Skip to main content

How I Got My Agent: Debut Novelist Diksha Basu

Debut author Diksha Basu shares her story of how asking for a little guidance helped her land a literary agent, and how choosing the agent she knew would push her the most has helped her career.

As I finished my MFA at Columbia University, I ventured out into the world armed with a manuscript and prepared to search for an agent. The world of query letters and agent research is daunting and exhausting, and after just a few rejections, I was quickly giving up hope.

This guest post is by Diksha Basu. Basu is a writer and occasional actor. Originally from New Delhi, India, she holds a BA in Economics from Cornell University and an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University and now divides her time between New York City and Mumbai.

Image placeholder title
Image placeholder title

Her debut novel, THE WINDFALL, is now available wherever books are sold.

Instead of completely surrendering, I decided to ask for help from faculty members who knew my work well. I had taken a few classes with David Ebershoff and I emailed him asking for advice. David immediately replied with a list of agents he thought would like my work and suggested I query them specifically.

I did and I was fortunate enough to get more than one offer for representation. The offers followed similar patterns—an editorial note with an offer to continue the conversation on the phone. Then, after a long and useful call, an in-person meeting—either over lunch or in an office.

At this point, when I had more than one offer, I asked a published writer friend for advice and she said to pick an agent who didn’t intimidate me. As I tend to do, I ignored the well-meaning advice completely and picked the agent who intimidated me the most, and I am so glad I did. Adam Eaglin at the Elyse Cheney Agency intimidated me enough that I knew I wouldn’t miss deadlines. Of course that wasn’t the only criterion. Right from our first email interactions, Adam also seemed to really understand my work: he was supportive while also being critical when necessary, and his feedback transformed how I saw my book.

Over the next two years, I worked closely with him to turn my collection of stories into a novel. Adam is a very involved agent who patiently reads drafts and responds with detailed editorial feedback. In addition to his editorial role, Adam seems to know how to handle my personality well while giving me feedback—he knows when I’m starting to fade and need encouragement.

It’s been almost three years now that I’ve been working with him and he’s become a friend along the way, in addition to being my agent. Although, come to think of it, I don’t hear him call me a friend quite as often as I do.

Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 2.57.50 PM

The biggest literary agent database anywhere
is the Guide to Literary Agents. Pick up the
most recent updated edition online at a discount.

If you’re an agent looking to update your information or an author interested in contributing to the GLA blog or the next edition of the book, contact Writer’s Digest Books Managing Editor Cris Freese at cris.freese@fwmedia.com.

Freese-Headshot
writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: A New Podcast Episode, "Your Story" Prompt, and More!

This week, we're excited to announce our latest episode of "Writer's Digest Presents," the new "Your Story" prompt, and more!

Writer's Digest Best Live Streams, Podcasts, and YouTube Channels 2022

Writer's Digest Best Live Streams, Podcasts, and YouTube Channels 2022

Here are the top live streams, podcasts, and YouTube channels as identified in the 24th Annual 101 Best Websites from the May/June 2022 issue of Writer's Digest.

What Is Fan Fiction in Writing?

What Is Fan Fiction in Writing?

You might have heard the term, especially if you’re in online fandoms, but what exactly is fan fiction? Managing Editor Moriah Richard explains.

5 Ways To Use Short Stories To Grow as a Writer

5 Ways To Use Short Stories To Grow as a Writer

Short story writing can be a gateway to writing your novel—but they’re also fun and worthy stories in their own right. Here, author Dallas Woodburn shares 5 ways to use short stories to grow as a writer.

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Not Having an Online Presence

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Not Having an Online Presence

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so we started this series to help identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake is not having an online presence.

Shirlene Obuobi: On Writing From Experience

Shirlene Obuobi: On Writing From Experience

Physician, cartoonist, and author Shirlene Obuobi discusses the writerly advice that led to writing her new coming-of-age novel, On Rotation.

WD Poetic Form Challenge

WD Poetic Form Challenge: Kimo Winner

Learn the winner and Top 10 list for the Writer’s Digest Poetic Form Challenge for the kimo.

8 Things Writers Should Know About Tattoos

8 Things Writers Should Know About Tattoos

Tattoos and their artists can reveal interesting details about your characters and offer historical context. Here, author June Gervais shares 8 things writers should know about tattoos.

Tyler Moss | Reporting Through Lens of Social Justice

Writing Through the Lens of Social Justice

WD Editor-at-Large Tyler Moss makes the case for reporting on issues of social justice in freelance writing—no matter the topic in this article from the July/August 2021 issue of Writer's Digest.