This is the post I honestly despaired of ever writing.
Three completed books and two years stumbling in and out of the query trenches brought me to this moment. Finally!
Yes, I’m about to throw another Toy Story reference at you. Here it is…I feel like one of the aliens. Except that bratty Sid plays no role in my story.
If you’re reading this and you aren’t a writer, then you may have no idea why anyone would want/need an agent. Or why agents aren’t lining up at writers’ doors/inboxes offering to represent them. They stand to make some cash if they sell the book, right? Or can’t a writer just “hire” an agent?
Trust me when I say – that’s not how it works.
A decent agent receives a deluge of a few hundred query letters from writers, EVERY WEEK, in which the writer describes her awesome manuscript and anything about herself she thinks might hook the agent (namely previously published work). Out of those queries, the agent might ask for a few partials or even a couple of full manuscripts to read.
The overjoyed writer says a prayer, or lights a candle, or whatever, and fires off the submission. And then waits. And waits some more. Most of the time the agent writes back a couple of months later and says “Thank you, it was very nice, but I didn’t fall in love with it enough to offer representation.” Or something to that effect. The typical agent will actually offer to represent only a few people during a year. She hopes (usually) that these authors will be “career” writers, not just one book wonders. A busy agent might have thirty clients. Period. No room for more. Until somebody dies. And even then she’ll keep representing that author’s estate, trying to make more money for that estate, and of course herself.
An author wants an agent because, with the exception of smaller presses, publishing houses will not even read a query from an unagented author. The publishers rely on agents to filter, or gate-keep. And to find what the publishing house editors have told the agents they want. So, for the most part the only way to get a book into readers’ hands without an agent is to self-publish, or query a small press. Self-publishing and small presses work out very well for some authors, but I prefer to go the traditional route, at least for now.
Of course having an agent does not guarantee getting a book deal from a publishing house. There’s a whole lot of submitting to editors, gnashing of teeth, chewing of nails, ranting at anyone who will listen, and eating of chocolate. Yes, writers do a lot of waiting. And eating of chocolate. Agents probably do too. Mixed in with frantic bursts of revising, synopsis-writing, etc.
So, now non-writers and writers alike will understand why I am delighted to announce-
I HAVE AN AGENT!!!!
I’ve been doing a lot of this…
Yes, I entered a bunch of contests this fall. I got some requests, but no offers.
I mailed out a few small batches of queries.
I got a “revise and resubmit” with a verbal intent to offer for TENDRIL. Then from a different agent I got an actual offer, also for TENDRIL. After a whirlwind of querying and follow-up “nudging” a week or so later (stating that I had an offer), I got a bunch more requests. Eventually I ended up in that enviable, but unexpectedly difficult, position of having more than one really good offer. There are still agents who have fulls, but didn’t get back to me by the deadline I set. And I also have a few partials out there for FOOLISH.
On December 22, I accepted the offer from Stefanie Lieberman at
Janklow & Nesbit Associates in NYC.
Until today I kept rereading her emails to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.
But today there was something outside my front door.
and inside the envelope was the contract…