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How I Got My Agent: An Atypical Story

There are always rumors floating around the internet that an author has to “know” somebody to get an agent. You guys, that’s not a thing. The vast majority of writers get their agents the old fashioned way: querying. My story is a teensy bit different. About eighteen months ago I found myself mucking about in the query trenches. It’s not a happy or hospitable place, and it wasn’t my first campaign to find an agent. I know all about the grit and fortitude it takes to send out ten, twenty, fifty queries and how every rejection knocks you down. Querying is hard. Luckily this time, I didn’t start this adventure alone. I have a lot of good writerly friends. People that I read for and share sorrows with and trust with the darkest thoughts of my head and my heart. I was brave enough to ask a couple of those author-friends to refer me to their agents. Refer means your query gets moved closer to the top of the slush pile and that you may get a more personalized rejection. Which is exactly what happened to me. Did you read that? Even though I had a referral from another author I still got lots of rejection. All of the agents said the problem wasn’t my writing. The market was simply saturated with that particular type of fantasy. Even though it was a well-written story, it lacked the punch/hook/oomph to make it stand out from the market. Three of the agents asked me to query them again when I had something else completed. Lindsay Mealing, then of Emerald City Literary, asked what else I was working on. I took a chance and pitched her the story I’d been writing while I was querying. I only had about one-hundred pages complete, but I was proud of what I had. I knew it was good–even better than what I’d queried with. PAUSE: I feel like I need to remind everyone new to this business that my situation was atypical. You never, never, never, never, never, never–are you getting the point?–never query an agent with an unfinished manuscript. Lindsay liked the pitch and asked to see the pages even though she knew the story was incomplete. She read the sample very fast, scheduled a call to discuss the direction the story was headed, and agreed to represent me even though it wasn’t finished. Now you’re all like, “Wait. Your agent is Mandy Hubbard at Emerald City Lit. How did that happen?” This summer Lindsay got an opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream, which meant she had to leave agenting. She’d sold STEALING HOME a handful of weeks before, so I was rolled onto Mandy’s client list. Sometimes clients are kept, sometimes they’re let go. And I’m so grateful that I was one of the few kept. Obviously it helps that I’d just sold a book. 😉 I know blogs are sort of a sad, dying art, but if you stumble upon this post and have questions about querying, slushpiles, whatnot, I’d be happy to answer them. If nothing else, I can direct you to other articles that will help!

Author, baker, mother.

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