How I Got My Agent

I’ve been wanting to share the full story of my querying process and how I got my agent for a while. Reading these types of stories really helped me along the way – I even cried when I read one story…so I wanted to tell mine just in case it helps anyone on their journey…

I starting querying my first novel “Framing the Sea” (originally titled “Blown to Smithereens”) at the end of January 2010. I sent out 10 query letters to my “top” agent choices and got my first full manuscript request 5 minutes after sending my first query letter ever. I burst into tears. I couldn’t believe it! Needless to say, it was rejected – within a week, which I now know was rather quick. One week later I got a full request from a huge agent at William Morris – my fingers were shaking so badly I couldn’t type!!!

35 full and partial manuscript requests later…every rejection I got felt like a stab to the stomach. Why did everyone love my query letter, every partial turned into a full…and then I got rejected? Time and time again. Every agent had very detailed feedback to give me. Every agent said I was a “very talented writer” but nobody offered me representation.

It was very very disheartening. Everyone kept saying “something big is happening here – you have so much interest!!!” but it didn’t feel that way at all…I was so depressed. People weren’t rejecting my query letter – they were rejecting my full manuscript – over and over again. At some point I decided to do a major revision taking into account the feedback from the agents that resonated with me the most.

I actually also received very valuable feedback from some friends on the HarperCollins website Authonomy.com (if you connect with the right people it really is a very wonderful community…) my second novel, “Master of the Miracles” received a gold medal and an Editor’s Desk review on the site in December 2011.

Anyway – I cut 30,000 words from my novel and changed the ending. I sent the revision out to 3 agents that had asked for R&Rs and to two agents who had given me the most valuable feedback (even thought the did not ask for an R&R I sent an email asking if they would be interested in seeing a revision as they both had said that were on the fence about the novel). They both agreed to take a second look.

Then I got an offer of representation from an agent. We had an amazing conversation – I was told my novel was perfect and ready to go out on submission. But I still had 11 full manuscripts out with other agents (plus the R&Rs etc.) I emailed everyone telling them I had an offer – 4 came back saying they would only offer rep if I did major revisions first. I was totally torn and not sure what to do. Some of them were really big agents.

On midnight before my deadline – one of the agents who had rejected me but agreed to look at the revision (who was one of the first agents I ever queried) offered rep. too. She told me that my novel was “almost perfect” and she had some small suggestions for revision. Everything she said really resonated with me. And so I signed with Melissa Sarver of The Elizabeth Kaplan Literary Agency about 1 month ago.

It never would have happened without the help of the amazing people on Absolute Write, on Authonomy.com, and for the invaluable information I got from the website Agentquery.com.

After a month of revisions, we went out on submission last week.

May it happen to each and every one of you soon!!!

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