Tuesday, July 5, 2011

How I Found My Agent or It's Not Just An Adventure, It's a Job

While I was writing and polishing up my manuscript for my upcoming book, AURACLE, I spent months lurking on literary agent blogs, studying the Writer’s Digest Guide to Literary Agents, and cross checking names and addresses with Agent Query and Publishers Marketplace. Once I had (what I was certain was) a polished manuscript, I compiled a list of agents who accepted YA lit, specifically paranormal romance, and I decided to start with the biggest agency I knew of. Following their specific guidelines, I typed up my query and dropped it nervously into the mailbox. Notice I said query, not queries. Yes, really. The agent's profile said her response time was three weeks and I wasn't sure if multiple submissions were frowned upon, so I figured I'd just wait until I heard back either way. I mailed that query sometime in mid-May a couple of years back, then I sat back and waited. And waited. And waited.

Okay, you can stop laughing now. By early July, I realized just how ridiculously naïve I was. In my defense, I knew nobody in the publishing industry, I knew no authors to point me in the right direction, and I relied on books, blogs and websites to figure out the complex and ever-changing world of publishing.

By mid-July, I finally figured out it’s common to submit multiple queries to agents, so I set my goal for five queries a week, each one tailored specifically to an individual agent who I took the time to Google and learn as much about as possible. Some wanted to see the first five pages of my manuscript, some wanted a synopsis, some just wanted a brilliantly written letter. Every single query I sent was different, and some days, it would take me several hours by the time I had researched and queried an agent. I realized this was not just an adventure, it was a full-time job, and if I was serious about finding an agent, I would put in the time and do this right.

It wasn’t long before I received a request for a full manuscript from Andrea Somberg of Harvey Klinger, Inc. Of course, I was thrilled and immediately sent my full manuscript to her, but then I received a request for the first 50 pages from another agent. This would have been a great problem to have, except the second agent’s request was contingent on an exclusive for 30 days while she looked it over. I emailed her and explained that the manuscript was already out to another agent, but if she’d still like to look at the first 50 pages, I wouldn’t send it to anyone else for the time specified. She agreed.

During those 30 days, Andrea and I had a few conversations about how the plot and character arc could be improved, and Andrea offered to work with me to polish it up. I ended up emailing the second agent to thank her for considering my work and explained that I was working with another agent. It was a leap of faith since Andrea had not officially offered me representation at that point, but I loved her suggestions and decided to trust my instinct that everything would work out.

I’m glad I did. After several revisions, Andrea offered me representation, and she’s since found AURACLE the perfect home with Katherine Jacobs at Roaring Brook Press. AURACLE will be released in August 2012.


  1. Seriously? Just one query at a time? I can't believe anyone would be THAT naive! Ok, ok I was nodding all the way through this post, remembering those early days.

    I still have my chart of agents queried and responses received (still waiting for responses on queries sent over a year ago!) Glad it doesn't matter anymore!

  2. Congrats on your book debut! Professional, conscientious querying - time consuming, but so necessary and appreciated by agents. Andrea was the judge for a RWA contest I recently won, and I'm hoping to hear more from her soon - thanks for sharing your experience working with her.