How I got my agent

That’s right. My agent.

Welcome to Part Two of my writing life.

I said a couple of posts back that I wouldn’t talk about the process until it had been resolved, but guess what, honeys? It’s resolved.

It happened far faster than I thought it would. It also took six years. I feel both of these timelines simultaneously: It took me six years of taking my writing seriously to get an agent. But it also took me, really, three weeks, once I started querying. All that patience I was mustering, and then—whiplash.

So how did it go down?

First the bad news. You know how they—the mythical “they”—always say you have to know somebody? Well, in this case, that’s how it happened. I knew someone who works with this agent, and now this agent is my agent. (The agent only takes referrals, so I did need the introduction. She’s not just an agent, but a SECRET AGENT.)

However. The good news, and some of you might not think this is good news, is that I worked my butt off getting to the point at which this agent became my agent. In the end, it wasn’t just who I knew. It was that I had gotten myself to the point at which an agent—even, maybe, one with whom I didn’t have a friend in common—might consider me a viable client.

What I mean is that I spent the time, did the work, wrote not just a book, but three books, read the articles and texts on writing better and writing query letters and synopses and how to pitch. I did all this until I really wonder why any of my friends like me anymore, because I’m pretty one-note these days. I learned a lot, and I took every chance I got to get better, learn more, be ready, meet people, connect. I went to Bouchercon 2011, the world con for mystery writers. I joined two mystery writer associations in Chicago. I took a synopsis-writing workshop offered through one of them. I read all the archives on Query Shark. I joined Query Tracker, bought the 2012 Guide to Literary Agents, and researched the crap out of literary agents. I revised and revised and revised every lunch hour away. Does it sound like a lot of work? It was.

And then three weeks ago, I sent out a small batch of query letters. Some of them got rejected right out of the gate. Some of them pulled requests for pages. Some of them went unanswered, which is the new no.

One of them got me an enthusiastic email, and then an enthusiastic phone call, and then a contract. That enthusiasm—through all my research, that was the thing I’d heard to hold out for over and over. That enthusiasm, I’m happy to say, is mutual.

I’m proud to be represented by Sharon Bowers of Miller Bowers Griffin Literary Management.

So how do YOU find a literary agent, since that’s probably what you actually want to know?

Work hard on your book. Work hard on your publishing knowledge. Read books. Read more books. Join groups and organizations. Go to conferences. Soak it all up, and then work on your book some more. You never know what one piece will connect you to your next step. You have to be lucky, but also be ready for when luck strikes.

And if you can do all that, let me tell you: When the good news comes at last, it’s pretty damn good.

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