“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Jared Brock, author of the memoir A YEAR OF LIVING PRAYERFULLY. 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 email@example.com and we’ll talk specifics.
Jared Brock is the author of the memoir A YEAR OF LIVING PRAYERFULLY
(Feb. 2015, Tyndale), a story that follows him all around the globe (including a
meeting with the Pope) in an effort to understand and appreciate prayer. Booklist
called it “fun and insightful.” See the book’s trailer here on YouTube. Connect
with him on Facebook. Jared is also the co-founder of Hope for the Sold, an
anti-human trafficking organization.
A long journey
I recently went on a 37,000-mile prayer pilgrimage around the world. I met the Pope, visited monks, danced with rabbis, walked on coals, and revived my prayer life. I explored a world of historical prayer traditions across the Judeo-Christian faith family, including some of the weird uncle and crazy cousins, such as North Korea and Westboro Baptist Church. I wrote a humorous book about the wild experience, and now I’m a published author. Here’s how it happened:
I faithfully honed by writing craft for the first 7 years of my adult life, averaging 2-5 hours per day, often 7 days per week. I wanted to take my writing to the next level, so I contacted one of my favorite authors. I was backpacking through Central America at the time, so I Skyped him from the jungles of Costa Rica, and asked if I could learn from him. I ended up flying to Vancouver Island, where I interned for 6 months under his leadership. It was an incredible experience – one that I recommend to every would-be author.
Taking the Leap
A few years later, I felt I was finally ready to publish a book. I wrote and re-wrote a crisp one-page query. I called up my mentor and asked if he would be so kind as to introduce me to his agent. He was, and he did. I fired off my query with high hopes.
She rejected me.
Ann Spangler is a literary agent par excellence. With over 40 years of experience in editorial, marketing, and management at 3 publishing houses, Ann has seen it all. She was the literary agent for such works as The Jesus Storybook Bible (1+M copies sold), Fresh Wind Fresh Fire (1+M copies sold), A Grace Disguised (a modern classic), and dozens of other highly acclaimed titles. As an author herself, Ann has written almost a dozen books – including Women of the Bible and Praying the Names of Jesus, and has sold over 3 million copies so far. Ann liked my query, but decided to pass.
A month later, I tried again – this time with a full proposal. I’d worked on it for weeks, and it was tight. I included an in-depth research report, competitive analysis, future book ideas list, 3 sample chapters, mock-up cover design, the whole nine yards. She liked my proposal, but decided to pass.
A few weeks, Ann called. She liked one of my titles in the future book ideas section, and asked to see a proposal. So, starting at square one, I put together a 50-page proposal, complete with sample chapters in which I traveled to Brooklyn to celebrate Passover with ultra-orthodox Hasidic Jews.
She liked it.
Back in the Middle Ages, people used to take a year out of life to go on spiritual pilgrimages, to set aside the things of earth and focus on things above. I’d always dreamed of doing a prayer pilgrimage and re-creating this ancient tradition. My wife and I run a charity to fight human trafficking, and I discovered my personal need for prayer while filming undercover in the red light districts of Amsterdam.
After getting a literary agent, the process was pretty straight-forward: we worked for a few months on perfecting the proposal, and then my agent pitched it to 15 publishers. We had interest from 13, and offers from 4. We got into a bit of a bidding war – every first-time author’s dream – and ended up signing with a passionate editor at Tyndale House Publishers, the largest independently-owned (and non-profit) Christian publisher in the world.
My writing mentor told me that he’d referred many writers to his agent before, but that I was the very first that she’d actually signed. All I can say is this – each and every relationship, whether it be my mentor, my agent, my editor, or my publisher – is a total gift and a blessing that I don’t deserve, but am extremely very grateful for.
The rest, they say, is history.
Check Out These Great Upcoming Writers’ Conferences:
- Oct. 28–30, 2016: Writer’s Digest Novel Writing Conference (Los Angeles, CA)
- Nov. 19, 2016: Las Vegas Writing Workshop (Las Vegas, NV)
- Feb. 11, 2017: Writers Conference of Minnesota (St. Paul, MN)
- Feb. 16–19, 2017: San Francisco Writers Conference (San Francisco, CA)
- Feb. 25, 2017: Atlanta Writing Workshop (Atlanta, GA)
- Feb. 26–March 3, 2017: Writers Winter Escape Cruise (conference/cruise departing Miami)
- March 25, 2017: Michigan Writers Conference (Detroit, MI)
- April 8, 2017: Philadelphia Writing Workshop (Philadelphia, PA)
- May 6, 2017: Seattle Writers Conference (Seattle, WA)
- July 22, 2017: Tennessee Writers Workshop (Nashville, TN)
- Aug. 18–20, 2017: Writer’s Digest Conference (New York, NY)
How to Blog a Book by Nina Amir discusses
how to slowly release a novel online to generate
interest in your writing and work.
Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:
- 7 Ways To Add Sizzle To Your Next Book Event.
- Agent Spotlight: Julie Gwinn (Seymour Agency) seeks YA, Christian Fiction/Nonfiction, and More.
- “No, Thank You” –On Rejection And Writing.
- Tips On World Building For Writers– How To Make Your Imaginary World Real.
- Follow Chuck Sambuchino on Twitter or find him on Facebook. Learn all about his writing guides on how to get published, how to find a literary agent, and writing a query letter.
Your new complete and updated instructional guide
to finding an agent is finally here: The 2015 book
GET A LITERARY AGENT shares advice from more
than 110 literary agents who share advice on querying,
craft, the submission process, researching agents, and
much more. Filled with all the advice you’ll ever need to
find an agent, this resource makes a great partner book to
the agent database, Guide to Literary Agents.