How I Got My Literary Agent: Vicki Leigh

“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Vicki Leigh, author of CATCH ME WHEN I FALL. 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: Vicki 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. (Please note that comments may take a little while to appear; this is normal).

 

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Adopted at three days old by a construction worker and a stay-at-home mom,
Vicki Leigh grew up in a small suburb of Akron, Ohio where she learned to read
by the age of four and considered being sent to her room for punishment as an
opportunity to dive into another book. If she couldn’t be a writer, Vicki would be a
Hunter (think Dean and Sam Winchester) or a Jedi. Her favorite place on earth is
Hogwarts (she refuses to believe it doesn’t exist), and her favorite dreams include
solving cases alongside Sherlock Holmes. Vicki is an editor for Curiosity Quills
Press, and is represented
by Sarah Negovetich of Corvisiero Literary Agency.
You can find her on Twitter,
Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, and YouTube. Her first novel
is CATCH ME WHEN I FALL (Oct 2014), book one of the Dreamcatcher series.

 

 

My road to finding my agent is a bit different than most, an exciting journey that took me to cloud nine with a terrible bout of whiplash. I took a route that many might not recommend, a risky one that could’ve had catastrophic consequences. But let’s start at the beginning.

ONCE UPON A TIME

In January 2013, the idea sparked for my upcoming Young Adult debut, CATCH ME WHEN I FALL. I’d shelved one story by this point, having received multiple rejections for what I now realize was a horrible manuscript, and was anxious to begin something new. As someone who suffered from vicious nightmares, writing from the point of view of a character who protects the living from them was both exciting and therapeutic. For seven months, I poured my heart and soul into my book, and after multiple rounds of revising via the help of my fantastic critique partners, I sent out my first queries.

(What are the best practices for using social-media to sell books?)

BREAK INTO TWO

In July 2013, a week after I emailed my first group of agents, a fairly well-known pitch fest began—PitchMAS. When the event opened to entries, I quickly sent in mine, hoping that maybe, by some fluke, my manuscript would stand out amongst all the other fantastic ones. For weeks, I obsessively watched my email, received a couple rejections from the agents I’d queried, and then something amazing happened: out of all the people who entered PitchMAS, my book was chosen to be featured on the website, on display for agents and editors to see.

I stalked my entry like an overprotective parent watches their kid on the playground. Partials and fulls were requested of me by agents and editors alike, and by the time PitchMAS ended, my entry had the most requests in the entire contest.

DARK OF THE NIGHT

But as it is with every story, my happy ending wasn’t without thorn bushes. Of the eleven or twelve agents and editors I sent materials to, the majority of them passed. Rejections came rolling in from the rest of the agents I’d cold queried prior to PitchMAS, and soon, my jubilant mood dampened.

Then I received a Revise and Resubmit from Alison Heller, an acquisitions editor at Curiosity Quills Press. I absorbed her notes like paper towel soaks up water, and applied all her suggested changes, including re-writing my ending.

And she loved it.

(Why you should only query 6-8 agents at a time.)

By November 2013, I had a contract from Curiosity Quills Press. But when I scanned through the document, my heart raced. How was I supposed to know what I was doing? I’d never seen a publishing contract before. Immediately, I knew I couldn’t do this on my own.

That night, I emailed Alison to let her know I was interested but would like to seek assistance in negotiating the contract, and then I emailed a few more agents—including Sarah Negovetich, the lovely lady who would become my publishing soul mate.

HAPPILY EVER AFTER

Within just a few days, I heard from Sarah. She loved my query and wanted to read my full manuscript. I kept Alison abreast of the timeline and held my breath as I waited to for Sarah’s response. Would she love it, or would I have to do this alone, after all?

Then a few days later, Sarah replied: “I’d like to set up a call.”

Cue fainting spell.

For probably an hour, Sarah and I chatted. She had loved my book, and she told me all the reasons why. Then she asked questions like: what I planned for the rest of the series, what other story ideas were waiting to be written, and where I saw my career in the next five to ten years. But through the whole conversation, I couldn’t stop thinking: Sarah hasn’t actually said she wants to represent me.

I was so nervous; my words didn’t come out—people who know me well can attest that I’m usually very bold and opinionated—and the fear that she’d think I’d be boring to work with sprung to mind, intensifying my anxiety.

But something I’ve learned about agents since: they love to talk. By the end of our conversation, when she finally did offer me representation, I knew Sarah was the one for me.

THE END

Every path is different, and no way is the best one. Would I recommend querying agents and editors at the same time? Maybe not. But I don’t regret it for one minute, because, while it was terrifying not knowing whether my adventure would end in success or failure, my choice brought me to Sarah—and made one of my biggest dreams come true.

Be confident. Never give up. And never be afraid to put yourself out there. Value ingenuity. You never know where it’ll lead.

GIVEAWAY: Vicki 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. (Please note that comments may take a little while to appear; this is normal).

 

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Buy it online at a discount.

 

Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:

 

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62 thoughts on “How I Got My Literary Agent: Vicki Leigh

  1. Vicki Leigh

    Thanks everyone for stopping by! Just wanted to let you all know the GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. Best of luck to all of you on you future endeavors, and I look forward to sharing the shelves with you guys! 🙂 Happy holidays!

