Wednesday, February 10, 2021

How I Got My Agent

So, truth. I wrote this post a long time ago (over a year ago, to be exact). I'm not sure why I never published it?? But I do still want to share my How I Got My Agent story, even though I've had an agent for almost two years now. Hopefully, my story will help someone who is currently in the query trenches. Here is the original post...

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For a while there, I didn't think I'd ever get the chance to write a post like this, so, of course, I'm over-the-moon excited to share that...


I'M REPRESENTED BY THE AMAZING MARLO BERLINER WITH THE JENNIFER DE CHIARA LITERARY AGENCY (otherwise known as JDLA)!!


When I first started querying years ago, I would scour the internet for the How I Got My Agent stories and I would soak them in. I would read example queries of those that "worked" and later on developed my own How I Got My Agent series on my blog. But that was a long time ago.

Since I loved reading those stories, I'm hoping there will be others who'll benefit from hearing my story, even if it's to convince them TO NEVER GIVE UP!!! So first, I have to tell you my story, and to do so, I have to start at the beginning.

So, here goes...

As most of you know, I published my first books, The Deception Game series, through a smaller press called Clean Teen Publishing. They've been absolutely wonderful. But in between writing, publishing, and marketing my near-future thrillers, I kept writing, switching genres to YA contemporary which is really and truly my first love. I finished ATWTSY (which is an abbreviation—not ready to share the title yet!) around May 2017. It was right before Pitch Wars started, and since I was a mentor, all of my time and energy was consumed by the contest. I loved every minute, but by the time the agent round was finished in October, I hadn't looked at my own manuscript in months. I started revising again in January or February, sent it to my critique partners in March or April and started querying in June. I sent the queries out in batches.

I immediately got lots of requests, mostly because I targeted agents who'd had other manuscripts of mine and who'd indicated they wanted to see more of my work. I was feeling really great about this new MS. I had a trip to Italy with my husband planned for July 2018, so I put my MS on the back burner and stopped querying for the rest of the summer. More requests (and rejections!) rolled in, but once October hit, I decided to send out another big batch of queries. I waited a while and then sent out what I thought would be my final batch of queries in January 2019.

Friends of mine had told me that I shouldn't stop querying until I hit the 100 query mark. That seemed like SO many to me. Too many. In the past, I never came close to that number before I threw in the towel and decided to focus on the next manuscript, then the next. But this time, THIS TIME, I knew I had to hit 100 before I could fully say that I'd given it my all. I believed in my story, and I was determined to not give up until I found the right agent for it.

In January, I formulated my list of agents I wanted to submit to. I discovered Marlo was a new agent, and when I realized I'd "met" her at the RT Booklovers Convention in Atlanta a couple years before, I knew I needed to query her. We had something in common, and I really felt good about sending her a query. She requested the full manuscript fairly quickly, which, of course, I was excited about. Then on a random day in February, I received the email I'd been waiting for. It was an offer of representation, but it wasn't from Marlo, it was from another agent. We set up a time to talk and then I quickly set out to notify all of the agents who either had the full or partial or who I'd recently queried (and since I'd just sent a big batch, it was quite a few agents). Some agents requested the full immediately and asked for time to read, and others politely stepped aside, even agents who'd had my full manuscript since the fall.

Marlo was one of the agents who said she was reviewing it quickly and would get back to me by my deadline. And she did! I was sick at the time with a horrible head cold, and I'll never forget the email I received one chilly Saturday morning from Marlo. It said she'd finished my manuscript and was hoping we could talk on the phone. I think I probably jumped out of bed (yes, it was one of those sicknesses where all I wanted to do was stay in bed!) and screamed a few times before responding to the email. We set up the call for a couple hours later. Turns out, she was sick with a cold also so I didn't feel so bad about my hoarse voice! Lol.

From the moment we started talking on the phone, I could tell Marlo really GOT my book. I could feel her passion for my project, and it almost brought me to tears. After years of rejection, I'd finally found an agent who loved my book as much as I did. She understood the characters and their motivations, and her ideas on how to improve it were spot on. I really felt like my book would be in good hands with her as my agent. I happily accepted her offer once my deadline had passed. The hardest part was having to tell the other agent that I'd decided to go with someone else. For the first time ever, it was my turn to reject, and it didn't feel so great.

Working with Marlo has been awesome, and I'm so excited to see where this journey takes us!

So if you take away anything from this post, let it be this: Don't give up. Don't you EVER give up. If you have a dream, and you believe in yourself 100%, then it will happen. Keep writing, keep reading, keep learning, and keep growing. There's an agent/publisher out there for you.



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  2. Now you know why they say query a hundred - good thing you did!

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