"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.
Kathleen Mulroy is a Californian-turned-Idahoan.
She's worked in the publishing field as an editor
and writer, been a winery tour guide, taught reading
to kids, and, most importantly, been a wife and
mother. She's a freelance writer whose credits
include a historical Christian romance, The Silver
and the Cross. Her second book, Violet Victorious,
is available on Kindle and through lulu.com. Her
third book in her series, set in turn-of-the-century
northern Idaho is tentatively called Into the Fire, and
it will be handled by her new agent. She's also
writing a paranormal romance and a YA fantasy.
A BOOK WITH A BOOKSTORE
How did I get my literary agent? Three words explain it: Persistence, Acceptance, Patience. Recently my first book, a historical inspirational romance, was published. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons I won’t go into, it is only being sold online (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders Books). Since what I really want is to see my book(s) on the shelves of at least a few bookstores, I decided I need a literary agent to guide me through the troubled waters of the publishing world.
I had just finished writing another historical inspirational romance, so I thoroughly researched literary agents who handle that genre. (I write in other genres, too. Currently I’m working on an adult paranormal fantasy and a YA fantasy.) I used Guide to Literary Agents as well as online resources including writersmarket.com, AAR (Association of Authors’ Representatives), and ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers). I chose three agents who had informative websites, seemed to be accessible and agreeable, and had a good track record of selling books to publishers. Then I sent each of them an e-mail or snail-mail query letter, depending on their preference.
FIRST AGENT TO RESPOND
Leslie Stobbe was the first agent to respond, and although he had some problems with my manuscript, at least he didn’t outright reject me. I was definitely encouraged by that fact because since I became a serious writer about a year and a half ago (in other words, a writer with the goal of selling books), I’ve been rejected lots and lots and lots of times by both agents and publishers. It’s definitely true that a writer has to develop a proverbial thick skin; mine must be several inches thick by now.
Les made a couple of suggestions about how I might improve my book and I liked what he said. I promptly e-mailed him back saying “The changes sound great, I made them, and here they are. What do you think of the book now?” It took several e-mails back and forth between us and a few more manuscript changes on my part before I began to get the feeling Les just might be interested in being my agent. I was being persistent (but not too pushy, I hope). I accepted his better judgment, which was based on many years of experience and success in the publishing business. And I was being admirably patient; at least in my mind.
SOMEONE IN MY CORNER
About a month after I first contacted him, Les offered to send me an agent agreement. That was a very happy day in my household! Now, as Les sends out my book, the waiting begins. It is a wonderful feeling, having someone like Les in my corner, because he knows which publishers accept what types of books and how to successfully present a book proposal to those publishers. Les is saving me time and energy by doing what he does best, and that’s time and energy I get to channel into doing what I love best: writing.
If you're writing fiction and want to
make your prose sizzle, check out
The Fire in Fiction by agent Donald Maass.