How I Connected With My Literary Agent: Getting to “Yes.”

June 25, 2017 Musings

After finishing my novel, I began looking for a literary agent. There’s a lot of great information on how to acquire one and soon I found myself leaning into the computer screen every night as I researched my options. There were conferences – yes, that’s me wincing as I share that I’ve lived through speed dating with agents – but it was also a good place to hear from them firsthand during panel discussions. And I subscribed to Publishers Marketplace.

It was time to apply what I’d learned. I agonized over my query letter. If ‘agonized’ seems too strong to you, remember, I was composing my letter reading Miss Snark’s archived ruthless reign of terror. Visit her archived posts and you’ll learn about writing queries and what agents do as you genuflect over being called a nitwit. Miss Snark’s Archives  

But I digress. I wrote the letter. I sent it out.

I received rejections.

One sunny day, my pink princess phone rang and it was a literary agent. She turned my head with her compliments and vision for my book, and when we hung up, I had representation! It was a heady, glorious feeling….

Yet during the following months there were long droughts where she did not submit my work or respond to my emails. But I had an agent.

Until the day I received a form email that she sent all her clients. Seems she was leaving the agency to accept an exciting opportunity at the intersection of publishing and movie making. Kicked to the curb of that intersection, I decided to follow the philosophy of fellow Southerner, Scarlett O’Hara, and think about it tomorrow.

I had a new work in progress and I turned to my writing. But one day All Things Unusual was done and there was nothing to do but screw the cap on the inkwell and put down my quill. And find myself an agent.

So once again I did a deep dive into the world of literary agents. Only this time I needed to find the right one. Someone I could count on to treat my work professionally. My expectations had changed.

I did the research and developed a list of top agents for my genre while crafting — a nice way of saying, revision, revision, revision — a query letter. This time getting it right was challenging but not something to agonize over.

I also began practicing a daily mantra called, grow a thick skin.

After proofing that query many times, I hit send, and in that one stroke my letter was out in the universe…..and I was filled with anticipation.

Then time passed.

You know what they say about a watched pot. I decided to take a short trip and unplug from technology. No texts, no emails. All the while, waiting in my inbox, was a brief note from literary agent Jill Grosjean asking whether my novel was still available for representation and if she still had an exclusive.

That would be YES!

Jill finished reading All Things Unusual, and wrote,

“I absolutely loved it! Didn’t want the story to end. I would love to represent your book to the publishers if you will let me. Let’s talk.”

There was no bluebird perched on my shoulder when we had that talk. I had a laundry list of pragmatic questions – including the one about responding to emails – and Jill answered each one patiently and personably. She already had thoughts on editors for my work. It was the beginning of a trusting professional relationship.

Where are we today? Jill is submitting my novel to editors and I am dusting off that daily mantra about my epidermis. But I’m also reveling in the knowledge that I have the agent I wanted in my corner.

While I write my next novel she’s working to get me a book deal. What more could I ask?

Well, because you may be on the same deep dive I took; next week I’ll post an interview with Jill. Because I asked, and she said, “Yes.”

*****

Perhaps you noticed that bottle of Bourbon in the photograph. I took it out of my bottom drawer just for you. On Wednesday, June 28 you’ll find my recipe for mint juleps here. If you adhere to ‘practice makes perfect’ now’s your chance to put your practice into play. Fix yourself the best mint julep you’re capable of mixing on Sunday, July 2 and join literary agent Jill Grosjean and me back here for a conversation on my veranda.