How I found my agent

As I announced earlier in the week, I am now represented by Tess Callero of Curtis Brown! I wanted to post my path to getting an agent because stories like mine where success didn’t come overnight really helped me in the query trenches. If you’re there, I hope this helps you. Hang in there.

Ok, story time 🙂

The book that landed me an agent was the third one I wrote, and my agent Tess found my project in her slush. It was a partial request that turned into a full request and then turned into an offer. From the time I sent my initial query to when I got my offer was about eight weeks.

I actually ended up with three offers. Let me say that I never expected to be in a situation where multiple agents wanted to work with me. I’d heard about it happening to other writers, but it was something that felt so far away from my reality that they might as well have been talking about multiple unicorn sightings.

The agents who offered were incredibly kind and had unique takes on the direction of the story and how they’d position it to editors. At the end of the day, after multiple phone calls and emails, I felt that my connection with Tess and her passion for my project made my decision for me. I couldn’t be more thrilled to work with her.

That seems so straightforward, right? It was. But I’d like to talk about my other projects–the ones that didn’t get me an agent. It’s hard for me to share something I’ve kept to myself for so long. Bear with me.

My first novel was written during NaNoWriMo several years ago. It was the absolute worst. I outlined, I wrote, and I revised. That should have been enough in my mind, but that manuscript was riddled with every mistake I now know not to make. Introspective infodump beginning? Check. Overwritten prose? Oh yeah. I queried that project for around three months to many agents and I got zero requests. It was a hard lesson, but I’m the kind of person who usually learns things the hard way.

My second novel, a commercial women’s fiction project, was much better. I took everything I learned from my first manuscript and wrote a cleaner, tighter draft. I found CPs who helped me strengthen my plot and learned how my in-depth knowledge of a character and their motivation needs to come through in just the right places. I revised and revised and revised. I queried, participated in #pitmad, and ended up with eleven requests from agents. My hopes were sky high, y’all. But in the end, no offers. I’m a practical person, and I loved my project so I decided to reach out to smaller pubs and see if there was any interest. And, to my surprise, a small press offered to publish it. I was delighted to work with a professional editor and have my novel published. I was going to be an author! My second book is currently in the hands of the head editor at the publisher and will be going on the production schedule soon. The experience has been wonderful, and I’m so happy that my book is going to be out in the world.

When I wrote my third book, a YA suspense project, I wanted to go back out and land an agent. I read more craft books and tried a new outlining technique, which really worked for me. I vetted the idea with my CP to make sure it had some legs. I worked my butt off. The story for finding my agent is like so many others, but I wanted to share that it wasn’t my first or even my second try. I learned a lot along the way and there is so much more for me to learn. And, third time really is the charm 🙂


Write what you love

I’ve written three books. Three. It’s crazy because I distinctly remember thinking that completing just one book was an impossible feat. It wasn’t. I did a thing a lot of people dream about doing. Three times! (Hooray for recognizing the victories that keep you going when things are hard.)

My third book is a YA suspense. I love YA and honestly it’s what I read the most of. But I was afraid to write it. It took two other books before I felt like I could. If you read my other post, you know that for some reason there is a lot of stigma surrounding YA writers. There are tons of adults who read and love YA, but there are also lots of people who think it’s childish for a grown woman to fangirl over YA books. It can be hard to open yourself up to the judgement of others by doing something you know people will criticize you for. Haters gonna hate though, right? Right.

I also had a friend’s significant other say something along the lines of “Oh, is it YA?” in a very sarcastic voice when I was discussing my second novel (commercial women’s fiction). At the time, I was happy I could say that it wasn’t just out of pure spite. Then I felt gross for feeling happy. The implication that any project is somehow less for being YA is ridiculous. I wish I was braver at the time to say that. I promise to be so in the future.

In fact, I hope I can get my third novel published just so I can go back to that guy and tell him that my project–the one that has brought me so much joy for writing it–is a young adult novel. I know. Again with the spite. (I might also do a happy dance/booty shake in front of him just so he knows where he stands.)

I hope anyone out there who is keeping quiet about a project because they’re afraid of what their casual acquaintances (and it’s ALWAYS them and not the people who know and love you best) might think knows that I was there too. Let them have their hate and petty comments. You get to keep the love you have for your projects, and that’s a much bigger prize.