How I Got My Agent

I love reading How I Got My Agent posts. Even when, most of the time, it’s the simple equation of polished manuscript + cold querying = the call. No matter how many times I read it, I love it because celebrating someone’s achievement is nice. It’s fun! And it’s a good reminder that it’s possible.

I started writing the manuscript that got me my agent in 2014. Actually, you can see the tweet that started it all:tweet

The next month I started writing and kept writing and, eventually, I finished the first draft. It was an absolute blast to write. It was the second manuscript I’d ever completed and I knew it was promising, but it was messy and meandering and had too much going on. I revised it once myself and it was an improvement, but still not Good.

So, in 2017, I entered Pitch Wars. I was so lucky and to be chosen, and I wrote all about the experience last April; you can read it here. At this time last year I was finishing up my post-Pitch Wars revisions and kept assembling my agent spreadsheet.

I sent my first batch of queries over Memorial Day Weekend 2018. I started with ten, a mix of “oh my god, can you even IMAGINE???” established agents and awesome, promising newer agents. Then I waited.

And waited.

And waited some more. Everyone talks about how publishing is a lot of “hurry up and wait” and they are not wrong. The first two weeks after sending out queries, I got a mix of form rejections and, eventually, a few mostly-form-but-slightly-personalized rejections. A few weeks after I started querying, I got my first partial and full requests, and then nothing for a while longer.

For every request or rejection that came in, another query went out. At times I got impatient and broke that rule, and would have closer to 20 queries and/or submissions out at a time. Through all of this, I was scouring the #MSWL on twitter, browsing through  the Manuscript Wish List website, and keeping an eye out for new agent alerts.

Some rejections came in hours after I sent the query. Some requests came within days. And then there was still nothing I could do but wait. I spent the intervening months alternately checking my inbox, working on a new manuscript, and refreshing QueryTracker. During the wait, I actually finished the first and second drafts of my new manuscript, knowing that if the project I was querying didn’t get me an agent, it would be a good idea to have another project ready to go. But mostly I waited.

I waited so much, y’all. And it was worth it! Because there were a few queries that went out in that first batch that did indeed turn into full requests many, many months later!

The vast majority of agents who requested my full were gracious enough to give me feedback, but it all felt just broad enough that I still didn’t know how to fix the problem areas. Early on, I tried to make an adjustment and it was a good adjustment! But I didn’t dig deep enough.

And then. And then! I got a lovely email from an agent asking if my manuscript was still available and if I would be willing to hop on the phone. YES! I replied. Yes it is, and yes I am! 

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It is important to me that you know that email came in at 4:46pm on a Tuesday and I continued to spend the remaining 14 minutes of my shift at work freaking out and processing no information. I did, however, manage to forward the email to my best friend with no other context than this:

ah

So we set up a call for the following Monday and the wait was interminable but I did spend the time researching and typing up four pages of questions to ask on The Call. (I was very generous with the spacing so that I could take notes. I’m not a monster that planned to ask 237 single-spaced questions. (I am so sorry if that’s you, you’re not a monster, you’re just prepared.)) When we did actually chat–at 9:30am because I didn’t have to work until noon that day–it was lovely. I was so impressed and flattered and excited. Her vision was totally in line with mine for the manuscript, her notes were spot-on, and we really seemed to click. So I was PUMPED when the call included an offer of representation.

Then I did the responsible thing, and told her “Thank you so much, but I need two weeks to notify everyone that still has my full/partial/query” which at that point was not very many people, because, again, I had been querying for 11 months.

That’s right. I started querying May 26, 2018 and I had The Call on April 22, 2019. I moved cross-country in the interim!

I’m telling you, so. much. waiting.

And, sure, maybe I could have just thrown out all of my queries into the trenches at once, but I didn’t want to and I’m glad that I didn’t. Not doing so gave me a) the time to make adjustments to my manuscript if I wanted to before every agent I considered had seen it, and b) the ability to continue to query newer agents, and those who had been closed when I started querying.

The intervening two weeks resulted in some extremely lovely rejections and step-asides that I will be thinking about for years to come. Honestly. Agents are so awesome. They get inundated with SO MUCH STUFF but still find the time to reply and be nice and, just. Yes. Love it. Love them. I also did my due diligence and emailed the offering agent’s clients and grilled them with questions about what it was like to work with her and every single response was glowing and made me want to sign with her that much more.

All of this is to say, that I’m ecstatic to be represented by Tia Mele at Talcott Notch Literary. I really trust her vision for my work and can’t wait to build our partnership together.

For the curious:

Queries sent: 90
Full requests (including partial upgrades): 19
Partial requests: 2
Rejections: 64
CNR: 25

2 thoughts on “How I Got My Agent

  1. Great post and congrats on your success! I’m in the querying phase myself and it’s soul crushing. I think I’ve sent out 30-ish and got maybe 15-ish specific rejections.
    I’ll definitely check out that #MWL tag!

    • Molly the Ghost says:

      Thank you! It’s so hard, but stick with it! Specific rejections are a great sign. Try to distract yourself with a new project if you can. Good luck!

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