"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 writer Becky Levine
A PRO IS NEEDED
When I found out I was going to write a book for Writer’s Digest Books, I was thrilled. I smiled nonstop for about a week. I called family and friends. I did a little happy dance ... and then I sent an e-mail to Jessica Faust at Bookends Literary agency.
I believe in using experts to help me in my life. I have a wonderful tax accountant, who I inundate every year with hopefully-not-too-irritating questions. When my husband and I decided to take out the eighty-foot tree threatening to turn our house into a duplex, we hired a fantastic arborist and let his crew carry their chainsaws up into those top branches. When I knew I would be reading and signing a publishing contract, I wanted another expert on my side. Another one I could trust. Luckily, I knew that Jessica fit those qualifications. How did I know? Because of my critique group, which, yes, does more than critique. We swap writing books, brainstorm projects, and talk about the publishing process.
THE VALUE OF WRITING FRIENDS
One writer in the critique group, Terri Thayer, had been talking about her agent. Terri is the author of two mystery series, both represented by Jessica. Luckily, I found out that Jessica also represents nonfiction. I knew from listening to Terri, and from reading the BookEnds blog, that Jessica was smart and direct—someone I’d be more than happy to work with.
In my e-mail to Jessica, I introduced myself, mentioning both my connection with Terri and the likelihood of a contract from Writer’s Digest Books. Jessica answered quickly, and we set up a time to talk on the phone. In that conversation, we both asked questions; we both talked about our goals. The butterflies in my stomach—the ones that had landed there at the thought of the book and the newer ones that had showed up for this phone call—all settled down. Jessica’s ease and experience relaxed and reassured me. I hung up, confident that I had found my expert. And I did another little happy dance.
HOW I KNEW
This makes my path to representation sound like a few snaps of my fingers—fast and easy. My decision to contact Jessica, though, and my choice to sign with her were based on the research I’ve done over the past few years—reading Jessica’s and other agents' blog, talking with agents and editors at conferences, and listening to my critique partners and writing community. Had I planned on the opportunity to write this book? Frankly, no. I was educating myself so that I’d be ready, when the time came, to publish my fiction. The Writing & Critique Group Survival Guide came about as a wonderfully unexpected surprise. Luckily, because I’d been paying attention, I was able to move quickly, to know what and who I wanted, and to act on that goal.
Jessica negotiated my contract. She thought of things that would never have occurred to me. She explained the legal language and answered all my questions. She took care of everything I needed her to. And me? I got to concentrate on the part I wanted to be doing. I got to write.