  2. KBosco

    I am just starting to think about, maybe, possibly, consider, querying agents for my children’s books. I have been too frightened to share them with the world. Your story is encouraging, thank you for sharing. Best of luck to you.

  3. amber hen

    Vicki, what a great story! I love your persistence and your faith. It really goes a long way in encouraging those of us who are still on the rejection cycle. I’m so proud for you and your book looks fantastic! What a great concept. I love the idea of someone protecting me from the nightmares. I can’t wait to read it!

  4. writerontheroadway

    Thanks for sharing your quirky but persistent way to publishing. As I begin to draft my third book, I look forward to the day when I will get ‘the call.’ You have given me the shot in the arm to continue my search for an agent and one day point my books out to friends and family members as we stand in a major or independent bookstore. Best to you in your future endeavors.

  5. tiffanybiagas

    Congrats on finding an agent & getting published! I’m intrigued by the premise of your book – protecting people from nightmares? Sounds exciting! Also, I had not heard of PitchMAS before this so thanks for mentioning that. I am currently in the process of querying for my first novel and working on a second.

  6. terrylynn

    Random comment here…love the idea that one can create a story from within their imagination and find others to join in the enthusiasm making the idea more alive ! One day, as a dabbler in dreaming and creating, I hope to follow through with one of many ideas in the writing field. Right now on the shelf I have a 3/4 finished novel, a children’s musical, a story that could fit into stage or screen, children’s books, among others. Obviously need to find a more specific niche for myself. But as a theatre major, freelance artist, portrait artist, illustrator, singer, now pursuant of writing, it is hard to corral myself into one box. Congratulations to you Vicki and your future endeavors !
    <3 Terry Lynn Fisher

  7. mlam0211

    Love the cover art.

    I admire how you kept querying and kept looking for other opportunities to get your novel published. Quite the inspiration.

    Congratulations!

  8. klcollins

    Nice to see someone who had the same enjoyable punishment as me growing up. Not only did I NOT mind going to my room I’d send myself there when asked what my punishment should be. Good Times! I also want to thank you for this article – perfect timing! As an author that is struggling with getting her manuscript picked up by an agent I’m just about to give up and at least wait for a better time but reading your story gives me encouragement I need to keep going. Thank you for sharing and best of luck in the future to you!

    1. Vicki Leigh

      Yay! I’m so glad this served as encouragement for you! Definitely don’t give up. If it seems like agents aren’t biting on that manuscript, set it aside and write a new one — but never give up on it! Your next manuscript might be THE ONE, but you can always come back and rewrite your old ones. Just keep believing in yourself. 🙂 Good luck!!

  9. Clinton A. Seeber

    This was a well told and inspiring story, and when I finally finish my first novel, I hope to find success too. However, I cannot relate to writing a horrible manuscript, because I know that I have an immense natural talent for writing good stories.

  10. lorac

    I love it! I love hearing stories like yours because it gives me hope. As writers we cannot let rejection get us down or take it personally. We have to keep at it and never give up, no matter how many rejections we receive. Practice (…and revision…) makes perfect!

  11. mberneger

    Isn’t it exciting getting that first book published? I, too, came by my agent and my publisher through the back door. Makes for a good story, with a happy ending!
    Congratulations on your happy ending!

  12. cjloray

    Congratulations! This is my 1st time posting in this forum and find it quite interesting. I’ve been wanting find an agent and to to publish my book for some time now. You’ve given me the courage to step out there and JUST DO IT! Thank you for this great article!

  13. trytrytry

    My three favorite words in your article are “Never give up”. I have rejection slips in all shapes and sizes for my many short stories, but I refuse to believe that none of my stories is publishable. So thanks for the encouragement, and congratulations on your success! Best of luck to you.

    1. Vicki Leigh

      Hi, Sean! Just wanted to let you know that you’ve won the giveaway for the copy of CATCH ME WHEN I FALL! Please email me your mailing address, and I’ll send the book ASAP! 🙂 My email is: vleighwrites (at) gmail (dot) com.

  14. lsteadly

    Congrats on your major successes, not just in acquiring an agent and publisher, but also in the completion of your novel! That’s such an accomplishment in and of itself. I am writing my first drat of a YA novel and love to hear the stories writers tell about landing agents, etc. Thanks so much for sharing yours!

  15. hrfarmer

    Always great to hear another author’s path to success. I’m almost at the stage where I will be sending out my first batch of query letters. Thanks for sharing and inspiring the rest of us to never give up!

  16. EllaDrayton

    Congratulations!! I’m still at the beginning stages of writing my book so sending out queries and searching out agents seems so daunting to me right now. It is very exciting and inspiring to read such a great success story. Thank you for sharing!

  17. stephanie

    Congratulations on your novel!! The cover is gorgeous. I’d read this even if I had no idea of the genre or synopsis.
    As a writer who just got “the call” a few days ago, I can imagine how it must’ve felt to have been featured and lover after shelving a novel. And then to find a publisher and an agent? Amazing. Yours is a great tale. And don’t we all love those;)

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