I love when writers find their agent one way or another through my blog. The lovely Jenny Torres Sanchez e-mailed me recently with those precious words "found my agent because of you" and I couldn't have been more thrilled. I always find success stories inspiring and know there are a lot of writers still looking and waiting for their future agent, so I asked her if she'd be willing to share her story here on Lit Rambles and she said YES. Enjoy!
The first time I learned about queries, I remember getting a sinking feeling. Why? Because all this time I thought the hard part to becoming an author was actually writing the novel. I had no idea that you could do all that work, write all those words, only to never even have your novel considered because you don’t have an agent. I understand the reason for queries but writing them is pretty darn hard—an art almost. And getting agents to pluck yours from the hundreds they get every week and then actually request your manuscript—well, let’s not go there. I almost, almost, succumbed to the odds but I didn’t. Because...well, I was almost finished with my YA novel and just couldn’t bear to give up at that point.
So, I hitched up my sleeves, and started researching agents and how to write queries. Once you start doing that, it’s very easy to get lost in the whole business side of things and forget about the most important thing—your manuscript. So, I made one rule for myself. Work on my manuscript (and ONLY my manuscript) in the morning while my kids where at school, and research queries, agents, the industry at night when they were in bed. And I stuck to it.
Luckily, very, very, very luckily I came across Casey’s Literary Rambles Blog. I thought I’d hit the jackpot! Here was everything—agent interviews, agent likes and dislikes, links to agency websites, links to authors they represent, what they prefer to see in queries, in short, the most in-depth information in one place. I was thrilled and couldn’t wait for each agent spotlight post. I kept notes of agents that represented YA contemporary literature and made a list so once I was ready to start querying, I’d know where to send my manuscript.
In this time, I also learned about marketing and trying to develop a following and blogging and a whole bunch of other things that give fiction writers the heebie-jeebies. And I thought, oh man, writing is sooooooo much more than, well, writing. I was hesitant to start blogging and tweeting because I wasn’t sure I’d be any good at it. I mean, I wasn’t even sure how Twitter worked. And as far as blogging goes, it took me forever to develop a good writing schedule that I could stick to so I wasn’t sure I had it in me to blog regularly. But again, I figured if I really wanted this, I had to be willing to tread unfamiliar ground and keep going. So I did. And honestly, Casey’s site was pretty inspiring. Every time I visited Lit Rambles, I was blown away by the amount of information Casey compiled, and she did it all just to help other writers, so I figured if she can do that and work on the gazillion other things she does, then surely I can post a blog entry every now and then.
I created a blog account, wrote a silly post about Tyra Banks getting a book deal (which then hit me like Snooki’s book deal hit us all later on), wrote another one about the day I met Jay Asher and Lisa McMann at a conference, and put Lit Rambles on my blogroll. And voila, just like that, I was officially a blogger (even if nobody was visiting my site, which was kind of a bummer). But then one day I got a comment, and it was from Casey thanking me for the blogroll link. And I thought, this girl rocks! Casey—I think you where the first visitor to my site and you gave me the hope that eventually, others would come!
Anyway, as a Lit Rambles follower, I eventually came across an agent spotlight on Victoria Skurnick from Levine Greenberg Literary Agency. I clicked onto the link to the agency website, read their submission requirements, and checked out the online submission form. The online form doesn’t give you the option to address a specific agent, but I read all the agent bios and saw that several represented YA so I filled out the form, attached the sample of my manuscript, and hoped (but didn’t quite expect) to hear back from someone.
I got an email informing me they received my query and would contact me if interested. By this point I’d already gotten rejections from other agents, so I didn’t hold my breath. I thought, yeah, yeah, and went about my life. But then one day I received an email from Kerry Sparks of Levine Greenberg requesting my full manuscript. I was cautiously thrilled. I sent along the full, figuring I’d soon get a thanks but no thanks. Instead, I got an email requesting a phone call. Okay, at that point I sort of kind of maybe had a mini heart attack. Because this was a PHONE CALL! A LEGITIMATE, REAL, PHONE CALL...FROM A LEGITIMATE, REAL AGENT! But I’d also read (in my tireless research) that a phone call did not necessarily mean an offer of representation. So I stifled that excitement, sat on pins and needles for four days, fantasized about being signed, would again remind myself of the dream-crushing but sensible warning that a phone call did not necessarily mean representation, and...waited. And as we all know, this profession will definitely teach you the art of waiting.
After what seemed like forever but was just four days, Kerry and I finally talked. The more we discussed the manuscript, the more I knew she and I would work really well together. She made great suggestions, made me consider things I hadn’t before but now totally made sense, understood the story and characters, and most importantly—was excited about my manuscript and believed in it.
So I signed with Levine Greenberg and the whole experience has been amazing and, truth be known, something I wasn’t sure would ever really, really happen. I feel incredibly lucky to now have such an insightful, patient, and talented agent like Kerry. And I am forever grateful to Casey and this blog since this is where I found the agency, inspiration, amazing and accurate information, and a supportive community of writers.