The Strange Case of the Missing Gary

In case you haven't heard the screams of joy emanating from my house, be it known the following message is up on Publishers Marketplace:

Gary Corby's THE EPHIALTES AFFAIR, set in Periclean Athens, to Keith Kahla at Minotaur, with Kathleen Conn editing, in a nice deal, for publication in Fall 2010, by Janet Reid at FinePrint Literary Management (world).

Which means, come September/October next year, you'll be able to read the book!

Alright, it's not exactly like that on Publishers Marketplace. I colored in the names and the pub date. So far I have resisted printing it off, covering it in fairy sparkles, and hugging it in bed at night.

This almost didn't happen.

When I started querying agents in the US, I did my research like a good boy, and came across someone called Janet Reid.

Here was a successful, established literary agent in New York who loved mysteries. She sounded just wonderful for me, so clearly this was never going to fly. I didn't have that kind of luck.

To start with, a manuscript assessor I'd talked to had told me the chances of getting anywhere in the highly competitive New York market was indistinguishable from zero. Secondly, all the advice I'd read said new writers should look for new agents, still trying to build up their lists. So, a great agent with an established list in NY? Not a hope in Hades. Obviously. Nevertheless, if you don't try you certainly won't succeed, so Janet went on my query list. Out went the queries.

Then it occurred to me to move my web site (the one you're reading) from Sydney to the US, to save most of my readers that extra half second of pageload time. It was hardly important, but it was simple to do. I thought.

The web host tranferred the site, turning back on an old security certificate which I had turned off months before. I was now the only person on the planet who could see my web site, because I was the only one with that old certificate loaded. But I didn't know that, because the only computer I used to check the web site was my own. Because I am an idiot.

My email accounts hadn't been transferred with the server. But I didn't know that because I didn't check email after the transfer. Because I am an idiot.

Life went on. I hadn't received any email, but that was no surprise because I was only using that address for writing, I'd only sent the queries a week ago, and no agent was going to respond within a week.

Except Janet.

A week after sending the queries, close to midnight, my wife Helen was cleaning out an old online email account which we use as a spam catcher. Everyone has an account like that; the one you enter for web sites and business where you don't trust them not to spam you, or sell your address. Helen had her finger poised over the delete button to erase hundreds of spam, when she said, "There's an email here that looks real."

It was real. This is what it said:

you queried me.
I wanted to read more!
Your email bounced, your website is closed.

I resorted to posting on my blog and some folks found this email attached to your old website.

Get in touch if you'd still like me to read the pages!

Janet Reid

This was weird. I checked my web site, and it was up just fine. My wife checked it from her PC. It was inaccessible. Uh oh. After some fiddling I work out what's gone wrong.

But that's only the web site. Email should still be working, shouldn't it? I check the email accounts. They're kaput. Worse than kaput, they're non-existent.

I found Janet's blog, and there I read:

Gary Corby, where are you?

Your email bounced back.
Your website is gone.

I want to read pages.
You're making it hard to do so!

Last chance!

The time required to move from normal body state to near heart attack is approximately two seconds, as I learned at that moment. Eight people have been trying to track me down. The comment from Travis Erwin is spot on: "Gary, I hope you are reading and realize this is definitely going above and beyond." Yep. Sha'el, Princess of Pixies found the old email account Janet had used to send me that email.

By 2 am I'd fixed the web site and had the email accounts back and working, and tested. Then I sent Janet a groveling apology. Then I hopped on to Janet's blog and thanked all those nice people looking for me, and there was much rejoicing and mirth at my discovery.

This is certainly a novel and interesting way to call attention to yourself. It's worked out brilliantly for me, but if you're thinking of doing the same thing to differentiate yourself, I wouldn't recommend it.


D.A. Riser said...

Hi Gary,

That's a humorous story on your blog with a very nice ending. I read Janet's recounting of it this past week.

I can't recall if I've posted on your site before or not, but I enjoy the Greek tidbits and have you on Google Reader.

I look forward to reading your book when it comes out. Good luck!

Travis Erwin said...

What a sweet ending. looking forward to reading and congrats to both you and Janet for finding each other.

Sherri said...

It was meant to be. Obviously. I hope I have a similar "meant to be" story to tell one day soon.

A thousand congratulations on your book deal!

Janet Reid said...

I love this story, I do!
I love my job!

I love my blog readers who think this kind of thing is fun!

Shadows said...

It was fate. You're going to be published, and you're going to write your heart's desires. I'm looking forward to a damn good guy on the shelf. I will be reading you.

Your joy is my own at this tender stage. I wish you the best.


Carolyn said...

Your story certainly is one of the more heart pounding ones out there. It was fun to read your version of events, too.

Congrats on the sale. Your book sounds wonderful!

Merry Monteleone said...


This is so fabulous to me... I was reading Janet's blog when the search for you started... and have been checking in here on occasion since (sorry, I lurk, but I do love your writing). Can't wait to read it when it comes out!

Hebe said...

Such a happy ending. I read about it on Janet's blog but it was great to read the whole story. I belong to a greek classics group and you can guess what my next recommendation will be. Thank God your book is coming out soon, if we do Herodotus again I will throw-up.

Mimzy said...


Be sure to post when pre-orders can be taken! Your blog is so fascinating that I must buy your book to see more!

Mimzy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anthony said...

Okay, that is all funny in a good way.

Alex Moore said...

delightful story -- made me laugh, then read aloud to the hubby. glad i read anthony's post & followed his advice to check you out! great blog!

and after reading all the #queryfail tweets today, i'm thinking you really are a hero!

Gary Corby said...

Thanks everyone for your kind wishes, and to Anthony for his very complimentary blog post on his own site!

Hebe, I'm not sure Fall next year counts as coming out soon, but being chosen by a reading group is music to a debut author's ears. If you like, I'd love to do a remote talk with the group after you've read it, if only to find out what real people think of the book!

Barrie said...

This is a fantastic pub story. CONGRATULATIONS!! I'm looking forward to reading your mystery.

laughingwolf said...

grats, gary! :D

Peter said...

Wow! That is the most amazing story I've ever heard! I hope we all have such luck! :)