Editors Blog

How I Got My Book Deal (and a Literary Agent): Mary Weber

“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Mary Weber, author of STORM SIREN. 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 literaryagent@fwmedia.com and we’ll talk specifics.

GIVEAWAY: Mary is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; 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: Jordan Kopy won.)

 

STORM-SIREN-COVER-NOVEL-WEBER       mary-weber-author-writer

Mary Weber is a ridiculously uncoordinated girl plotting to take over make-believe
worlds through books, handstands, and imaginary throwing knives. In her spare
time, she feeds unicorns, sings 80’s hairband songs to her three muggle children,
and ogles her husband who looks strikingly like Wolverine. Her YA fantasy
STORM SIREN released August 19, 2014. Jay Asher, New York Times
bestselling author of Thirteen Reasons Why said of the book, “There are
few things more exciting to discover than a debut novel packed with powerful
storytelling and beautiful language. STORM SIREN is one of those rarities.”
Find Mary on Facebook (MaryWeber, Author), or Twitter (@mchristineweber).

I Needed A Writing Community

Six years ago I showed my mother the beginnings of my earliest book (about vampires, because I may have just read and adored Twilight, ahem). She complimented me. “Here’s a list of all the things I like!” she said (because that’s what mothers are supposed to say). And then promptly handed me five (yes, FIVE) books on writing. “Here, dear. I think these will help you.”

That is my mother. An encourager. An author in her own right. And a mentor.

A few months later she connected me with a freelance editor friend and the three of us added another member and formed a critique group.

Three years went by. The vampire story was replaced by an urban fantasy, and in the course of those years I wrote my busy heart out, critiqued with my group, and researched everything I could on agents and publishing. Basically, I STALKED Chuck’s Guide to Literary Agents Blog. The writers on here were all so encouraging. “Keep going. Keep learning. Keep writing,” they cheered.

(Learn why “Keep Moving Forward” may be the best advice for writers everywhere.)

Then I Began Querying.

The replies started out as silence or “Not for me.” If an agent happened to mercifully slip in an extra snippet of feedback on the note, I would edit and adjust accordingly. Until eventually a few of the rejections became more personalized – emails of “Not interested in this project but feel free to send me another.” Or a couple times requests for rewrites on the urban fantasy story. Followed by rejections of those rewrites. (Holy kracken those ones stung the worst.)

But by the end of that process three things had happened:
1. I’d racked up a sweet total of eighty-seven rejections (and cried more times than I can count).
2. I discovered that, while the urban fantasy really wasn’t going to sell, somehow, amid all the studying and rewriting, I’d actually learned to carve a decent story.
3. A friend paid my way to a writers’ conference with the belief that they are the best way to personally connect with editors and agents.

She Was Right – I Also Needed Connections

You know those manuscript pre-submissions a writer can send in ahead of time to the conference editors and agents? I mailed in my urban fantasy as a sort of last ditch effort. Despite my submission being on brown-inked pages (because my printer broke), two days into the conference I received an invite to chat with the publisher of Thomas Nelson, HarperCollins. “We can’t use this story,” he said, sitting across from me, holding my pages. “But have you ever considered writing YA?”

“UM NO, BUT YES.”

Six weeks later, he connected me with one of TN’s editors who invited me to meet up at another conference later in the year. I came up with ideas and early chapters for two young adult stories, the first of which she rejected. The second I pitched to her at the conference over a cup of tea.

(What are the BEST writers’ conferences to attend?)

I also pitched it to a number of agents while there, but it was one gentleman by the name of Lee Hough whom a mutual friend introduced me to, that I knew right away I wanted to work with. (I later discovered he was the agent for such NYT bestsellers as Same Kind of Different as Me and Heaven Is For Real.) Unfortunately, Lee wasn’t available (or even necessarily interested) to take on a YA author at the time.

But…we began talking. Which led to more talking over the next few months as he was kind enough to give me career guidance.

Convergence

Four months later (probably upon finally realizing my annoying self wasn’t going away), Lee called and signed me. Shortly after, Thomas Nelson made an offer on Storm Siren.

I’m grieved to say that seven months after I signed with Lee he passed away from cancer. However, those months of his agent-guidance and kindness made (and continues to make) a heck of a difference on my publishing journey. My agent now is Andrea Heinecke from the same agency (Alive Communications), and I’m so grateful for her incredible guidance as well.

So here I am, thinking it’s a crazy honor to write this post for Guide to Literary Agents. Especially after spending three years pouring over the pages of this blog. Thank you to the authors who said: Keep reading, keep stalking (in a non-creeper way), and keep writing.

And to you, dear writers reading this…I wish you the very best of luck as well. Keep going. Keep stalking. Keep writing. And may your journey rock.

GIVEAWAY: Mary is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; 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: Jordan Kopy won.)

 

This guest column is a supplement to the
“Breaking In” (debut authors) feature of this author
in Writer’s Digest magazine. Are you a subscriber
yet? If not, get a discounted one-year sub here.

 

Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:

 

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15 thoughts on “How I Got My Book Deal (and a Literary Agent): Mary Weber

  1. H.Stories

    Your opening is what made me read this article. I am glad I did. I too feed unicorns, and inform my daughter that I know all the best ways into Fraggle Rock. I have just finished my first book to a YA series and stumbled upon this blog. My eyes are burning from staring at the screen for so long, but it was worth the exhaustion. Your story has given me hope in a world I am so clueless about. I am a story teller, I have no problem with make believe and imagination, but start talking to me about agencies and rejection and formatting and submissions, you’ve already lost me I am already in the clouds. If you any advice, I am trying to look for workshops and writing groups so I can get better advice? How did you find those groups. Bless your mom for believing in you I have absolutely no clue what your book is about, but after reading your article I am going to read. Best of luck in your endevors!

  2. Patron

    Hi Mary, I’m excited to hear about your book and I would love to read it. I’m actually looking to find the real me in books and I hope to find myself in yours. Also, congratulations!

  3. Saturday27

    Hi Mary,
    Congratulations on Storm Siren! What’s especially exciting to hear is that you kept going forward. You didn’t let any doubts stop you. That’s a sign of a passionate writer! Love it!

    Barbara

  4. jldorothy

    I love your advice – especially as a fellow non-creepy stalker of Chuck’s columns! I finally came out of the closet as a writer and went to my first writers conference. – an awesome experience. The journey of writing can be filled with a lot of doubt and that’s why I love blogs like this — it goes to show that I am not alone. Congratulations on your first book!

  5. Debbie

    Hope. What a refreshing tip. Once we know the light will shine, we can move on with patience and pride. I’d love reading your book to see what drove you. Thanks so much.

  6. Rachel Tell

    Great and inspiring story. I checked out Storm Siren’s Amazon page and it sounds right up my alley! Congratulations on your debut novel, Mary, and I hope to see more of you in the future!

  7. Clae

    What an inspiring story. Thank you for sharing with us. I just started my own local writing group, which I hope will help me improve as a writer, so this is especially encouraging.

  8. Jordan Kopy

    Congratulations on Storm Siren! Thank you for sharing your story – very inspiring. I’ll definitely be looking into attending some writer’s conferences after hearing about your experiances there.

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