And what a wonderful conclusion to that story!!

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  21. Yay for Ellen!! I recognize her dancing pig icon from the Blueboards,and I am so happy that she has found this success! YAY!!

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  22. I'm so happy for you Ellen. Wonderful, powerful story attributing to the strength of your own characters and wisdom as you grew through the process. And of course, thanks to Casey and her spotlight, because I honestly cannot think of a better resource on the whole of the internet for writers.

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