How I Got My Agent: Anne Greenwood Brown

“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Anne Greenwood Brown, author of LIES BENEATH. These columns are great ways for you to learn how to find a literary agent. Some tales are of long roads and many setbacks, while others are of good luck and quick signings. If you have a literary agent and would be interested in writing a short guest column for this GLA blog, e-mail me at and we’ll talk specifics.

(What a movie can teach writers about how to start a story strong.)



Anne Greenwood Brown is the author of LIES BENEATH
(Random House/Delacorte, June 2012), a YA novel about murderous
mermaids on Lake Superior. She is a guest blogger on Writer Unboxed
and a member of The Apocalypsies (2012 YA/MG debuts). You can
follow her on Twitter @AnneGBrown and check her out on Facebook.
See the novel’s book trailer here.



In April 2010, I got in my car and drove four hours to my first writers’ conference. The plan: pitch my “Serious Piece of Work” to two literary agents and ultimately score a huge publishing deal.

The first morning, I met with Agent #1. She was everything my Midwestern mind conjured up when I thought of publishing professionals from Manhattan: tall, beautifully dressed, glossy, didn’t pronounce the letter R. She proceeded to tell me that there was no market for my “Serious Piece of Work.”

(Headed to a conference? Learn how to approach an agent.)


As I licked my wounds, I prepared for my second pitch session–this time with Molly Lyons of Joëlle Delbourgo Associates. Molly looked very friendly in her picture. Plus, she went to Amherst College, my dad’s alma mater. I reasoned that she had to like my novel because I knew all the words to the Amherst fight song.

But thirty minutes before that second pitch session, the conference coordinator announced that Molly was unable to make the trip, and her colleague, Jacqueline Flynn, had come in her place. I quickly Googled Jacqueline on my Blackberry. She represented nonfiction, specializing in business books. Seriously? I almost bailed on the meeting. I’d already been told my Serious Piece of Work was a piece of something else. Why bother?

Despite feeling defeated, I decided it would be unprofessional to bail on the appointment. Besides, I could always use it as a practice pitch. Strange thing though. When I sat down, I forgot to mention my Serious Piece of Work. Instead, I told Jacqueline about a MG novel I wrote for my kids.

“That sounds good,” she said. “Send me that.”


Four months went by and, as I sat in the Arby’s drive-thru, my phone rang:

“Hi, Anne. This is Jacquie Flynn from Joëlle Delbourgo Associates. I was at a hockey tournament this weekend and my son forgot his book at home. He pulled your manuscript out of my bag for something to read. He loved it and told me to sign you. I just finished reading it myself, and I think he’s right.”

*color me speechless*

We submitted that MG project all fall and through December. The resounding response from editors was, “I love this, BUT….” There was always a “but,” and there were no takers. But by that time I’d finished my fourth novel, LIES BENEATH, a Young Adult story about mermaids on Lake Superior. Jacquie agreed to send it out, and Random House Children’s Books/ Delacorte Press bought it five days later in a two-book deal.

So if there’s a moral to this story it’s that you just never know how these things are going to work out. The trick is to never stop writing, and never, ever, ever bail on an opportunity to pitch your novel!

(Should you mention self-published books when querying an agent?)

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4 thoughts on “How I Got My Agent: Anne Greenwood Brown

  1. Eli_13

    Your article was very inspiring, especially your last line about never bailing on an opportunity. I’m a big believer that everything happens for a reason and your story is proof of that!

  2. Kaylyn

    I’m wondering what ever happened to your MG script?
    I would have a hard time ditching it. Or did you discover that YA was actually your genre?

    1. Anne Greenwood Brown

      Oh, I know! I love that MS! It’s not ditched, it’s just on the back burner for a while. Once the Lies Beneath series is complete, I’ll dust it off and give it another go. You never know…the market changes and then all of a sudden things look differently. (I hope!)

  3. Lina Moder

    I love hearing about how authors found success, and I could really feel Anne’s disappointment at the first pitch session and then her elation after the second.

    How cool that her agent’s son loved the manuscript! Even if it never sold, that’s validation in and of itself, of the highest order.

    Her book sounds so unique:)

    linamoder at gmail dot com


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