How I Got My Agent: Lisa and Laura Roecker

"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. Lisa and Laura Roecker are sisters-turned-writing-partners with a love of all things young adult. Their first novel, The Liar Society (Sourcebooks Fire) was released in March 2011. Kirkus said this of the book: “The authors create lively and memorable characters and keep the action moving in their whodunit.”
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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.

Lisa & Laura are excited to give away a free copy of their novel to a 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: Michael won.)

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Lisa and Laura Roecker are sisters-turned-writing-partners
with a love of all things young adult. Their first novel,
The Liar Society (Sourcebooks Fire) was released in
March 2011. Kirkus said this of the book: "The
authors create lively and memorable characters
and keep the action moving in their whodunit."
See L&L's website here and their blog here.

100 REJECTIONS

Picture this: Two young(ish) mothers bored with long days alternating between cleaning up baby poop and baby puke decided that they were destined to do something more exciting than recite Goodnight Moon from memory. After one particularly long bitch session about their Groundhog Day-esque existences they decided they wanted to do something “cool.” Unfortunately, these particular mothers had a set of somewhat limited qualifications:

  1. They liked to read (a lot)
  2. They watched a lot of MTV and other shows targeted to the 12-18 year-old demographic
  3. They enjoyed screwing around on the Internet

Apparently, these three things do not make you desirable candidates for brain surgery (who knew?) but they do give you a pretty decent shot at writing a young adult novel. So, we wrote a book. It took us a month. We had no idea that adverbs were frowned upon or that you’re not supposed to change POVs mid-sentence. We obsessed over Nathan Bransford’s blog. We cyberstalked Janet Reid. We read Guide to Literary Agents cover to cover. We wrote a kickass query and sent it to over 100 agents.

And we got rejected over 100 times.

LET'S TRY ANOTHER BOOK...

There were a few close calls, a lot of suggestions about how we might improve our writing and one absolutely gut wrenching “Not for me” from our dream agent, Catherine Drayton, after she requested a partial. Because we weren’t really qualified to do anything else (see above) and because we’d gotten just enough feedback to make us think that we might be able to write a better novel the second time around, we started a new manuscript in January 2009.

By the end of February we had finished the manuscript and incorporated comments from a handful of very smart beta readers. We were officially ready to dive back into the query wars. But this time we were prepared. Okay fine, more prepared.

ROUND TWO: TRYING CATHERINE AGAIN

We had a list of our top 12 agents who we queried the last time around. Catherine Drayton wasn’t on the original list because Lisa was a little scared of her, but Laura insisted. She was, after all, our original dream agent and dreams don’t die easy. We sent out 12 queries, got 6 requests for the full manuscript and a week later we had our first offer of representation. A few days after that we received two more offers of representation and to our complete shock, one of the offers was from Catherine.

After speaking with all of the agents on the phone and asking a lot of really annoying questions we were left to make one of the most difficult decisions of our life. At the end of the day it was Catherine whose vision for the series and our career most closely matched our own. Plus she still scared us a little and we figured a little fear might be good for our writing. We wanted an agent who would continue to push us to be better writers.

Best decision we ever made. Catherine is exactly the kind of advocate that every writer deserves to have in their corner. Plus we owe her big time for rejecting that first doomed manuscript. Unleashing that bad boy into the world would have surely triggered a publishing apocalypse.

Lisa & Laura are excited to give
away a free copy of their novel to a 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: Michael won.)

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The Writing For Children Master Box Set
has all kinds of things packaged together
for children's writers, all for one
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