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How I Got My Agent: Jennifer Bosworth

Categories: Chuck Sambuchino's Guide to Literary Agents Blog, How I Got My Agent Columns, What's New, Young Adult Literary Agents.

“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Jennifer Bosworth, author of STRUCK. 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: Jennifer 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. (Barbara won.)

      

Jennifer Bosworth lives in Los Angeles, California, where
lightning hardly ever strikes, but when it does she takes cover.
She is the writer half of a writer/director team with her husband,
Ryan Bosworth. Learn more about her and view the book trailer
for her YA novel, STRUCK, at jenniferbosworth.com.

 

 

A FEW GLASSES OF WHITE WINE…

The first time I met my agent, Jamie Weiss Chilton of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, I’d drunk way too much white wine while standing in the hot sun, and ended up telling her an extremely embarrassing (and rather raunchy) story.

This auspicious first encounter occurred at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference, during their agent meet and greet event. It was my first time at the conference, and I knew a total of zero people. I showed up at the meet and greet, and immediately relegated myself to the sidelines, too afraid to approach any of these complete strangers and say words to them.

(Headed to a conference? Learn how to approach an agent.)

Lucky for me, a group of writers noticed me in seclusion and invited me into their inner circle. Fast forward: a couple of glasses of wine later, we were all pretty gregarious, and I was feeling far less shy when, suddenly, a couple of agents appeared in the mix. I was in the middle of a . . . ahem . . . a somewhat embarrassing and colorful story. I had no choice but to finish it and deliver the racy punchline. I won’t tell you the story. Suffice to say that it was not one I wanted prospective agents to hear.

Afterward, introductions were made and I found out I was pitching to not one, but two of the agents at the next day’s pitch fest. Gulp. But, hey, at least I made a first impression, right? I wasn’t sure if it was a good one, but it was an impression.

A HURRIED FIRST DRAFT

The next day, nursing a white wine hangover, I pitched my book, STRUCK, to Jamie Weiss Chilton, and she seemed to love the idea. She asked me to send her the first 50 pages, I told her I would, and we went our separate ways.

Whew. I was relieved that my naughty story hadn’t scared Jamie away. But what I didn’t tell Jamie was that the book I’d just pitched to her wasn’t even half finished. Still, I figured it would take her a while to get back to me, so I had time to complete a first draft.

Oops.

She read the first 50 pages and asked for the rest. I still wasn’t finished. Wasn’t even close! But I was too afraid to admit that to her, so I said I’d have it in her hands in a week. Then I sat my butt in my computer chair and didn’t leave it until STRUCK was finished. I wrote about 150 pages in 7 days. When I sent the full manuscript to Jamie, it was raw. Like, give-you-salmonella raw.

Wouldn’t it be annoying if I told you Jamie offered to sign me on a complete mess of a first draft? Not to worry. She didn’t. But she did ask me to do an exclusive revision for her.

The problem is, I’d never successfully revised a manuscript. I didn’t exactly know how to address Jamie’s notes, and I ended up completely rewriting the book. When I gave Jamie the new draft, it was unrecognizable from the first. She didn’t immediately fall in love with this new draft, and while I was devastated, I felt the draft I’d delivered was good enough to get me an agent. It just wasn’t what Jamie was looking for.

So I told Jamie thank you for taking a chance on me, but I was going to shop the manuscript around and see if I got any bites.

(Do writers need an outside edit before querying agents?)

“UPON FURTHER CONSIDERATION…”

A week or two later, Jamie contacted me and made an offer. She’d reconsidered, decided the manuscript still had potential, it just needed a bit more finessing, and she wanted to represent it.

Triumph!

Jamie guided me through another couple of drafts, and when STRUCK sold, it did so at auction. Not only that, but my edit letter from my editor was only two paragraphs long. I credit my rock star agent for holding my feet to the fire when it came to revisions. She never let me get off easy, and that’s good, because writing books isn’t supposed to be easy. If it were, everyone would do it. Jamie gets that, and now so do I.

One more funny story about Jamie and me. Jamie doesn’t even know about this one. We both live in L.A., so we met up (after SCBW, but before she’d signed me) for drinks and chatting. Jamie chose and appetizer for us, and I ate it without question, not realizing it had walnuts in it. I am . . . very allergic to walnuts. But I didn’t want Jamie to feel like she’d poisoned me. How was she to know I was allergic to walnuts? So I fought the allergic reaction with all my might. I wonder if Jamie noticed at any point in our conversation that my skin was turning bright red and my lips were turning blue. If so, she didn’t say anything. I fought the good fight until the reaction subsided.

The walnuts didn’t kill me, and neither did the revisions.

GIVEAWAY: Jennifer 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. (Barbara won.)

 

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27 Responses to How I Got My Agent: Jennifer Bosworth

  1. You’ve given me hope. I’ve been waiting for my manuscript to be completely revised (several times) before submitting to agents.

