How I Got My Agent: Lisa and Laura Roecker

“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 and we’ll talk specifics.

Lisa & Laura are excited to give away a free copy of their novel to a random commenter. Comment within one week; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the print book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Update: Michael won.)



Lisa and Laura Roecker are sisters-turned-writing-partners
with a love of all things young adult. Their first novel,
The Liar Society (Sourcebooks Fire) was released in
March 2011. Kirkus said this of the book: “The
authors create lively and memorable characters
and keep the action moving in their whodunit.”
See L&L’s website here and their blog here.



Picture this: Two young(ish) mothers bored with long days alternating between cleaning up baby poop and baby puke decided that they were destined to do something more exciting than recite Goodnight Moon from memory. After one particularly long bitch session about their Groundhog Day-esque existences they decided they wanted to do something “cool.” Unfortunately, these particular mothers had a set of somewhat limited qualifications:

  1. They liked to read (a lot)
  2. They watched a lot of MTV and other shows targeted to the 12-18 year-old demographic
  3. They enjoyed screwing around on the Internet

Apparently, these three things do not make you desirable candidates for brain surgery (who knew?) but they do give you a pretty decent shot at writing a young adult novel. So, we wrote a book. It took us a month. We had no idea that adverbs were frowned upon or that you’re not supposed to change POVs mid-sentence. We obsessed over Nathan Bransford’s blog. We cyberstalked Janet Reid. We read Guide to Literary Agents cover to cover. We wrote a kickass query and sent it to over 100 agents.

And we got rejected over 100 times.


There were a few close calls, a lot of suggestions about how we might improve our writing and one absolutely gut wrenching “Not for me” from our dream agent, Catherine Drayton, after she requested a partial. Because we weren’t really qualified to do anything else (see above) and because we’d gotten just enough feedback to make us think that we might be able to write a better novel the second time around, we started a new manuscript in January 2009.

By the end of February we had finished the manuscript and incorporated comments from a handful of very smart beta readers. We were officially ready to dive back into the query wars. But this time we were prepared. Okay fine, more prepared.


We had a list of our top 12 agents who we queried the last time around. Catherine Drayton wasn’t on the original list because Lisa was a little scared of her, but Laura insisted. She was, after all, our original dream agent and dreams don’t die easy. We sent out 12 queries, got 6 requests for the full manuscript and a week later we had our first offer of representation. A few days after that we received two more offers of representation and to our complete shock, one of the offers was from Catherine.

After speaking with all of the agents on the phone and asking a lot of really annoying questions we were left to make one of the most difficult decisions of our life. At the end of the day it was Catherine whose vision for the series and our career most closely matched our own. Plus she still scared us a little and we figured a little fear might be good for our writing. We wanted an agent who would continue to push us to be better writers.

Best decision we ever made. Catherine is exactly the kind of advocate that every writer deserves to have in their corner. Plus we owe her big time for rejecting that first doomed manuscript. Unleashing that bad boy into the world would have surely triggered a publishing apocalypse.

Lisa & Laura are excited to give
away a free copy of their novel to a random commenter. Comment within one week;
winners must live in Canada/US to receive the print book by mail. You
can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Update: Michael won.)


The Writing For Children Master Box Set
has all kinds of things packaged together
for children’s writers, all for one
super-discount price.



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48 thoughts on “How I Got My Agent: Lisa and Laura Roecker

  1. Scott Springer

    I have seen your pink promotion on twitter – so cool. And I read the first chapter – sounds like a fun book. I loved this story about your 100 rejections – and your getting better from it. You both sound great.

  2. Julia

    I’m amazed at how resilient you both are- 100 rejections including Dream Agent! What a fantastic real-life story of how you can go after your dreams and be successful. Congrats to both on you, I’ve seen so many pink wigs over my twitter feed for The Liar Society, that was a brilliant marketing strategy!

  3. Margo Rowder

    I was so happy to see Lisa and Laura in this installment! Thanks, you two, for sharing the road you traveled to get this far. The destination (and hopefully parts of the journey) must have felt like a million bucks. Congrats, ladies. 🙂

  4. Natalie Aguirre

    Great post. I can’t believe you wrote a novel in a month. I know your query for LIAR SOCIETY was awesome. I read it in Elana Johnson’s FROM THE QUERY TO THE CALL. I’d love to win.

  5. Martha Ramirez

    Congrats on ur success! I think it’s so cool that you BOTH are in this together. I wish I had a sis I could do that with:)
    Nice to see you here too. I learned about you guys through Elana Johnson’s site and E-book.

    Thanks for the great post!! And congrats. Catherine sounds perfect!

  6. Erica Olson

    As much as we (meaning, I) fight the fact that our first book is our Practice Novel, you show how it can work to ditch the first one and keep on with the second. Thanks for the reminder (ignore my tears)…

  7. Laura Marcella

    You girls are too funny! I’m glad you got out of your Groundhog Day-esque existence, lol. Good for you for not letting your first novel bring you down, and for pursuing Catherine again. You’re an inspiration! I can’t wait to read "The Liar Society"!

  8. Jessica LeSaicherre

    This was great, I needed to read this. As a busy mother of two I am too trying to balance it all. With bits of hope with full request only to have the hope shattered by rejections makes the balancing act harder. I have a dream and I know over night success does not happen nor does success happen easily. Can not wait to get cracking on my WIP. Great story and article!

  9. Kristan

    Haha, love the story! And I’ve heard *great* things about the book.

    (A little secret: I think Catherine is one of my dream agents too. She rejected me very encouragingly last year, and I’m looking forward to querying her again when my new manuscript is ready.)

  10. Nikki

    Good luck to you. The cover really captures the viewer’s interest. It’s great that you both kept up with it and are now published. Now you can tell your children about how to never give up on your dreams.

  11. Heather McCorkle

    What an amazing story of perseverance! I love that the ladies didn’t give up after one book. And I’m so glad they didn’t! I’ve been anticipating the release of this book for a while now. All the best ladies!

  12. Amber Argyle

    Lisa and Laura are also the reason pink wigs have sold out country-wide. Good thing Halloween is a ways off. lol
    Congrats on all your success, girlies. I need to jump back into the agent waters, but I’m afraid of getting bit again.
    *tests water with toes*

  13. Julie Nilson

    I think a lot of people might look at your story as one of "overnight success," but I think there’s a lot for other unpublished novelists to learn from your experience–researching the publication process, using constructive criticism, and most of all, persistence. Congratulations to you both!


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