Thursday, July 16, 2020

How I Got My Agent

Hellooooo, readers. I hope you are all doing well in these--I don't even have the adjectives anymore--times. At least 2020 is half over. Of course, it can also get worse. We haven't hit November yet.

My daughter just dressed up her American Girl doll in a cute cheerleader outfit and said her doll has practice. "We're doing it online," she said. Via Zoom. Because this hell is our new reality.

Anyway, that's not why you're here. You're here to read about my agent story because perhaps you're seeking representation or considering it. Or you want hope that you, too, will one day land an agent. I used to read these kind of posts all the time for that same reason.

So I am currently an indie author. I have five YA novels to my name, all self-published. I had shopped my first novel to agents in 2013 with little luck, but wound up signing a contract with a small, independent press (a good one where I met the majority of ATB bloggers). When my rights were up, I took ownership of my book and republished it on all the major book retailers. I self-published its sequel, and then decided to embrace the indie track. I had no trouble hiring my own editor and cover artist. I bought Vellum for formatting. I had figured out how to make a good product, just not how to market one.

I still don't understand how to utilize Amazon ads.

Then in 2017, I decided to try for representation with a new YA novel because it's hard to get books into the hands of teens as an indie author. I queried five agents and snagged my "dream agent" only to find out that he was all smoke and mirrors, and that he dicked over more clients than he had helped (I should've known something was up when he didn't follow me back on Twitter). He sent my book to several publishers in a slap-dash, Jackson Pollack style of submission and nothing ever came of it. So I dropped his ass and self-published the book myself.

Fast forward to 2019 (ah, the good old year): I wrote an adult mystery and decided to see if I could, again, get representation. I submitted the manuscript to roughly 75 agents and got interest--more requests for full reads than I had ever secured before, but alas, no takers. Then through a referral, I submitted the book to an editor at Thomas & Mercer. And while that was being considered, I got a request from an agent--Liza Fleissig. I told her that the book was under consideration at Amazon and she said that was "not a bad problem to have."

Ultimately, while the book made it to the acquisitions meeting at T&M, it didn't make the final cut. And Liza felt that the manuscript would need another round of content edits before she could offer on it. But at that point, I was 40K words into a new story, a PI novel that I felt had great potential for Liza and crime fiction imprints. And both Liza and the editor at T&M had welcomed me to submit again. Let me tell you, a girl can survive solely on that.

The pandemic really put a damper on my ability to write, but in May, I finally finished the revisions on my PI novel. I submitted the manuscript to Liza who--because of our previous communication--was eager to read it. She got back to me within four weeks and offered rep. This book, she said, was ready to go.

Liza is amazing. She is responsive and smart and on the ball. And she follows me on Twitter and Instagram.

I'm not going to lie--when I thought I might have a deal with T&M, I spoke to two of Liza's clients and asked for references. If I had sold my book, I wanted to make sure that the agent I signed with was honest and ethical. [If you take away anything from this post let it be: check an agent's references. Not just from the clients who sell, but from the ones who don't.] Spoiler alert: Liza is both those things.

And that, folks, is how I got my agent. You'll notice that I could not have done this without the referrals. Or maybe I could have but not as easily. Writers have to help each other out. Hopefully, I'll be in a position to help someone else one day.

I like self-publishing, but I also like having an agent in my corner to advocate for my work. I like feeling like I'm part of a team.

The path-to-an-agent is different for every writer. It's not linear or complete. I know writers who have had multiple agents over the course of their careers.

That said, I don't know what my career path will look like. It could be jagged and uphill. It could stall out. I might make a return to indie publishing, I might not. I just don't know. Because if 2020 has taught me anything it's that plans are for suckers.

No comments:

Blogger Template by Designer Blogs