"How I Got My Agent" is a 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 email@example.com and we'll talk specifics.
Josh Vogt has seen many sides of the publishing
industry, including a stint with Simon & Schuster
out in NYC. He’s currently working with Scott Hoffman
of Folio Literary to get his urban fantasy novel, Enter
the Janitor, on the shelves. He also covers SF&F news,
book reviews and author interviews at the Speculative
Fiction Examiner. See his website here. Or Twitter here.
MY FIRST AGENT LEAVES THE BIZ
Technically, I’m on my second agent now. My first brief relationship with a literary agent was back in 2006, when I was out in NYC attending the NYU Publishing Institute. Through one of the lecturers there, I got in touch with a newer agent who was trying to establish a client base. She liked the story I was querying at the time, and we spent about a year tweaking the manuscript and shopping it around; but while there was some positive feedback from various editors, it never got picked up.
After that year, the agent decided to leave her agency and go back to school. While it was a bit of a bummer to go back to square one, at least the split was amicable and didn’t occur because of anything negative in the relationship. Also, while I continued to search for a new agent over the next few years, it gave me time to continue honing my writing craft.
THE PIKES PEAK WRITERS CONFERENCE
When the 2010 Pike’s Peak Writers Conference rolled around, I printed up some sample pages from one of my novels (an urban fantasy) along with a list of all the attending literary agents and editors who were interested in the speculative genres. This was my third time attending PPWC, and while I’d gone to previous conferences for the workshops and learning the craft, this time I wanted to focus on networking. I was determined to speak with and make a quick pitch to all the people on my list. Over the course of the conference, I was able to connect with each one, including Betsy Mitchell, the editor-in-chief of Del Rey. Then came the pitch session, which paired me with Scott Hoffman of Folio Literary Management.
I brought the first five pages of my story to the session, though didn’t expect to actually do more than describe the plot and hopefully snag Scott’s interest. While I was pitching the novel, however, Scott pointed at the pages, asking if they were from the manuscript and if he could see them. I handed them over and waited nervously as he flipped through, half-expecting him to decline right then. However, he requested the whole manuscript, saying he liked what he saw so far. I was in high spirits the rest of the conference, and sent the manuscript to Scott (as well as to a few other folks who’d asked for it) the day after I returned home.
TWO FOLIO AGENTS WEIGH IN
Two months went by, and by then I’d heard back from a couple agents with their variations on “Thanks, but no thanks.” I sent a follow-up e-mail to Scott, checking to make sure the manuscript had actually gotten to him and not been lost in cyberspace, as has happened to me a few times. He replied quickly, saying he’d read and enjoyed it, and had given the manuscript to Rachel Vater, another agent at Folio Lit, to get her opinion as well. As soon as she finished reading it, they’d be in touch. So I spent the next week trying to think about anything except what their verdict might be.
On the following Monday, Scott e-mailed and asked when I’d be available to talk on the phone. We made an appointment for Wednesday afternoon, and by the time it rolled around, I could hardly contain my excitement. Scott offered representation, which I gladly accepted. After our talk, I had to go on a long walk to calm down so my coworkers wouldn’t think I’d ingested some illegal substance.
Since signing on with Scott, he and Rachel have provided some revision feedback to get the manuscript ready to shop around. We’ve discussed some of my other novels, along with a sequel to this first one, and the entire process has been encouraging, inspiring and fun. Having such a top-notch agent is a thrill in itself, and while I know there’s plenty of work ahead, it’s the kind of work I’m more than happy to take on.
If you're writing fiction and want to
make your prose sizzle, check out
The Fire in Fiction by agent Donald Maass.