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.

2 comments:

  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!

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  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.

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