Thursday, March 5, 2009

How I got my agent

Agent Kristin is on the verge of selling Song of Scarabaeus. I think it's really going to happen! Seems like a good time to tell my "How I got my agent" story.

By the time I had a manuscript that I deemed ready to send out to agents, my husband also had a (fantasy) manuscript ready so we did the research together. We gathered a list of about 30 agents who were asking for science fiction and fantasy and sorted them by preference. We prepared our query letters and submissions according to each of their specifications, and began mailing/emailing - starting at the top of the list.

By about a month later, I had five requests for partials. One agent didn't want simultaneous submissions (even on a partial) so I sent three chapters to the other four. This eventually resulted in three requests for the full manuscript. That was pretty exciting!

Then came the agonizing wait for what I felt sure would be three swift rejections. Two of the agents took about six weeks to get back to me (the third was very slow). And both rejected me. But both sent a long email explaining what they did and did not like about the book. They agreed on many points, so I knew they were on to something. Agent A said she'd reconsider after a rewrite. In writing to Agent B to thank her for her feedback, I mentioned that fact - and Agent B then said she would also reconsider after a major rewrite. Somehow I'd managed to turn a rejection into a "reconsider"!

Real life caught up with me at this point, and it was 13 months before I had finished the suggested changes. Partly this was because the changes necessitated many other changes, which stimulated new ideas, which created a mound of new rewrites. I also changed the narrator from first to third person and ran the entire book through my critique group, chapter by chapter, when we met every two weeks. Whew!

Agent B was my preferred choice and I resubmitted to her first. I reminded her of our previous correspondence and she requested the full. Three months later, when I was home sick with the flu, came The Call. Kristin Nelson offered me representation...

...and asked for more rewrites! But that's another story.

Kristin took on two new clients in 2008 and I'm honored to be one of them. And to think, it wouldn't have happened if I hadn't given her that little push that prompted her to say she'd reconsider a rewrite.

Most importantly, it just goes to show that you can score your dream agent by working your way up through the slush pile.

1 comment:

Himani said...

It's interesting you mention you switched from first to third. My POV preferences are usually third person limited, although that may be due to over saturation (everything I pick up seems to be in first person, it's just very heavily used in certain genres). I am curious, though, what made you change your mind and go for 3rd person POV?

Also, I was wondering...did you mention in the letters to all the agents that you were sending simultaneous submissions?


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