How I Got My Agent: Ashlyn Chase - Writer's Digest

How I Got My Agent: Ashlyn Chase

"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. Ashlyn Chase is the author of The Werewolf Upstairs (Feb. 2011, Sourcebooks). She is a multi-published, award-winning author of humorous erotic romances.
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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.

Ashlyn is excited to give away a free book to one random commenter. Comment within one week; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the print book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you've won before. (Update: Sheri won.)

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Ashlyn Chase is the author of The Werewolf Upstairs
(Feb. 2011, Sourcebooks). She is a multi-published,
award-winning author of humorous erotic romances
(see them all here), and describes herself as an
Almond Joy bar: a little nutty, a little flaky, but
basically sweet, wanting only to give her readers
a scrumptious, satisfying, reading experience.
See her website here, or find her on Twitter.


OUT OF THE MOUTHS OF 40-YEAR-OLD BABES...

The very first time I pitched to an agent, she asked me if there had been any interest in my story. I was so green, I had no idea what she meant and had to ask. She said, “Have you queried any editors who wanted it?” I probably tipped my head and frowned in confusion as I said, “I thought that was your job.” Out of the mouths of 40 year old babes…

After submitting my partial, I didn’t have to wait long before I received a rude rejection, twice, for the same book—even though I hadn’t resubmitted it. Needless to say, I never submitted to that agent again.

Years later, the very situation that first agent was hoping for arose. I had sent my proposal to an editor, and received “the call.” She wanted to offer me a contract … not just a contract, but a series contract for three books!
Naturally, I did exactly what they tell you not to do. I screamed, said, “Yes, oh yes, oh yes!” I was lucky I stopped short of offering to pay her an advance.

I had e-published several books successfully without an agent, so decided to save myself the 15% and negotiate the deal myself. I had the wonderful editor send me the 15-page contract and realized I was in trouble. I thought I was fairly intelligent, so why couldn’t I understand the damn thing?

SUDDENLY, I NEEDED AN AGENT

But where to find one at a moment’s notice? I had given up on the very idea of agents and had no one in mind. Fortunately, when I turned to my RWA chapter for help, someone who had an agent she could heartily recommend said she’d put in a good word for me. I received a good news/bad news e-mail shortly after that. Her agent’s stable was full (bad news) but she worked with another agent who was looking for clients (great news!).

I sent off a query, mentioning the contract offer along with a blurb, my qualifications, and contact information. Right after that, we had the ice storm of the century. Our power was knocked out for a week. I had a cell phone, but as luck would have it we lived in a dead zone. Terrific. I couldn’t call her. Couldn’t e-mail. And I couldn’t get my two-wheel-drive convertible to cooperate and let me out of my 550 foot driveway. I didn’t know if I’d find power out in the big, wild world anyway. Usually when we have storms like that, the entire Northeast gets buried.

A couple days later, my husband managed to buy a precious generator. The roads were clear enough for him to go to work, but it was still Monkey Island up here and I had to babysit the generator so no one would steal it. (Yes, there were generator thefts in usually civilized New England.) My husband managed to reach a dear writer friend long enough to give her a message from me, asking her to call the agent and tell her that if she was trying to get in touch with me, I was cut off from civilization, but I’d get in touch soon! Really, I would.

NO ICE STORM CAN KEEP ME DOWN

Somehow communication got scrambled and she gave the agent (who had been trying to call) my cell-phone number. As I said, I live in a dead zone. Well, to be precise, half of the house gets spotty reception, the other half is dead. I was taken by surprise when my cellphone actually rang one day. I grabbed it and charged to the spotty side of the house, just knowing it was the agent calling. It was. All we managed to say to each other was “Hello” before we got cut off.

I thought I was going to burst a neck vein.

The following day, my husband chained the generator to a lally column in the garage so I could leave the house and get to a donut shop with electricity and free WiFi. I plugged in my laptop and was relieved when it whirred to life. I e-mailed the agent, explained what had been happening and didn’t care if I had to sit there all day, I was going to wait for an answer.

Fortunately, she understood, and she still wanted to represent me! Yahooooo! My terrific, patient agent Natanya Wheeler not only explained the contract to me, but negotiated a nicer one than I had. She more than earned her percentage and continues to. So, doing things backwards isn’t always a bad thing, i.e. getting an editor first, then adding an agent to the equation. It worked for me. If you live in a warm climate, it might even be easier.

Ashlyn is excited to give away a free book to one random commenter. Comment within one week; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the print book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you've won before. (Update: Sheri won.)

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