"How I Got My Agent" is a new recurring feature on the GLA blog. I find it fascinating to see the exact road people took that landed them with a rep. Seeing the things people did right vs. what they did wrong (highs and the lows) can help other scribes who are on the same journey. Some tales are of long roads and many setbacks, while others are of good luck and quick signings.
To see the previous installments of this column, click here.
If you have a literary agent and would be interested in writing a short guest column for this GLA blog, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll talk specifics.
This installment of "How I Got My Agent"
is by romance writer A.C. Arthur
(who also writes under the name Artist Arthur).
A.C. has more than a dozen romances
published in several series. See her
NOT ON THE SAME PAGE
Since my first book was published in 2003, my search for an agent has been a long and tedious one. One of the first obstacles I faced was that I didn’t really know what the job of an agent was and therefore, didn’t have a clue what I was looking for. Of course that led to my first choice not necessarily being the right one (meaning I signed with the first agent who showed any interest in my work). And three years and three additional contracts later, I released that agent. Why? Because we wanted different things from my writing career—and that is a recipe for disaster in an agent/writer relationship.
I continued to get publishing contracts and to write books, all the while knowing there was something or someone missing from taking my career to the next level.
"WHAT ABOUT CHRISTINE?"
One day in 2006, during a routine rant about not having an agent, an editor friend of mine suggested Christine Witthohn of Book Cents Literary Agency. My friend's exact words were, “She’s a new agent, but she’s smart. She knows what she’s doing and how to work for you.” This sounded fantastic so I sent Christine an e-mail and she in turn asked for a proposal. Now, the phone call I received from her about two weeks later was not what I’d been expecting. You see, I thought since I had a referral and because Christine had immediately responded by requesting material, that I was a shoo-in. Not so!
Christine’s exact words were, “You don’t need me.” I was devastated, but had to respect her honesty. Besides, she was so nice to talk to, the fact that she was actually rejecting me stung just a little less. I couldn’t really figure out why she said I didn’t need her because I was convinced I did. But I accepted her decision and tried to move on. This meant the search was still on, and I sent out numerous queries to more agents—some that I’d queried in the past and other new ones. This is a very subjective industry; it all depends on the right editor seeing the right manuscript at the right time. Some, I’m persistent if nothing else.
A FATED CONNECTION
In early 2008 when a very reputable agent expressed interest in my work, I was overjoyed. Again, I was convinced I’d found the right agent. Again I was wrong. What was it about me that I just couldn’t find the right person to represent my work? The funny thing was, after only a couple of months with this agent, I had a feeling I’d once again missed the mark. There was no real connection. And while I thought I’d done a good job of explaining what I wanted, where I wanted my career to go, we still came out on opposite sides. That’s not to say that this agent wasn’t good, they just weren’t the one for me.
At this point I still had the same problem; I was sans agent. There were publishing houses that I would have loved to write for but they would only accept agented submissions. Besides that, the contracts were changing—the language becoming increasingly more technical and I knew I wasn’t getting the best deals for myself. So on this agent search, I researched and researched and sent only material that I thought specific agents would be interested in. Meanwhile, in April 2009, I finally got to meet Christine at the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention. I didn't pitch her; I just wanted to meet her. (Plus, I figured how many times did I want this woman to reject me.)
A little while later, I had another proposal and needed some honest feedback—so I called on Christine again for advice. Again, she responded immediately, which I’d always been impressed by because I know how busy agents are. And her response was more like a friend would to another friend’s messages, rather than an agent to an author, so it was very cool! Two months later, I was signing a Book Cents Literary Agency contract. We finally decided we were right for each other. It had taken three years, but I firmly believe in timing especially in this industry. I also believe in fated connections. From the first time I talked to Christine I think we clicked, and while it took another three years for us to actually work together, it was well worth the wait!