Agent Jim (AJ) is all set to submit to ten editors (on a still-evolving list) starting on Monday!!!! (That list will include an editor I worked with during the second-draft stage back in fall of aught-seven who specifically asked me to have him send it to her!)
AJ and I spoke for about fifteen minutes this morning. He says he's really excited to share this story and to let these editors meet my characters. And he is very pleased with the revisions--all the changes I made were exactly what he'd hoped to see. He's already spoken with several editors about it, and says he will be talking it up more before next week. So, it's all very positive, good news moving forward right now. Which, I imagine is to be expected at this stage.
One thing I asked about is the fact that it is obvious from my name that I am a female and my character is a male. I don't want to be some dorky dork all harping and stressing over insignificant things, but I have definitely run into problems (or perceived problems) with this during the life of this story. I had a writing instructor read my first two chapters and tell me to switch to Rosetta's POV because "it's just too hard for a woman to pull this off." I had an agent say that she couldn't put her finger on why the story didn't hold her attention, but she thought maybe it had to do with "the gender disconnect between author and character." If they'd thought my name was, like, Michael Scott or something, would they have said those things? There is no way of knowing, but I suspect not.
I have tried not to make my gender an issue (except when I bitch about other people doing so, I guess), but I do think it's important. Kristin Nelson wrote a blog post recently in which she states that she feels certain literary projects would have sold if the author had been male instead of female. That's for literary, not YA. But I have never seen a first-time YA novelist who has published under their real first name when the MC's gender is different from their own. (If there is someone out there, please tell me! I really want to know!)
AJ doesn't feel like this is something to worry about right now. It's mostly just a marketing issue. I do know that. I just don't like the idea of editors not liking/connecting with Seth because my name is Mindi. Getting published is hard enough with having extra obstacles like this, right? But he is confident that it won't be an issue, so I'm going to try to have faith that he's right.
Submissions can take anywhere between two days and a year, he said. During the wait, he will update me only on a need-to-know basis unless I specifically request that he tell me about each and every response as it comes in. For now, his plan sounds good to me. I'm kind of relieved about this being fully in someone else's hands.
We'll see how long this feeling lasts...