How I Got My Agent, Part 1

Okay, so details (by popular demand. Okay, two friends asked me to do this. And they’re very popular).

Everything you ever wanted to know about my finding-an-agent story, and probably a few things you care nothing about. (I’m stretching it out because I love reading long “How I Got My Agent” posts. I could just live in ’em.)

The tall iced decaf caramel macchiato I was sipping while I checked my email on that fateful day.

First, this is not my first completed novel, nor my second. It is my third. And I half-heartedly queried the first two manuscripts. No, that’s not true. I zealously queried the first and suffered roughly ten rejections, all of which, if they said anything helpful at all, said, “This premise is overdone.” So I scrapped that book. The second manuscript garnered a couple of partial requests, and I started dreaming of how I’d want to look in my author cameo in the movie version of the book. (Especially in light of the fact that the advance from selling the book would be enough to hire ten personal trainers and I’d not only be twenty pounds lighter but also super-toned.)

Alas, no.

So it was with excitement, yes, but a heavy dose of cynicism that I started querying in December. At the urging of my (fabulous – she made me say that but it’s totally deserved) friend Kristen, I entered the Baker’s Dozen contest on Miss Snark’s First Victim’s blog. My excerpt received a full request, and a few other agents were interested, so that jump-started the query process (and smothered some of my cynicism). Two friends referred me to their agents as well. None of that panned out, and I was very sad, but I kept querying. I got a few more full & partial requests, but no takers.

I considered the very short nuggets of feedback a couple of agents gave me, especially in two areas: plot & pacing. I revised the first half of the second act of my book (eternal thanks to Katherine Longshore for the marathon brainstorming session), took out a subplot and a supporting character, then queried more. One agent gave me a reader’s report with revision suggestions, and I did those, too.

Brandi Bowles, with Foundry Literary + Media, was a cold query – I didn’t know much about her, other than an interview I read on Krista Van Dolzer’s blog two years ago. After reading that interview, I immediately added Brandi to my Giant Table o’ Agents. What I liked about her: she likes urban fantasy and literary fiction. In my head I’d been pitching my book as Earth Abides by George R. Stewart meets The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood meets witches. I love lyrical prose with a commercial appeal, and Brandi’s tastes reflected that. (And yes I know I’m flattering myself way more than is deserved with the Margaret Atwood connection, but she is my writer-idol, after all.)

Sample of my Giant Table o’ Agents – I’d highlight requests in bright blue, rejections in red. It took me awhile to decide on a color for the offer. Can’t go wrong with hot pink, though.

A month after querying Brandi, she requested the full. I went slightly nuts, but maybe not as crazy as I could’ve been, because I’d had a baby five days before. What was really cool: Maverick distracted me from worrying. I sort of forgot about querying and submissions in the haze of new-baby-ness.

So it was with great surprise that a month later, I received the email every writer dreams of, from a super-awesome agent who told me how much she loved my book, and offered me representation.

There was gasping. I couldn’t scream, because my one-month-old was sleeping in the next room, and nothing puts a damper on celebratory jigs like a cranky newborn. I am so glad I got Brandi’s email on Memorial Day, because Homes was home and I could share the news immediately.

The sunglass smiley is the cool icon you get when you record an “offer” on querytracker.net.

This post is already too long. So, next week…The Call.

Comments
14 Responses to “How I Got My Agent, Part 1”
  1. KC Held says:

    That friend of yours sounds FABULOUS! And like she totally believes in your mad skillz :).

  2. Pat Kahn says:

    It’s just as thrilling as when I heard it the first time. I’ll be smiling for the rest of the day. Way to go, Beth!

  3. PB Rippey says:

    No, no–the post is not too long! I was glued to every sentence. Thanks for the details, so interesting to read. Looking forward to the next installment. And congratulations again!

    • Beth Hull says:

      PB, I’m quoting you on Part 2! Have been feeling self-conscious about writing such lengthy posts on this.

      • PB Rippey says:

        I’m like you, I can’t get enough of such stories. So interesting and reinforces the “you just never know, but you have to keep trying” card. So type away! Not sure “card” is the right word. Sorry. God, I’m tired.

        • Beth Hull says:

          Okay! Stay tuned for Wednesday. Get some rest ’cause you’ll be up all night reading it. Kidding. I don’t think it’s as long as this one.

          And yes! You never know – keep trying! This surprised me more than anyone, I think.

  4. Cool story, and I know all too well what it’s like to daydream about those author cameos. 😉

    • Beth Hull says:

      Haha, Lanette, what will you be wearing in YOUR author cameo? I’ll be in something flattering, of course. I’m just trying to settle on specifics.

  5. That is an awesome story! It really is the greatest feeling isn’t it? Well, I guess until the actual sell:) Congrats congrats congrats!!!!

    • Beth Hull says:

      Thanks Deana! It is a great feeling, and I’ll admit, a bit terrifying too, as I read over my manuscript and revise it knowing there’s a chance it could go out into the world. Actually, GULP, very terrifying. But having an agent believe in my book feels wonderful.

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  1. […] The first part of the story is here. […]

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