Monday, September 15, 2008

Finding the RIGHT Agent

My agent call story is a little different than the other girls here at The Novel Girls (at least, I’m assuming), because I had an offer for my book from my publisher before I had an agent. I’d begun my agent search right after A Taste of Magic was complete, and because I’m an Internet junkie, I did a lot of research. A lot.

I read agent blogs. I looked up information about agents. I read authors blogs to see what they said about their agents. I talked to my writer friends about their agents. And then I researched some more. So I figured I had it all together. I began sending out queries, and received many requests for partials, some for fulls, and of course, plenty of rejections.

The rejection pile grew bigger pretty fast, because while I received lots of compliments on my writing, the story didn’t seem big enough, marketable enough, to many of the agents who’d read the material. Others didn’t like the first person perspective, and others thought the story too light for their tastes. And of course, in the mix of all the great personal rejections were the form rejection that really didn’t tell me anything.

So, at the same time this was happening, I attended a conference and pitched my book to Senior Editor Chris Keeslar from Dorchester Publishing. I’m not that great at pitches, so I’m still not sure what he heard that intrigued him, but he did ask for the partial. But, I didn’t send it in right away, because—well, I was looking for an agent.

A few months passed, along with more requests and more rejections. I didn’t get that depressed about the rejections until one in particular came in, and this specific one hit me hard.

The agent wrote me a letter that was more about what she loved about the book and less about why it was being rejected. It made me wonder if good writing wasn’t enough. If good storytelling wasn’t enough. It made me doubt my talent and my story.

Now understand, this wasn’t the agent’s fault—or the rejection itself—it was a combination of reading the same type of comments over and over. It’s one thing when you’re told the story needs this, or it needs that, but what I was hearing was “This is great! I love your writing! You’re superb at characterization! But I don’t think it will sell in today’s market, so I have to pass.”

Then, I received a phone call from the contest coordinator of a contest I’d entered. A Taste of Magic was a finalist in their contest, and the scene I finaled with was being sent to—Chris Keeslar at Dorchester Publishing. Yep, the very same editor who’d requested the partial I’d yet to send in. So I sent it in. Pretty much right away! No one ever said I wasn’t smart, lol.

There were still several agents who had my material I hadn’t heard back from, and one of them in particular I was really jazzed about. I’d submitted to her before, and had always received rejections back, but this story was different than anything I’d written before—so I hoped, and hoped, and hoped she’d want to take me on.

In addition, there was another agent who I’d never submitted to before, but had heard great things about, and I was also pretty hopeful about her. She has a blog, which I read often, and I liked what she had to say. So I kept my fingers crossed.

About two weeks after I mailed in the partial to Dorchester, they sent me a letter asking me for the full manuscript. I was on cloud nine! But then, you know, time passed (a lot of time) and I quit hearing from anyone. Agents still had my work, Chris still had the full, and I was busy working on another book.

Fast forward many months and on May 1, 2008, Chris called me. He wanted to buy my book. I was amazed, excited, in disbelief, and pretty much mumbled like an idiot. Luckily, he took my mumblings in stride, and we agreed I’d get back to him in a few days, after I contacted the agents who still had the book under submission.

Long story short (I know, too late!), I ended up with two offers of representation from two smart, savvy, and reputable agents. My choice was to accept the offer from Michelle Grajkowski at Three Seas Literary, and I haven’t looked back once. Our partnership has been terrific so far, and I know it will only get better.

And I learned that while the research I did was smart, because I learned a lot, what it came down to—for me—was trusting my instincts. In doing so, I ended up with the right agent for me. And I couldn’t be happier!

Now, for a little humor, check out this video my fellow Dorchester author, Christie Craig, put together with her friends and a few agents. It’s awesome!


Lesley Livingston said...


The process never goes how you think it will, does it?

Maureen Lipinski said...

The more stories I hear about how authors got their agents, the more convinced I am that no one's journey to publication is the same--not even close!

Jillian Cantor said...

Great story! I know how hard that rejection can be sometimes, especially the kind that makes you feel like your book is never going to sell!! Hooray to you for keeping at it :-).

Tracy Madison said...

Lesley: Nope, never, ever. LOL.

Maureen: Every journey is different. I learned that a long time ago, but I have to believe that things happen as they're supposed to. So, with that in mind, I wouldn't have my journey be anything different than what it is. :)

Jillian: It wasn't so much keeping at it as it was I kept writing and just let whatever was going to happen, happen.

Lisa Patton said...

Tracy, You're right - that video is hilarious! Thank you for posting. I so relate to your post and can't wait to meet you!

Lisa Patton said...

Tracy, You're right - that video is hilarious! Thank you for posting. I so relate to your post and can't wait to meet you!

Tracy Madison said...

Lisa: I know we're going to hit it off when we do meet. How do I know this? LOL--my first ever best friend was named Lisa. And then, years later, I met another Lisa, who is now my sister of my heart. Hm, something about the name Lisa maybe? :)

lisapatton said...

Tracy, So glad to be one of the Lisas in your life!