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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

 

2 thoughts on “How I found my agent”

    1. Hi Cassandra – Thank you! I used my CP to discuss the plot and identify plot holes once I outlined. I actually didn’t have her review the finished MS (mostly bc she was in the middle of Pitch Wars and unable to work on it, so timing was really bad). My revision process is multiple rounds with each focused on a different element (plot, pacing, dialogue, etc.) before sending to CPs for review. Typically, a CP would help me refine sections to clarify meaning or show/tell or not enough/too much exposition. For my third MS, I did four rounds myself before querying. Please take all of this with a grain of salt. I find revision process is less important for me than my outlining process. And each time I revise a MS, it gets easier and faster. The best revision advice I got was to read the MS aloud. You’d be surprised how much more you find. Good luck!

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