Monday, June 27, 2011

The Little Agent That Could

Or, how my best friend and I finally got me published.

Also, said Agent and I have been celebrating our victory and my birthday weekend in South Beach, Florida right now, so this story already has a happy ending.

You are fresh from the first of three colleges you’ll drop out of. You answer a literary agency’s craigslist post. You run to your interview in a black office dress and black heels. You are overdressed.

Yep, that’s me.

For my first visit to PMA Literary and Film Management, I looked like a secretary. The lady interviewing me for the position of minion, AKA slush pile goon, AKA mail dropper, AKA future coffee addict, was Adrienne Rosado. Adrienne, cool and always in a funny t-shirt, quickly became my close friend as she occasionally contributed to my underage drinking. I learned how to write a query letter. I learned the neat and many categories books get divvied into. I learned that 95 % of submissions are unreadable and 3% of them are from prison inmates and wanna-be pimps. I learned many things.
After all I was an eager wannabe writer in sponge form, soaking up all the publishing knowledge.
I also here and now (from Miami beach) take FULL RESPONSIBILITY (and credit) for introducing my young friend Adrienne to Young Adult fiction. She was all, what the hell is that book? And I was all, uhm, A Great and Terrible Beauty by some new writer Libba Bray, duh. There’s magic and a teen girl and stuff.

Eventually, we would make weekly trips to the B&N across the street from PMA's Chelsea/Flatiron office. (That B&N is no longer there and now replaced by a Trade Joe’s. Our hearts died slowly because we now take longer trips to the Union Square B&N a whole 9 blocks away!) We studied the genre. We learned that my writing was YA. We told me to finish a fucking book already. Said "fucking book already" was started in New York and finished in Montana. A coming of age of an untraditional Ecuadorian girl with pink hair who rebels against her family and Quinceañera (Sweet 15. The brown MTV has a whole show about it now).

We learned that it was funny and everyone love it but no one would offer. We learned that there were “too many books of this sort around.” We learned that “there really isn’t a market for Brown Girl books.” We learned that publishing is fickle and pretty much sucks.

I returned from Montana, after dropping out of college #2. I stopped writing. She kept agenting.
It’s funny, how people say that you need to take a step away from your art and yourself before you can revisit it. It’s funny because it’s true. Maybe not funny in the ha-ha king of way. But certainly in the kind of way that is painful, soul killing, and exhausting.

By that I mean that I went back to school for writing (AGAIN). I learned that writing in college would never be as fulfilling as the workshops I had at the National Book Foundation writing camps (a different story for another time). I learned that I wasn’t writing what I wanted. I learned to work in the New York City nightlife. I learned that I was so consumed with selling a book and finding a market that I wasn’t writing what I loved.

I learned that the selling and market part was Adrienne’s job.

I learned that after much therapy and a partial lobotomy, I would never, ever, get over my love of mermaids. I unleashed my mermaid flag and finished the world that lived in my head since age three, when I was in Ecuador reenacting the Part of Your World scene on my couch.

I dropped out of college #3, despite my mother’s shrill Ecuadorian screams.

I wrote The Vicious Deep. Adrienne sold The Vicious Deep.

Yeah, we make a pretty good team.

Write on like,

Adrienne Rosado of PMA Literary and Film Management represents authors like the wonderful RITA award winner Caridad Ferrer and adult fiction star James Boice.

Zoraida Cordova is celebrating her birthday in South Beach, Florida. She'll get back to writing Book #2 as soon as she's done with this margarita.

P.S. This is the scene I was talking about.


  1. I love that scene! The Little Mermaid is still one of my favorite movies.

  2. Zoraida, fantastic agent story! I love that you stuck to your guns. Can't wait to meet your kick-ass mermaids!

  3. Eee, I love that your agent is also your best friend! Also, you are hilarious. I can't wait to read your book! *toasts with my glass of wine*

  4. I love these stories! Everyone's is so unique--yours made me laugh out loud ("prison inmates and wannabe pimps!"). Can't wait for your book and to someday hear your dulcet tones perform "Part of Your World."