Monday, October 8, 2012

How I Got My Agent

*I'm sorry this is a long post! But let's be real, you're going to skim it anyway ;)

Recently I signed with the amazing Marietta Zacker of the Nancy Gallt Literary Agency, a pairing that was actually rather close to not happening at all. I'm fascinated with "how I got my agent" stories, so for those of you who are curious, here's mine. Parts of it are ridiculously unbelievable, even to me, but I hope it will inspire you not to give up on your own dream!

So I wrote this book... that was step one. Drafting and a few rounds of revisions took about a year. Then came the time to actually send out queries. At first I targeted agents that had success representing books similar to mine. This isn't exactly the best idea, since they already have a client like me. I got great feedback from several agents, two of which took the time to send extensive revision suggestions, and I reworked where I saw fit. The changes made the story stronger, but mid-end of summer was maddeningly quiet on the query response/request front. I was losing hope. Maybe this story wasn't the one. So I worked to emotionally let it go, and dove into my next story.

And I went query-rabid.

Now, Marietta was closed some of the time I queried, but I had a watch set on her agent profile on Query Tracker to be notified when she reopened. To me, her and her agency felt extremely unattainable. One of those dream agencies you query and try to forget you queried because you don't want to think about the rejection that's coming. One of my critique partners queried Nancy Gallt, and for a second I was tempted to fill out that form on the website too, but something held me back. Inside, I knew I needed to wait to query that agency until Marietta was open again.

I spent the first half of September sending queries to the rest of the agents on my list (the peak of my query-rabid stage, expecting nothing, happy with how my new story was shaping up). On a whim, I participated in a Twitter pitch event (#pitmad) on a Thursday (that I only knew about because my critique partner happened to mention it on gchat that morning), which led to a request, which led to my first offer by an unscheduled phone call the following Monday, September 17th, which happened to be the same day Marietta reopened. I had queried her as soon as I woke up that morning, and the offer that stemmed from #pitmad came just a few hours later. I notified a couple agents with my material of the offer, as well as some agents I'd queried that I was especially interested in hearing back from. Suddenly there were a handful of agents interested, all promising to get back to me as soon as possible. But being me, I didn't expect any more offers.

After that first phone call, I got an email from Marietta, asking to read the entire manuscript! A same-day response from an agent that JUST reopened, on the same day I got an offer. This was just too unreal. I sent her the full, and notified her of the offer.

I got a second offer on Tuesday, and my head was spinning. I now had a decision to make. I was going to have to tell someone no, and someone yes. I could hardly eat or sleep.

Thursday, on my way home from work, I got another unscheduled phone call. It was offer number three. I had to pull over to a parking lot to talk to her so I wouldn't wreck.

Friday, an email from another agent to set up a phone call. Offer number four.

What. The. Bleep. Do. I. Do. Now?

I spent the weekend in shock. Tossing and turning. Not eating. Anxious. Confused. Thrilled.

Monday I checked in with the agents still considering, letting them know I now had four offers, and that I was preparing to make my decision. Marietta responded, and we set up a phone call for that afternoon. Offer number five. I felt so good after speaking with her. Not only did she get my story the way I wanted readers to get it, but she was incredibly kind, experienced, and just... right.

But I still had time to think, and Tuesday I got another offer. Number six (I told you this story got completely unbelievable. I still have a hard time wrapping my head around it).

Wednesday morning I woke up with the clarity that Marietta was my agent. I still had one more agent with the full, but she was pretty much unresponsive by this point. Convinced I was done, and confident in my decision, I emailed Marietta, set up a phone call, and accepted her offer on the phone. Much squealing of delight followed after I hung up.

I HAVE AN AGENT! OMG! WHAT? IS THIS REAL LIFE? AHHHHHH!!

Later that afternoon, of course, I finally got an email from the last agent I was convinced I would never hear from. She wanted to set up a phone call to make an offer. Number seven. You've got to be kidding. I wrote her back and thanked her, but had to decline the phone call.

I know what you're thinking. This story is bogus. Trust me, I was saying this to myself and my family the entire time. With each phone call, I just felt like I was falling farther and farther down some rabbit hole of a dream. It sounds exciting--the problem you want to have, they say. But it was, at times, heartbreaking. There were tears involved. There was much stress. I felt sick all the time because I wasn't eating or sleeping well. I had to choose between amazing agents who all loved my story. Who wanted to take a chance on me and my little YA contemporary story that I had just started to believe would never make it anywhere. Thankfully, once I talked to Marietta, the agent that almost wasn't an option, my choice was clear.

So I don't have one of those stories where I queried 10 people and got an offer right away. I queried wide, and for months. I got a lot of nos. I just about gave up, but decided to go ahead and send queries to the rest of the agents on my list. To jump into a Twitter pitch event, of all things. To go ahead and query that unattainable agent as soon as she reopened to queries. And suddenly it was all worth it. Every little thing during my query experience happened because Marietta and I were always supposed to work together. Let this encourage you not to take rejections so hard. They're going to happen. Keep in mind, that one "no" might be making way for that one "yes" you're meant for later.

