home           about           reviews           author insight           review policy

Thursday, October 7, 2010

More Author Insight: Getting an Agent

What was the agenting process like for you, and what's your best advice for someone seeking representation?

 "I used QueryTracker.net to keep everything straight and did a ton of research on agents before I sent. I wanted to make sure everyone I sent to was a good match. I sent out in batches. My best advice would be to keep trying.  You won’t always get representation on your first book. I didn’t. (And no, the trunked novel will NEVER see the light of day! Lol They were right to pass on it, but it was a great and very necessary learning experience!)" - Leah Clifford, author of A Touch Mortal.

Be persistent. Finding the right agent is like dating. You don't always hit it off with everyone, or even most people. So don't take rejection personally, but do believe in yourself and your work. Move on gracefully if rejected and always do you research on agents and their dos and don'ts." - Daisy Whitney, author of The Mockingbirds.

"Long.  My advice?  Stick with it…to a point.  If you’ve gotten requests for pages, there’s something to your idea.  If you’ve gotten requests for a full, there’s something to your idea and your writing.  If you’ve submitted to 50+ agents and gotten only one partial request, turned rejection (like me with my first, never-to-be-published book), something isn’t working.  Set it aside and write something new." - Jen Nadol, author of The Mark.

"I was introduced to an agent who was just starting out herself. I sent her a letter that basically said, 'I'm new, you're new, let's take a chance on each other.' People seeking agents should look for someone who really gets their work. Otherwise, that agent will have a tough time selling it." - Jon Skovron, author of Struts & Frets.

"I sent my agent, Jamie Brenner of Artists and Artisans, a one page query (without sample pages or a synopsis) on a Tuesday. She asked for the full the same day. On Wednesday, she requested an exclusive read. And she signed me on Friday—all in the same week. After agent hunting for more than six years (with other projects), it was exciting and reassuring. There a number of different ways to get an agent. Though a personal encounter—via a conference or pitch session—or a personal reference are probably the most frequently reported, my experience proves that agents do read query letters. Learn how to write a good one. Know what your inciting incident is and use that as the hook of your query." - Wendy Delsol, author of Stork. 

"Well, I think that the publishing process is different for everyone. I actually queried a publisher who accepted unsolicited manuscripts. Once the book deal came, I queried agents. I think the best advice I can give is this: write the best manuscript you possibly can - make sure it's FINISHED and in the best condition possible before you send it out." - Rebecca Maizel, author of Infinite Days.

"I met my agent at a conference. If you have the resources, I would apply or attend either an SCBWI conference or something like the Rutgers One on One Plus conference. Also—this is a big one—make sure that your manuscript is complete! After meeting her in person and pitching the book, my agent asked me to send her the MS stat! I had to delay in sending it her way since it wasn’t entirely complete. So make sure you have that finished, final, polished draft to send. " - Kelly Creagh, author of Nevermore.

 "I had kind of a bizarre querying experience in that, after signing with my agent, I discovered that 14 of my 20 queries never actually sent - OOPS!!!  But I think it was almsot fated, because of those 6 queries that made it out, one of them was a partial requested turned full request turned offer of representation from an amazing agent who was perfect for me.  So I"m glad of the 6 that sent - that one made it through!" - Kody Keplinger, author of The DUFF.

"The best advice I have is that without an agent, the publishing process feels like jumping on a river raft without checking for falls up ahead. It’s a grand ride, but you don’t know where you’re headed!" - Dianne Salerni, author of We Hear the Dead.

 "I failed miserably in my first attempt to land an agent several years ago. So I wrote and wrote and wrote until I got better, and then I went online and found agents and sent out a bunch of queries. I ended up with several offers and was lucky enough to get my dream agent. I think my best advice for someone who is seeking representation is to take the time to make your book good before you query. I know that sounds simple, but I think too many of us (myself included that first time) are just so excited we don't let things simmer. We don't give the manuscript space and time and then go back and fix it." - Ally Condie, author of Matched.

"One word: conferences. I met my agent at Willamette Writers Conference. From researching online, I knew I wanted to pitch to Jim McCarthy because he’d repped books I like, and he liked quirky and under-represented voices. But meeting him in person made me confident I’d want to work with him. You learn so much more by meeting agents face to face than just by writing to them" - Phoebe Kitanidis, author of Whisper.


"I only queried a handful of people before being taken on by my awesome agent - I'm incredibly lucky. I actually enjoyed the process, because, at that point, the accepted etiquette makes everything extremely uniform and automatic, which was refreshing after crafting 100,000 words of subjective prose. (The etiquette was difficult to suss out, though - that was probably the most frustrating part for me.) To others, I would say, 'Be patient.' I know that's the hardest thing in the world to be when your creation is at stake, but I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason, and everything in its own time. I would also say, 'Have fun with it.' Again, maybe rage-inducing to hear, but part of my life philosophy. I'm a may-die-tomorrow, the-world-is-not-serious-business type; it's no good doing anything in this brief little speck of a life if you're not enjoying it, or at least finding meaning it." - Lia Habel, author of Dearly, Departed.

"We had a very atypical road to publication, including the way we gained representation. We never wrote Beautiful Creatures to be published. We wrote it on a dare from Margie’s oldest daughter, and we ended up writing it for seven specific teens that read the book as we were writing it. When we finally finished, a few of our friends had read it, too. One of them was Margie’s best friend from junior high, the middle grade writer Pseudonymous Bosch (The Secret Series). He gave the book to his agent without telling us, and she called one day and told us she wanted the book." - Kami Garcia, co-author of Beautiful Creatures.

"I queried three books over several years, so it was a bit of a long-winded, painful process for me. Being on the other side, I see the process as the subjective and chance beast that it is. It’s about catching the right person on the right day with the right manuscript. Most agents are bombarded with thousands of books per year, and I’m sure they want to read each one with their full attention, but how difficult would that be? I used to think you had to do and say everything right to get an agent. Now I just think you have to do your best, keep improving your craft,  and pray." - Denise Jaden, author of Losing Faith.

"Actually straightforward: I researched, queried, and got an offer. I would say: Research who represents whom, what kind of deals they get, whether their style seems to mesh with your needs in terms of editorial feedback and communication frequency, etc. Polish your query and manuscript, double-check the agent's query preferences, and approach politely and professionally. It's a business relationship, so it's much like job hunting." - Jennifer Hubbard, author of The Secret Year.


Come back Thursday to find out if the authors think its important for every book to have a message!
<< Previous


  1. This was so inspiring! What a wonderful way to head into the weekend - motivated and ready to work! :-)

  2. I love reading these stories--they're so inspiring. Thanks! :)

  3. I love Daisy's analogy to dating! Neither is easy, but they're both hopefully worth it in the end.

  4. These agent stories are great to read! I love hearing about the road to publication.