"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 firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll talk specifics.
Nikki Katz is a young adult writer and
can be found all over the Internet. She
blogs at her own website and participates
in two YA group blogs: (YAKnow and
Oasis for YA. She can also be found
on Twitter @katzni.
ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE
I’m one of those people that have been to several writing conferences, written several manuscripts, networked with several agents … and I’m also one of those people that have several rejections in her inbox. Dozens, if I’m to be honest.
But I was not disheartened. (I know now that I started querying way too early.) I immediately went in search of beta readers, joined a critique group with two girls from my local SCBWI chapter, joined YALitChat, polished, revised, polished, and revised some more. Throughout the process, with every change, I would query a couple more agents. And with each edit, requests for partials begin to increase as well. In fact, if you were to do an analytical study on my query results vs. manuscript edits—you’d see a curve begin to form. At least I was moving in the right direction!
IT TAKES A VILLAGE
Even with these increasing requests (even some for the full manuscript), I still wasn’t getting an agent who wanted to represent it. However, I did get great feedback … invaluable feedback. And then I got similar feedback from someone else. And then one of my readers suggested that an entire plotline be stripped, as it wasn’t really necessary.
You know what? She was right. They were all right. My entire village had helped me nail the big problem. See, when I initially wrote the manuscript, this particular plotline was required to get from Point A to Point B. But after all my interim edits, it wasn’t necessary anymore, and honestly it didn’t quite make much sense.
So, I decided to conduct a major edit—cutting out about a quarter of the book. I rewrote the entire beginning of my main character’s relationship with her boyfriend, worked on the characters and voice, and added in new scenes. Finally everything felt cohesive and I was truly ready to submit.
A FAST REPLY
I queried Bree Ogden (of Martin Literary Management) after seeing she was looking for clients on this GLA blog! Bree responded the next day, asking for the full manuscript (and a two-week exclusive). Within five days of receiving the manuscript from me, she offered representation. I honestly couldn’t believe it! I now was one of those people jumping up and down and screaming while my kids looked at me like I had sprouted a second head.
Bree and I talked on the phone two days later and she answered all of my questions and then some. She was very easy to talk with, and genuinely seemed to love my novel. It was such a great feeling to have found an agent who loved my work as much as I did.
If you're writing fiction and want to
make your prose sizzle, check out
The Fire in Fiction by agent Donald Maass.