Wednesday, February 20, 2008

My Agent Hunt Strategy (or You, Too, Can Find Love Through the Internet)

Tip of the Day: When you say you're going on a chocolate detox, don't purchase the econo bag of Nestle Tollhouse Morsels while grocery shopping.

As Miss Recently Repped, I feel it is my responsibility to share with you how I found Chris, my wonderful agent. I know there is a lot of comprehensive information out there on how to start such a search, but this is my personal story for those who are interested. And maybe it will inspire some readers!

First, a re-cap: Between June 2004 and June 2007, I'd completed 4 YA and 1 MG novels. Some of them were crap, but that didn't stop me from querying on them (bc I didn't know they were crap, I swear!) and then receiving rejections on them. But when I completed that YA novel #4, I KNEW I was onto something. There was plot! There were stakes! There was voice! This book was UNDENIABLY FANTASTIC! (***Sending these vibes to editors right now***)

SO, what I did to find an agent once I knew I had The Book:

1. I visited and made a list of the first batch of agents to query. My first list included those who accepted equeries, had given me positive feedback on my past work, or who repped some of my favorite authors.

2. I read the acknowledgments pages of MG and YA novels to see who repped these books and made notes on who to query.

3. I read Verla Kay's message board, particularly the Agent threads.

4. I Googled the names of the agents I was interested in so I could personalize their query letters.

5. I read the deals on Publishers Marketplace.

6. I wrote query letters. I revised the letters. I got my CPs to weigh in on the letters. I sent the query letters out into the world of agents.

7. I got rejections. Some forms, and some personal ones that pretty much said, "Great writing, interesting premise, but I'm not that into the year 1955," which was apparently a problem since 1955 was the year my book to place.

8. I figured since I was getting personal feedback on the query and sample pages, those weren't the problem. The problem was finding someone to connect with 1955.

9. I went back to and modified my search to those who repped YA and Historical Fiction, when previously I'd been searching for the criteria in (1) above with MG, YA, or Children's as the qualifying genres. My new search terms resulted in only a few agents who I hadn't already queried based on my original criteria. Chris was one of them. She was worth a shot!

10. I sent Chris a snail mail query. Two weeks later, she emailed me asking for the first 30 pages. One month later she emailed me asking for the full. Two months later she emailed me with the word that she loved my book, but she was switching agencies and needed her new head agent to read it as well and agree that her agency could rep me!

11. To say I was THRILLED is an understatement. She TOTALLY got my book and LOVED the historical aspect and the year it took place! She asked for some fact verifications. And then the head agent at her new agency loved it, too!

12. Not only was the new agency that Chris moved to a better fit for me (due to the amount of kidlit sold), but I now had the support of two great agents. Wow. We talked on the phone and could've blabbed for hours. She answered my emails in a day -- even on the weekends! She wanted to rep me for my whole career. Wow again.

13. Six months after my initial query to Chris -- seven from my first query on this novel -- I was signed with an agent. One who supported the year 1955 (I still don't know how ppl can deny its greatness after Back To The Future).
Don't give up, fellow authors. Good things come with time -- and a little research.

Those of you with agents, what was your search strategy? How did you connect with YOUR agent?

Deena, Miss Recently Repped


Emily Marshall said...

Obviously I don't have my own story to share, yet. But thanks for the info and the reminder to keep plugging at it.

Ghost Girl (aka, Mary Ann) said...

That's awesome, Deena! Thanks for sharing the details. It's giving me some ideas!

Rhonda Helms said...

Mine was very similar to yours, actually--I ran through the same sort of process to find my agent (hitting the same reference places).

I'd actually queried another agent in my agency, but she'd handed my material over to my current agent. And that's how it started--we've been working together just over a year now, and it's great! :D

Kristina Springer said...

Great story Deena! :-)

DeenaML said...

Em, I have no doubt you'll have your own story to share SOON! CG is the one!

Mary Ann, I am still awaiting to hear back from Ms. Editor on yours....

Rhonda, that's so cool that your agent was "found for you" in a way. And we all know how she just sold your freakin' trilogy so she's FABULOUS.

Tina, you'll have to share your story some time, hee hee, abt breaking the rules and still landing a fab agent.