How I Found My Agent

Yes, you read the post title right. I have an agent! Not sure I’ll ever get tired of saying that. ūüôā
I love reading “How I found my agent” stories, reading others stories kept me going when I felt like giving up. So I thought I’d share mine since I finally have one to share.

Back in the fall of 2010, I finished writing my first book – a young adult paranormal. Now that I look back on it, it needed SO much work, but I didn’t see that then. As a middle grade librarian, I’m a big fan of Margaret Peterson Haddix so I looked up who represented her — Adams Literary. That was it. That’s who I wanted as my agent. (hee)

Not more than 2 weeks later, I got a post card in the mail about an SCBWI Conference in Pittsburgh where one of the speakers would be Quinlan Lee from Adams Literary. Well, I took this as a sign. I was meant to take my book to Pittsburgh! So my mother-in-law joined me and we drove the 4 hours to the conference where I would have a 15 minute critique on my first five pages from Quinlan (it was kind of a crap shoot on who would critique your first pages, but somehow I ended up with Quinlan.) Ummm… I believed that was sign #2!

She was so sweet¬†and personable. After the¬†15 minutes I was convinced that she was my dream agent and I was meant to be repped by Adams Literary. She told me to take my time and send her the ms¬†when it was¬†ready. But that’s not what my ears heard. You know when you were a kid and you used to play the telephone game where you say one thing, then it gets whispered to like 20 kids and when it gets to the end it’s a totally different thing? Well, that’s kind of what it was like because I heard “I love it, send it to me quickly.”

Poor Quinlan got my first query letter ever. And I’m such an email packrat that I saved it. It’s hideous.¬†It starts with a rhetorical question. Then I tell her it’s 50,918 words. Everything they say NOT to do in your query letter, I did it in that one.¬†A month later I got a very sweet personalized rejection. I was crushed. But I moved on and ended up getting 10 requests out of the 100 queries I sent out for it. They all ultimately ended in rejection and I convinced myself that 100 was the magic number to move on.

I spent the next year writing another novel that I¬†half finished.¬†An old friend (Renee!) contacted me about forming a critique group around the same time¬†I got the idea for THE CHAOS SHELTER. I spent 2012 writing that and put the finishing touches on it during this past¬†Nanowrimo. But right before I finished it I went to another SCBWI conference in Cleveland. I signed up for another agent critique, but not with Quinlan, even though she was going to be there. I didn’t want Quinlan to think I was an Adams Literary¬†groupie or something, following her from city to city. LOL¬†Not to mention it’s been two years and I knew she wouldn’t remember me.

I was wrong. I was leaving the conference after it was over and she stopped me in the hallway when we passed each other. She said “Hi! How are you doing?”.¬†She asked how my kids were doing. We talked for a bit, and then I left. I was kind of floored and majorly impressed.

January 1st came and I sent out my first 15 queries. From almost everything I’ve read, they say your second book almost always gets more requests than the first. Well, in a week I’d gotten back 12 rejections and NO requests. Now, I’m usually one of the happiest people you will ever meet but that depressed me.

I gave up after those 15 queries.
I stopped checking my query email box and I¬†didn’t send out any more. I started to think of ideas for something else I could write instead. It was obvious that this book just wasn’t going to appeal to anyone.

The month of January went by.
Then for some reason I thought to check my query inbox the second week of February. There was an email. It was a full request. WHAT? SERIOUSLY?
And that gave me hope.
That weekend I sent out around 25 queries and the full ms to the requesting agent.
After a few days I had 2 more full requests. Then after a week I heard back from the agent who had sent the first request. She loved it, but had some ideas and wanted to know what I thought about them. I spent all weekend and wrote up my thoughts. She emailed the following¬†Wednesday and asked if we could chat on the phone and ultimately offered representation. I loved her, but with so many queries and some other fulls out there I knew I’d have to at least let others know and give them a chance. I told her I’d let her know in 9 days.

I ended up with 3 offers of representation, more rejections and even more nice notes letting me know they loved the pitch but¬†didn’t have enough time to read or consider it. Remember when they say “Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it?” That was my week.¬†Having to decide¬†tore me up inside. I liked all 3 agents for very different reasons.¬†What it all came down to was my gut. I would’ve been in good hands with whomever I¬†chose but I realized that from the beginning of my¬†journey, my dream has always been to work with Adams Literary. Today Josh Adams became my agent and I couldn’t be happier!

I have two pieces of advice if you’re still agent hunting.
1. Don’t give up!
2. SCBWI Conferences (or any other event where you can network with industry people) are invaluable. Go to every one that you can and don’t be afraid to chat with people! You never know where it may lead.

Here are the final stats for those of you (like me!) who like them:

Total queries sent: 44
Rejections: 26
No response: 8
Full requests: 7
Offers of rep: 3

OK, now for the GOOD STUFF!

Over a month ago I was one of the fastest tweeters to Brenda Drake and won a free pass through the¬†submission window¬†round of her upcoming Pitch Madness contest. Now that I can’t use it,¬†Brenda was sweet enough to let me give it away as a prize on¬†my blog. So if you want to enter Pitch Madness and don’t want to mess with the submission window, etc. just post a comment on this post saying “I won’t give up!” and I’ll draw a random winner¬†for it from everyone who posts their comment before noon on Sunday, March 10.

Thanks for reading my story and good luck! ūüôā