Squee! That’s right, it’s the post I’ve been hoping to write since I started this whole writing journey! How I got my agent!
Rewind to just over a year ago. May 9th, 2014, to be exact. I’d already been querying my MG Fantasy, SHADOWCATCHERS, for about a year. I had entered contests, bought agent critiques, and re-written the ms at least three times (probably more). Thanks to feedback from some generous rejecting agents, and help from my critique group, I’d just done a complete, gut-wrenching tear-down and re-write, and that day I sent out a new batch of queries for my shiny new version.
Then I waited. And waited.
And, while I was waiting, I had my stupid accident, where I hit my head and got my concussion (for the whole boring, embarrassing story of how that happened, click here.) I came home from the hospital with the concussion diagnosis where I’d been told to stay off the computer, and went to bed with a screaming migraine. I was only in bed a few minutes before my husband came up to tell me I’d just got a partial request. (I’d given him permission to check my email, since I wasn’t able.) Squee! This was exciting. My new version was working! Someone liked it! So, I dictated an email response to my fabulously helpful husband, squinted through a very fuzzy proof-read, and sent off the requested 50 pages.
And I waited. And waited.
A rejection came in from that same batch, and another full request. I also sent out a few picture book queries through 12×12, but I wasn’t really paying attention. I was too busy dealing with headaches and migraines, and sleeping as many hours a day as I could squeeze in with three kids under 5.
Flash forward to February of this year. My headaches were under control. I was finally able to go on the computer for a few minutes at a time. I re-started my blog. I also took a look at my querying records and decided 8 months was probably a decent time to follow-up on that 50-page request. So I sent out a polite nudge asking if the agent had had a chance to look at it. Almost immediately my inbox pinged with a new message. It was one of the 12×12 agents, telling me how much she liked the PB I sent her, and asking about other work! Double squee!
So I sent her an email with a blurb for two other PB projects, and my MG, explaining that she had rejected an earlier version of the MG the previous year. While I was waiting for her response, I heard back from Agent #1, who apologized for losing track of the partial, and promised to get back to me ASAP.
The next day, Agent #2 requested one of the other PBs.
The day after that, Agent #1 requested the full of SHADOWCATCHERS.
Cue more waiting. Nail biting. Consumption of massive amounts of chocolate.
At about the three week mark, Agent #1 sent a quick email to check in, telling me she liked my ms and the world, but needed a bit more time to make a decision. She also admitted to doing some light internet stalking of me (:D) and asked about other agents with my work. I told her about Agent #2, and she requested my PBs as well.
More waiting. More chocolate. Maybe even a glass or two of Bailey’s.
Three days later, Agent # 1 emailed again. She liked SHADOWCATCHERS, thought it was original, and marketable…and that it needed work. She gave me a slew of notes and offered to chat with me on the phone and talk me through them, if I was willing to revise and resubmit to her (with a short-term exclusive for the revised version – totally fair).
I read through the notes, and found I was nodding along with each one. Everything she said made complete sense. So I emailed her back and agreed to the re-write. I took a few days to ponder over her notes, and then we spoke on the phone. She was really nice, she practically gushed about my story – which made me feel awesome – and we discussed ways to improve it. Then I embarked on my epic revision (you can read about that here, here, and here).
The only bad thing about Agent #1 (or, at least, confusing thing) was that she didn’t like the PB that Agent #2 had loved. So, I had one agent that liked my MG, but not my PB, and another that liked my PB and not my MG. (This is why they tell you not to query multiple works, by the way. It’s very confusing.) The whole time I was revising, I was praying Agent #2 wouldn’t respond, so I wouldn’t have to make my choice too early. I think it’s the only time I’ve ever hoped to NOT hear back from an agent.
I hit stumbling blocks a few times during the revision process, and each time Agent #1 came to the rescue with advice and thoughts via email. She was a great sounding board, and steered me toward some excellent resources.
Finally, on April 29, I sent Agent #1 the new version.
More waiting, chocolate, and general crazy-going.
Until May 5th. That’s when Agent #1 emailed to say she loved it and wanted to work with me! We set up a phone call, during which I asked none of the “Questions to Ask a Literary Agent Before You Sign” – mostly because I’d already done a ton of research on her before agreeing to the re-write. I accepted, and sent Agent #2 a polite note withdrawing my PBs and explaining I’d signed with another agent. Because, after all the advice, the work, and the knowledge Agent #1 had shared, I already knew she was the agent for me.
And how did I celebrate, you ask? With this appropriate little gem I’ve been saving just for this occasion:
That’s right, a camel’s milk chocolate bar (SHADOWCATCHERS takes place in an ancient desert land). To be honest, it kind of just tasted like regular milk chocolate, which is pretty impressive considering how long I’d held onto it.
So there you have it. My almost year-in-the-making story of how I got my agent.
For those of you who like stats, here’s the SHADOWCATCHERS breakdown:
33 Queries Sent
13 No Responses
4 Partial Requests
7 Full Requests
1 Awesome Agent