How I Got My Agent: Anita Clenney - Writer's Digest

How I Got My Agent: Anita Clenney

"How I Got My Agent" is a recurring feature on the GLA blog. 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. Anita Clenney spends her days writing mysteries and paranormal romantic suspense about Secret Warriors, Ancient Evil and Destined Love. Her latest book is Awaken the Highland Warrior, a book the Romantic Times Book Reviews called "A romantic adventure that's hard to resist."
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"How I Got My Agent" is a recurring feature on the GLA blog. 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 literaryagent@fwmedia.com and we'll talk specifics.

Anita is excited to give away 2 free copies of her novel to random commenters. Comment within one week;
winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you've won before. (Update: Lizzie & Leah won.)

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Anita Clenney grew up an avid reader, devouring
Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books before moving on
to mysteries and romance. Now she spends her days
writing mysteries and paranormal romantic suspense
about Secret Warriors, Ancient Evil and Destined Love.
Her latest book is Awaken the Highland Warrior, a
book the Romantic Times Book Reviews called "A
romantic adventure that's hard to resist." Anita
lives outside Washington DC, with her husband
and two kids. See her website here.

FACE TO FACE WITH AN AGENT

Like many writers, I met my agent at a conference. It was my first conference. I had flown from Virginia to attend the New England Chapter of Romance Writers of America with a friend of mine, since I didn’t know any other writers and didn’t want to go to my first conference alone. I always thought New Englanders were supposed to be a little stiff. Not so. They were so warm and welcoming that I wanted to move there. I wanted to belong with this group. I was amazed at the camaraderie of writers, how supportive they were, and the workshops were great. I had a wonderful time.

So I was standing in line to pay for the books I had bought at the booksigning, and a conversation started about promotion and how much the publisher is willing to do for their authors. A voice pops up behind us and joins the discussion. We turn to face the newcomer, and we notice the name badge. Ooh, an agent. Christine Witthohn of Book Cents Literary Agency. My friend and I tried to act cool and nonchalant, but we were secretly thrilled. We hadn’t chased the agent down, hadn’t made up excuses to meet her or pinned her in a corner of the restroom so she could hear our pitches, nothing like that. She just started talking to us, and she gave great advice.

"YOU'RE DOING IT ALL WRONG"

I found out I had been doing some things wrong. One thing I knew was wrong, but I up until then I had been willing to take my chances. I had been submitting to editors before the story was polished, thinking I could would have time to fix it before they wanted to see more. Hmmm, maybe that explains those early rejection letters. Christine convinced me that as a new writer I couldn’t afford to continue that way. She requested my full manuscript, right there, standing in line, and when I got home, guess what? It needed polishing. A lot of polishing. Not only that, it needed revisions.

I worked on it for ten months, and then I e-mailed her. Here’s the bad part … and it confirmed her advice. She was no longer accepting submissions. Ack! What was I to do? I emailed her again, trying not to let my desperation show, and explained that we had met in line at the booksigning and how much her advice helped me. She e-mailed back that she remembered me and would make an exception this time. A few days later she offered to represent me.

I ALMOST MISSED THE BOAT...

When I think of how close I came to missing the boat, it’s frightening, because I love my agent and she loves my stories. We’re a great fit. She’s encouraging, supportive, and she’ll get that whip out and crack it if she needs to keep me in line. I learned something valuable that day, and it goes back to what we’ve all heard as kids. If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well. Especially as a writer, whether it’s a synopsis, a partial, a full manuscript, or even if you’re a seasoned author and you can sell on a blurb. Whatever you put out, make it the best it can be.

Awaken the Highland Warrior was the book I submitted to Christine. The story is about a historian who finds a 19th century Scottish warrior buried in the crypt behind her house, but the warrior isn’t dead. I’m getting wonderful reviews, and I just sold out at my first booksigning, which was with Nora Roberts, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Kristan Higgins and some other fabulous authors. My agent just beams like a proud mother, making me so grateful that my first conference was several states away with a writer’s group I didn’t even belong to. Maybe it was fate.

Anita is excited to give away 2 free copies of her novel to random commenters. Comment within one week;
winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you've won before. (Update: Lizzie & Leah won.)

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