“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the GLA blog. Some tales are of long roads and many setbacks, while others are of good luck and quick signings. To see the previous installments of this column, click here. If you have a literary agent and would be interested in writing a short guest column for this GLA blog, e-mail me at email@example.com and we’ll talk specifics.
K.M. is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within one week; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Update: Larissa won.)
Golden State home. Her debut sci-fi novel is
Mind Storm (May
2011), a post-apocalyptic story
that the New York Journal of Books called “…not
only the beginning of an exciting new series, but
heralds the debut of a notable new voice in the
sci-fi genre.” See K.M.’s author website here.
NOT THE BOOK I STARTED WITH
I went about getting published a little backwards. The first book I queried wasn’t the one that got me my agent and I actually submitted directly to a publisher—one that still took unagented submissions. I passed their first-read criteria, and totally thought the next round would be a breeze, but the second read didn’t happen right away. Go figure. For almost two years I queried agents off that book. I got a lot of partial requests and even more full requests, but no bites on an offer of representation. It felt like the publisher was taking forever to get to that second read.
After waiting so long, I felt frustrated and discouraged. Who wouldn’t? I think I knew, even back then, that the book wasn’t strong enough. Which is why I set it aside on the querying end and wrote something else. That something else turned into Mind Storm.
GETTING BACK INTO THE GAME
I’d been around the query-go-round more than a time or two, so I knew the drill, but this time I was going to take it slow. Once I finished editing my next book to make it the best I could, I set out on the query road again. Now … please understand I hate writing queries. I’m really bad at distilling a long product into a short blurb, but I did my best. At the end of summer, I queried maybe ten agents. Then I took a long holiday out of the country after not taking one for a few years.
Right at the beginning of my holiday I got a full request from Jason Yarn at Paradigm. I couldn’t very well let that sit for the next two weeks without answering it, right? I’d spend all the time I was supposed to be having fun worrying instead. I’d brought my laptop with me to store all the pictures I was going to take and managed to get an Internet connection long enough to send the full out. Then I didn’t really think about it until a month and a half later when Jason e-mailed me again.
You know that feeling you get when an agent e-mails you back? You know you’re either going to fly high or crash hard, depending on what they say. I was so sure it was going to be a rejection. I’d had two years to collect those and I was all set to add his to the list. I was prepared to move on and try the next bunch of queries, because that’s what you do. Only it wasn’t a rejection.
Jason e-mailed saying he wanted to call and talk about my book (which at the time wasn’t called Mind Storm, because I’m as bad at titling things as I am at distilling a novel into 200 words). We talked a few days later, and he offered representation. After we hung up, I freaked out (as one does), but I didn’t immediately say yes. I had the full out to one other agent and a partial out to another. It’s only polite to give other agents an update on your situation if things change. One agent declined to get in the mix and the other got back to me a long time later.
But I really liked how that phone call with Jason went, and I liked what he thought about my book and the changes he wanted to see. You better believe I took his offer.
THE NAILBITING DOESN’T STOP
Jason and I worked on two rounds of edits for Mind Storm before submitting right before the Thanksgiving holidays. Which meant my book probably didn’t get looked at until January. It ended up selling in February. People say sci-fi is a hard sell, but all you need is one person to say yes. I went through even more revisions with my editor, all of which made the story better than I could make it on my own. A little over a year later, my first book is set to be published. I couldn’t be more excited and I’ve got Jason to thank for that.
K.M. is excited to give
away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within one week;
winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You
can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Update: Larissa won.)