  2. jenmcconnel says:

    What an awesome story! Now you have something else to break out at the cocktail parties. Congrats, and can’t wait to read your book. :)

  3. DexxPeay says:

    Great story to hear! Next time carry an Epi-pen

  4. Anyone who can come up with “Like, give-you-salmonella raw”, gets my fullest reading attention. I can’t wait to read STRUCK now…and I am dying to know the joke! Maybe it can be slipped into one of your future novels, and we will be the only ones who will know of its underlying significance…

  5. rpahlow says:

    Good story. Glad you shared it. Curious of course about your raunchy tale.

  6. Oh my! I’m both inspired and terrified by your post. Inspired that when under pressure you finished and that you got the opportunity to be “under pressure” in the first place. Terrified that you ended up finishing so quickly. I’ve been working on the same book for at least 5 years now. Ugh. Can’t wait to read Struck!

  7. barbarajoss says:

    Great story. Congratulations and glad you prevailed over the walnuts!

  8. Zephyrsaerie says:

    Honesty and humor work, too. Congrats, Jennifer.

  9. jbeck says:

    I am dying to read this book! I love the unique premise and I would love to hear what inspired Jennifer to write about a “Lightning addict”. Thank you for sharing your humorous story of finding an agent (so glad you survived the walnut attack!)

  10. Amanda Nuri says:

    It’s always great to hear other author stories. I’d love to win a copy of Struck being a young adult lover of young adult books! :)

  11. elizabethq says:

    It’s my first time on this site. I just signed on. What a great resource. And I love your story. So candid, so human, so flawed. And yet you succeeded in achieving a dream. Thanks for sharing. I hope I win a free copy!

  12. indigo15 says:

    Wow, I really enjoyed your story. I’m encouraged by the fact that your agent didn’t reject your book even though it was in its raw stages. I can’t imagine the amount of focus and dedication it took to write a hundred and fifty pages in a week, though. The fact that you were able to do it is incredible! I read the synopsis for “Struck,” and it definitely intrigued me. And the story behind the novel has made it even more enticing to me. I hope to read it someday!

  13. pange says:

    What a hilarious yet nail-biting turn of events! So exciting that everything worked out in the end for Jennifer.

  14. Elainemaine says:

    Yikes, I can’t believe she wrote that much in a week to hand in to her editor. Even if it was “raw.”

    I’ve heard great things about Struck. Can’t wait to read it!

  15. caityann29 says:

    I wouldn’t have been able to write so many pages in such a short period of time. Congrats on your book’s success! I’d love to read it.

    Caitlin

  16. ratstar1001 says:

    I would love to read “Struck.” It’s good to know an agent won’t reject something just because it isn’t perfect.

  17. Jeff says:

    Great story. Glad you recovered from your allergic reaction!

  18. Writer_Person says:

    This just shows how far an original story can take you. I checked “Strike” out on Amazon, and I’ve never seen anything like it.

  19. LBarb says:

    Add me to the list!

  20. Melissa Brady King says:

    Great story! I love that she got back to you after thinking for two weeks. A writer’s dream!

  21. sonia gracia says:

    A writer is supposed to put a part of their soul in a story. If anyone knows about allergic reactions, they can be a matter of life and death. As a profession, so can writing. We either make it or we don’t. Being privileged enough to attend the author’s book tour, it does not surprise me that her persona caught the eye of the writer’s world. Being a former medic, her survival does. Now that’s the type of author whose adventure we should follow.

  22. Your novel sounds like an interesting story. Good to know that agents still accept novels that are not in perfect form, although a good joke may help :)

  23. ruqiwg says:

    It’s great to hear that even if an agent says ‘no’, there’s a potential that they might change their minds. A wonderful story, Jennifer. I can’t believe you finished the rest of your novel in a week! Thanks for sharing!

  24. AaronSBell says:

    Glad to see I’m not the only one who’s been in a writing frenzy situation like that. I’ve done nothing like getting an agent, but when i was writing a short story for a friend and realized the deadline was the next day, i knocked out about 4k words in a little over an hour. As it turns out, it became one of his (and my) favorite stories I’ve written.

    Excellent story in your post. It gives me some hope in being the ‘new guy’ at one of those meetups.

  25. Inspiring story. Note to self: White wine and raunchy stories help you get noticed. But now I’m left wondering what raunchy tales you were telling!

  26. Natalie Aguirre says:

    Loved hearing the details of how you got an ARC Jennifer. Let someone else win since I have an ARC of your awesome book.

  27. Lina Moder says:

    Struck has been on my wish-list forever:)

    This is such a great post, and it really helps to hear what other writers experienced at writers’ conferences and how they handled meeting agents – and Jennifer’s story was hilarious and very human!

    It was wonderful hearing how Jennifer grew as a writer through revisions – I think this is one of the most important parts of the process.

    linamoder at gmail dot com

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