Things are looking up for the book. I’ve got a new agent, the wonderful Victoria Skurnick, of the Levine Greenberg Literary Agency. She’s had a ton of success with thrillers lately. One of her thriller authors, Harry Dolan, got a great blurb from Stephen King. Here’s the story of how it happened:
The way blurbs normally work is this: Months before publication, your agent or your publisher sends the manuscript to an author with a cover letter asking if they’ll read it and consider writing a blurb. I’m lucky to have an excellent publisher and an excellent agent, and they were able to get jacket blurbs from some big names: Nelson DeMille, Douglas Preston, James Patterson, and Karin Slaughter.
But that’s not how we got Stephen King.
As far as I know (and I could be wrong about this), Stephen King discovered Bad Things Happen on his own. The book was published in July 2009, and I didn’t hear from him until November. I found out he was reading the book because my agent knows everybody, and she happens to be a friend of Stephen King’s publisher. The story I heard was this: King’s publisher paid him a visit during his book tour for Under the Dome. She dropped in on him in his hotel room and he said something like, “Wait right here, I’ve got to read you something” — and then he went and got his copy of Bad Things Happen and read her a passage from it. (I don’t know which passage it was; I wish I knew.) His publisher passed this anecdote along to my agent, and my agent (who wasn’t about to pass up the opportunity) said that we’d love to have a blurb if he was willing. About a week later I got an email from the man himself, which began with “Great f—-ing book, man” and went on from there.
And here, Robert Rotenberg describes how he hooked up with Victoria:
My first book was good enough to get me an agent in New York. But not good enough to sell. I immediately started Old City Hall. It was 2001. By 2004 I’d hit a wall, with the book half done. I took a nine-day writing course at Humber College and worked with two talented writers, David Bezmozgis and Michelle Berry, who were most generous with their time. I finished the book in April 2007. Doug read it and, determined to hook me up with a top agent, introduced me to Victoria Skurnick at Levine Greenberg Literary Agency. Victoria read the book overnight, and the next day signed me up. Magic.
Victoria is a wonder. Within weeks she’d drummed up a major bidding war for the book in New York. I signed a two-book hardcover deal with the talented editor Sarah Crichton at Sarah Crichton Books/Farrar Straus & Giroux. Now we have sales in all sorts of foreign languages, including French, Italian, German, Spanish, Italian and Japanese, and an audio book deal.