How I Got My Agent: Heather McCorkle

"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. Heather McCorkle is a writer of all things fantasy/sci-fi, be it adult, YA, dark or otherwise.
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"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 literaryagent@fwmedia.com and we'll talk specifics.

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Heather McCorkle is a writer of all things
fantasy/sci-fi, be it adult, YA, dark or otherwise.
She runs a blog, Heather's Odyssey, where she
talks about the journey of writing.



TWO AGENTS WANTED IT

I didn’t get it right the first time. I met Ken Atchity at the Hawaii Writer’s Conference in 2008 and pitched a book to him. He loved the idea and asked me to send it to him. But, when I got home I received an offer of representation from another agent. With an apology to Ken, I accepted the other agent’s offer. Mind you this was after a year of submitting and over fifty submissions.

Unfortunately I had submitted a manuscript that wasn’t ready and was picked up by an agent who wasn’t prepared for all the work it would take to get it there. After a year of unsuccessful submissions to editors, we parted ways. I always thought you got an agent and they got you a publisher, end of story. I couldn’t have been more wrong. There is little more discouraging than getting an agent and having it not work out. It’s the kind of thing that can make a writer re-think their path and maybe even give up. But not me. I didn’t know if anyone ever went through what I did and got back in the saddle for a second run, but I was determined to try.

IMPROVING MY CRAFT

The entire time we’d been submitting to editors I had kept writing and improving my craft. I finished the series I was working on and moved onto a new one. After parting ways with my first agent I saw how badly that manuscript needed a total overhaul. I set it aside and focused on my young adult urban fantasy. Once it was edited and polished to my liking, I decided to start looking for an agent again.

Right away I decided this round of submissions would be very different from my first attempt to find an agent. Now I knew to read agents' blogs, websites, and anywhere else they networked. I knew I had to get to know them and what they wanted and submit thoughtfully rather than blanket the entire literary world. I remembered Ken and his enthusiasm for my work. I still had his card. I carefully picked about fifteen agents—Ken included—and sent my query letters out.

TRYING KEN AGAIN

Within a month I received a request for my full manuscript. That agent eventually passed on it. Ken got back to me and asked for a full as well. While I waited for his response yet another agent asked for it. The pressure was on and I hadn’t heard from Ken in over a month. After almost another month I e-mailed him and let him know I’d have to end his exclusive look due to other interest. Since he didn’t respond I went ahead and sent it out to the other agent. A week later he called and offered to represent me. Now I had a decision to make.

I didn’t want to get it wrong this time. After seeking the advice of several of my published friends, I finally went with my gut. I’d met Ken in person, we clicked immediately, I loved his online presence, and the way he supported and promoted his authors was astounding. The decision was easy when I considered all that. My experience the second time around has been completely different and well worth it. I’m glad I didn’t stray from my path.


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