The reason it happened so fast with me was partly luck, partly research. The research was finding the right agent, the luck was in the timing. The agent knew an editor who needed just the kind of novel I was writing to fill an open slot at just the time I was writing the novel.

There were only a couple of other contenders, but I was the only writer who had any sort of publishing history, mainly short stories to national magazines in the same genre the novel was in. The editor was running out of time to fill the slot, the agent knew this (a good agent knows what editors want and when they want it), and that was that.

Had I submitted the novel only a couple of weeks later than I did, that slot almost certainly would have been filled, and who knows what the fate of that first novel would have been?