The Day I Got an Agent
I thought it might be fun to kick off my new blog with this particular post. The truth is, this website has been sitting and collecting dust for awhile (not as much dust as my old blog but still). I wanted to launch it once I felt like my writing career was actually "going somewhere," which for me, meant getting a literary agent.
For the record, I can't believe l get to write this post.
I can't believe that it's actually my story.
While I've loved creating stories my whole life, I've been writing seriously for ten years now. During that time, I've written five books. I've had hopes of getting an agent all that time. I've always wanted to pursue the traditional publishing route, which means capturing the heart of the ever-elusive literary agent. But no matter which new book I queried, the rejections kept coming. Even when I got requests from agents to read my manuscript, they always came back with the same response "I like it, but I don't love it."
For those who don't know, wading through the Query Trenches is pure brutality. The statistics on getting an agent are pretty dismal. You really do have to go in with the "Onward and Upward" kind of mentality. Shake off the rejections. Believe in yourself and your characters. Get your booty in the chair and just keep writing.
It's easier said than done.
Some of my writing buddies.
The turning point for me was my fifth book, Dragonboy Blue.
I sent out my first round of queries in the fall of 2019. I got a handful of requests and the usual abundance of rejections. Then something different happened. An agent wanted to contact me to talk about possibly revising my book. We chatted on the phone, and while this wasn't an offer of representation, it was encouraging to know she saw potential.
Then, the very next day, on January 15th, I got the email that changed my life (and no, I'm not just being dramatic, I promise). I got an email from Jordan Hill, assistant to the oober-fabulous literary agent, Joanna Volpe. She said Joanna wanted to set up a call to discuss my book and wondered what my availability was for the following Tuesday.
I nearly lost my ever-loving mind.
FIRST of all, Joanna is what writers call a "Dream Agent". She's brilliant, successful, and an incredibly wonderful human being. Go ahead, Google her. You will quickly discover a list of her awesome clients. The thought that she would like my book was unreal.
SECOND of all, usually when an agent says they want to call you to talk about your book, they're about to offer representation. It's what writers lovingly refer to as The Call.
But you GUYS.
Even though I knew what that email probably meant, I couldn't believe that it was about to happen to me. I guess it was ten years of writerly rejection that made it hard to fathom the Amazing Joanna would actually like my little book.
In preparation of The Call.
So the call was set. I spent the next 6 days in total turmoil. I--with the help of my fantastically creative husband and friends--came up with all kinds of scenarios where the Joanna call was not going to be The Call, but something else entirely.
Maybe she wants to just talk about a revision.
Maybe she wants to set you up with a different agent in her agency.
Maybe your book is SO BAD she wants to tell you directly, that you need to give up on writing altogether.
That last one is my favorite. ;)
So by the time Tuesday arrived, I was a nervous wreck. I'd spent the last week preparing different packets of notes/questions. One packet for if Joanna did in fact offer of representation, and the other packets were for other possible scenarios. I hadn't slept hardly at all the night before because I was so anxious. I'd been sick all weekend. But I figured, even in the worst case scenarios came true, then at least I was getting a chance to talk to an amazing agent about my book.
And then it happened.
My phone rang at 11:01 on January 21st. The call signature read New Leaf Literary.
What I WANTED to say to Jo during the entire phone call.... that wouldn't have been too creepy, right?
And you guys... Joanna was SO lovely to talk to. Very down to earth. And the most amazing thing was she started the conversation by telling me how much she LOVED MY BOOK. She had so many wonderful things to say, that I almost broke down crying. I might have, except I was in total shock.
A few minutes into the call--which was, in fact, The Call--she offered representation!!!!
And through my utter disbelief, we chatted for well over an hour about all of my books, my career goals, and just general getting-to-know-you stuff.
I wanted to accept her offer then and there, but because there were other agents with my book still, I knew it was a professional courtesy to notify them first. So we got off the phone, and I emailed all the other agents, giving them until Friday to read the book and get back to me.
^ Actual footage of me during my phone call with Joanna
By Friday evening I'd heard back from all other agents, so I was finally at liberty to officially accept Joanna's offer!
It was an amazing feeling.
* * Edited to add:
For anyone looking to query literary agents, Query Tracker is a great place to search for agents based on what age category and genre you write.
Also, Manuscript Wish List gives an even more detailed look at what agents are currently looking for.
For tips on writing query letters, go here and here.