And because it inspired me to see the numbers on these types of posts:

Total time querying: 5 months
Total queries sent: 121
Query rejections: 59
Partial requests: 13
Full requests: 13 
(Those numbers are the same, but not all partials were upgraded to fulls. Some agents ask for fulls right off the bat)
Offers of representation: 7
The rest are no-responders, or have yet to respond (as of the time of this post, I'm still getting rejections!)

"Your time will come, if you wait for it, if you wait for it. It's hard, believe me, I've tried..." 
- Imagine Dragons

Don't give up on your dreams. They're worth the effort it takes to get there. 

32 comments:

  1. OMG you used an Imagine Dragons quote. I die!

    Also, I read every single word. Just like I said I would. And it 'twas awesome, just as I was expecting. :)

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  2. YAY for the numbers post!!! You're like me, in that i LOVE detailed "how i got my agent" posts. So yay!! I still can't wait to hear even better news in the future!

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  3. I read every word too! I'm so happy for you, Kristin! And I'm wishing great luck when you go on sub! I love the concept of your book and can't wait to read it!

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  4. what a great story! And yes, although it is 'the dream' to have several offers, I can imagine it must have been so stressful. Congrats again!

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  5. Unbelievable story. So thrilled for you, Kristin, and looking forward to seeing your book in print.

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  6. what an awesome story! Congrats! Can't wait to read your book.

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  7. Congrats! I love seeing hard work getting results!

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  8. Congratulations Kristin! Your story is amazing! It really is fun to read the details. :)

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  9. I can't wait until your book finds a publishing home. What a great story.

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  10. You're a freaking rockstar, I'm just glad to have met you and continue to watch the awesomeness go down! You know I'll be there at your first signing :)

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  11. This is very exciting. Congratulations! Can't wait to read your book.

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  13. Kristin, I have been away on vacation butjust saw your great news and had to stop by and say CONGRATS!!!!!!!!! Amazing news and story... you are an inspiration.

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  14. Congrats, Kristin! I read your post on Querytracker (just the one that said you had an offer from Rachael Dugas, because I have a partial out with her). I'm thrilled you ended up with so many offers and were able to choose your dream agent! Especially knowing you dealt with so much rejection first (something I know A LOT about). Best of luck!!

    Shannon Wixom (www.shannonwixom.com)

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    1. Thanks so much, Shannon! Best of luck with your partial you have out!! Rachael is fantastic!

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  15. OH MY GOSH, KRISTIN!!!!! How did I miss this news?? You have an agent!! And SEVEN offers? Oh my word, that's incredible!! I am so excited for you! I wish you could hear me squealing {you'll just have to take my word for it} I LOOOOOOOOOOVE your how-I-got-an-agent story! What a beautiful, glorious one it is. :D :D :D Now I'm giving you a hug, well, my computer screen, but it's meant for you. Gonna go see if by chance you're on twitter this late.

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  16. WHOOP! Massive congrats! Thanks for sharing your story.

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  17. Yay, yay, yay!!!! Such an amazing story! I'm so happy for you. :)

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  18. Thank you so much for sharing this...it gives me hope- especially the stats...best wishes!

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  19. So very happy for you!!! I love a happy ending ;*) and YAY for you and your persistence!!! Can't wait to read the next chapter....

    Hugs,
    k

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  20. What an amazing story! I actually got chills reading it. Congratulations! Am off to share it with a few people.

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    1. Thanks so much, Caryn! And thank you for sharing it. I'm so happy it's inspiring others! :)

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  21. This is a fantastic story! Love all the details and the crazy roller coaster week of non-sleeping. I could relate to so much of this story and it was fun to read:) I'm excited to see what comes next for you!!

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    1. Thanks, Jennifer!!! So glad I'm relatable and not completely insane :)

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  22. You've given me HOPE!!!!!! Congrats to you!!!! :)

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    1. Hold on to your hope!! Always!

      Thanks! :)

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  23. GREAT story!! And 7 offers!! Isn't it great that you had so many choices and found the perfect one for you?
    Cannot wait until it's sold and I can read it!

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  24. I am just now reading this news! CONGRATULATIONS! What an amazing journey :) I can't wait to read your book!

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  25. Reading this made me so relieved! I've read a lot of "how I got my agent" stories recently where the author only queried like 10 or 15 agents and then got offers. I'm up to 27 rejection/no response, and I was starting to feel hopeless.

    Congratulations!

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  26. Congrats! I enjoyed reading your story. I am getting ready to send out my very first query in the next week. I guess this is the beginning of the long haul. :o)

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  27. What an incredible story. I have been researching agents and happened on your agent and found your success story through the QueryTracker comments section. As I was reading it, I was more and more amazed by the number of offers you received. But the best part of the story (to me, as someone who is deep into the queries) is the stats at the end. I am so pleased for you that all those offers came in, and that you didn't give up when you received rejections or non-responses. It's an inspiring story for the rest of us and thank you for sharing it.

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