"How I Got My Agent" is a recurring feature on the GLA blog. I find it fascinating to see the exact roadpeople 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.
Corrine Jackson is a young adult writer.
She blogs and tweets (@Cory_Jackson).
She is the former Editor-in-Chief of two
literary magazines, including Statement
(CSU, Los Angeles) and Dash (CSU, Fullerton).
A MOCHA AND A MISSION
With my first novel, Touched, I slaved away at Starbucks every night and weekend determined to get my idea down. It took three months and countless mochas, but by March 2009 I decided to begin querying. I sought out online examples of query letters, showed it to friends, and basically rewrote the thing fifteen times.
The result? Rejection, rejection, rejection. Then, in July 2009, I wrote to an agent’s assistant who had a reputation for being helpful and asked – very politely, without attitude, and with the aim to better my work—if she rejected me because of my idea or because my query letter had been poorly written. She extended some invaluable advice you can read about here, and I revised my letter. Within two weeks, I had seven agents asking for full or partial requests. And from there, the waiting began …
HI, MY NAME IS CORRINE
Last November, I became a Twitter addict, following fellow writers, editors, and agents, especially the agents I knew had my work. I’m ashamed to admit I refreshed my browser every ten minutes, bouncing between Twitter and my inbox. One agent, Laura Bradford (@bradfordlit) of Bradford Literary, has a habit of tweeting about her day. Since she’d requested my full manuscript with a lovely handwritten note, I’d stalked her tweets with particular interest, noting how much her clients adored her.
TWITTER STALKING PAYS OFF
Then, one evening in January 2010, Laura Bradford of Bradford Literary Agency tweeted about wanting to read a YA manuscript she had. I wondered if maybe it was mine. The next day, as I was riding the bus to work, I read these tweets:
“I was up until 3 last night reading a ms. It was really good and I don’t feel that tired today, strangely.”
“I think it is too long, but I have to say, I feel rather delighted to have read something that totally kept me interested.”
I knew my manuscript might be too long, and I kept refreshing Twitter as the day passed. These tweets came next:
“I am going back to the YA reading now. I just got that gushy feeling in my gut. Always a good sign.”
“So there it is. I finished it, I love it, I want it. Happy sigh. Such a lovely feeling.”
“Well 1 that I want anyway. There could be some horrible revelation coming…like she signed elsewhere last month. It happens.”
I watched as Laura’s followers began to get in the game. At this point, I was madly sending Direct Mail to my pal, Kate, asking her if I was crazy to think I could be the subject of those tweets. Then, Laura realized the author of the manuscript was following her on Twitter and began to tease.
“This tickles me…the author in question follows me on twitter.”
“She could be reading these tweets and wondering if I am talking about her. I am going to call you later, after that dang cover letter.”
“By the way, did you use like 40 lb paper? Your full ms weighs like 3 lbs more than everyone else’s.”
“AND you live near where I grew up. Don’t have signed with anybody else, ‘k?”
At this point, I lost it.I’m talking shaky-hands-and-an-inability-to-string-two-words-together lost it. Not an easy feat for a person who deals in words. After all, I did print on heavier paper, and I am a “she.” I dared to ask her where she grew up. Her response?
"@Cory_Jackson The San Francisco Bay Area. : ) "
“SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUTUP!!!! IT IS TOTALLY YOU!!!!!!!!!”
A short time later, my phone rang, and it was Laura offering me representation. Her sense of humor and the appreciation her clients had for her work sold me. I accepted her offer, and I haven’t looked back since. I can’t think of a better, more heart-palpitating way to have received an offer after months of sending queries.
The quickest way to get an agent's attention
is a professional submission. That's why you need
Formatting & Submitting Your Manuscript, 3rd. Ed.
It has dozens of query letter examples (novels,
nonfiction, short stories, kids books and more).