Name: Charles Orgbon
What you write: Young Adult Memoir
Agent: Moe Ferrara
Why BookEnds?: Moe Ferrara. I know she’s the best person to defend and cheer my writing.
After George Floyd’s death, many allies to the Black Lives Matter Movement imagined ways they could support the Black community. Many of those in publishing acknowledged how white the industry is, and worked to provide opportunities and access for Black creatives. One strategy was opening their Twitter DMs to questions.
I was already queerying MY NAME ISN’T CHARLIE, a young adult memoir about coming of age queer and Black in the South, and had a few questions about different strategies I could take with my writing. I actually DM’d several people. Of those who were most helpful were Moe Ferrara, who ultimately asked me to query her, and Elana Arnold, who helped review my query email.
When I Twitter DM’d Moe, though, I had no intention of queerying her. Her MS Wishlist didn’t even list memoir, and even in her first response she acknowledged that she doesn’t carry memoir. I initially only wanted her perspective, and any literary agent, regardless of their experience with memoir, could have assisted with that. After a few exchanges, what I got was so much more.
She fell in love with the story, and she fell in love with the writing, and because of these two things she was able to step outside her comfort zone a bit and offer representation. Before I got the official “call,” however, she knew that the draft I originally submitted to her was going to need a lot of work, so she first gave me what’s called a revise and resubmit. Up until that point, I had never heard of this, but Elana Arnold and my mentor Laurie Ann Thompson also explained that this is my chance to see what it’s like to work with Moe. I don’t have to take her editorial suggestions, but if I like what she says and equally important how she says it, then this could be promising.
Thankfully I agreed with her editorial suggestions and loved the way with which we carried on with each other. I could talk to her for hours, and she’s someone who I would unwittingly have a drink with. Moe had explained her revise & resubmit was a “forever offer,” also showing how committed she is to this story and the writing. It takes a lot to tell someone, I’ll be just as excited now as I will be in a year. “Take the time you need,” she advised. In the end, it took only two months, and then after her second review, I got the “call.”
Moe had been worried on that initial call if I was talking to other agents, but actually while she was reviewing my edits, I was working on my EP, A Survivor’s Reward, and doing more article writing on Medium publications. I had taken a break from queerying.
It’s been 7 years since my writing began on this manuscript, and 3 years since I began pitching to editors and literary agents.
It feels relieving, inspiring, and affirming to now have a literary home with Moe Ferrara at BookEnds Literary Agency.