How I Got My Agent: Richard L. Mabry

"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. Richard L. Mabry is the author of Code Blue. A retired physician, he now writes Christian fiction and nonfiction. His book, The Tender Scar: Life After The Death Of A Spouse, was published by Kregel Publications.
Author:
Publish date:

"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 literaryagent@fwmedia.com and we'll talk specifics.

Image placeholder title

Richard L. Mabry's fiction debut,
Code Blue, is available now.



A FRUSTRATING START

I got my agent shortly after I quit writing. Sound unusual? Welcome to my world.

I started writing fiction in 2003. At that time, writers could approach editors without going through an agent, so access wasn’t a problem. The problem was that no publisher was interested in my novels. Finally, one editor told me that, if I’d revise two of my books with the help of an independent editor he recommended, I’d probably get a multi-book contract. Shortly after that, I approached an agent with this news, and she agreed to take me on. Unfortunately, it went downhill from there. I spent a ton of money with the independent editor. Then the editor told me the publisher had decided my work still wasn’t good enough for them. My agent concluded that there didn’t seem to be a market for what I was writing. It’s an understatement to say we were both frustrated.

I kept at it, but after about forty rejections, including a time when I tried to write in different genres (including a cozy mystery), I decided to give up. The agent and I parted amiably, and I put aside my pen (figuratively at least). I was through writing.

A SECOND CHANCE

I’d met Rachelle Gardner at one of my first writers’ conferences, when she was an editor. Later, I reconnected with her through her blog, and continued to follow her even after I gave up writing. Rachelle was now an agent, and she ran a contest offering a critique of the first 20 pages of a novel to the person coming up with the best first line. On a whim, I dashed off an entry. Doggoned if I didn’t win with the line: “Everything was going along fine until the miracle fouled things up.” (By the way, the first chapter of that unfinished work is still on my hard drive).

Having nothing fresh to send for critique, I sent Rachelle the first chapter of my latest book--the one that had been turned down more times than a Holiday Inn bedspread. Rachelle’s response was: “Send me something that needs editing.” I didn’t know what to think. Someone in the industry actually thought my writing was pretty good. Maybe I should give it another try. With a great deal of trepidation, I sent off an e-mail query asking Rachelle to consider representation. I anticipated the usual slow process, hoping to get back a request for a proposal, then a partial, maybe a full manuscript. Instead, I got a return e-mail: “Of course I’ll represent you.” I’m not sure my heart has stopped racing even now.

A NICE ENDING

Rachelle made some excellent suggestions for improving my novel, and working together we produced something she thought she could sell. At the ICRS meeting, she pitched the proposal to Barbara Scott, who was starting the Christian fiction line at Abingdon Press. Barbara asked for Rachelle’s hard copy of the proposal to read on the plane. Shortly after she arrived home Barbara called to ask for the full manuscript. Eventually she bought the book.

Now the happy ending. Code Blue was released April 1. And even better, Abingdon will publish the next two novels in the Prescription For Trouble series in the fall of 2010 and spring 2011.

You know how there are times when you hunt and hunt for something, only to find it after you give up? Well, that’s what happened to me in my quest for an agent and publication. It’s nice to be good. It’s even better to be lucky. I’d like to be both, but if I can only have one, I’ll stick with luck.

Image placeholder title


Richard L. Mabry is the author of Code Blue.
A retired physician, he now writes Christian
fiction and nonfiction, and works fruitlessly
on improving my golf game. His book, The
Tender Scar: Life After The Death Of A
Spouse, was published by Kregel Publications.


Flash Fiction Challenge

2021 February Flash Fiction Challenge: Day 27

Write a piece of flash fiction each day of February with the February Flash Fiction Challenge, led by editor Moriah Richard. Each day, receive a prompt, example story, and write your own. Today's prompt is to write something that makes you laugh.

Poetic Forms

Ars Poetica: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at ars poetica and the art of writing poems about poems.

Flash Fiction Challenge

2021 February Flash Fiction Challenge: Day 26

Write a piece of flash fiction each day of February with the February Flash Fiction Challenge, led by editor Moriah Richard. Each day, receive a prompt, example story, and write your own. Today's prompt is to write about an article of clothing.

Authors Share Tips on Writing Mystery and Thriller Novels That Readers Love

23 Authors Share Tips on Writing Mystery and Thriller Novels That Readers Love

23 authors share tips on writing mystery and thriller novels that readers love, covering topics related to building suspense, inserting humor, crafting incredible villains, and figuring out the time of death.

Jaclyn Goldis: From Personal History to Historical Fiction

Jaclyn Goldis: From Personal History to Historical Fiction

Debut author Jaclyn Goldis explains how her novel When We Were Young was inspired by her real-life grandmothers and how many times she rewrote her first chapter.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Forced Decision

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Forced Decision

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, force a character to make a decision.

Flash Fiction Challenge

2021 February Flash Fiction Challenge: Day 25

Write a piece of flash fiction each day of February with the February Flash Fiction Challenge, led by editor Moriah Richard. Each day, receive a prompt, example story, and write your own. Today's prompt is to write about a cryptid.

From the Practical to the Mystic: 7 Tips for Writing Historical Fiction

From the Practical to the Mystic: 7 Tips for Writing Historical Fiction

Bestselling author Erika Robuck provides her top 7 tips for creating an engaging historical fiction novel.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 559

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a short poem.