“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Shoshanna Evers, author of ENSLAVED. These columns are great ways for you to learn how to find a literary agent. 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 email@example.com and we’ll talk specifics.
Shoshanna Evers is a critically-acclaimed author who has written
dozens of sexy stories, including Amazon Erotica Bestsellers OVERHEATED,
and ENSLAVED, Book 1 in the Enslaved Trilogy from Simon & Schuster’s
Pocket Star imprint. Her work has been featured in Best Bondage Erotica 2012
and Best Bondage Erotica 2013, the Penguin/Berkley Heat anthology
Agony/Ecstasy, and numerous erotic BDSM novellas including Chastity Belt
and Punishing the Art Thief from Ellora's Cave Publishing. The
nonfiction anthology Shoshanna Evers edited and contributed to,
How To Write Hot Sex: Tips from Multi-Published Erotic Romance Authors,
is a #1 Bestseller in the Authorship, Erotica Writing Reference, and
Romance Writing categories. Shoshanna is a New York native who
now lives with her family and two big dogs in Los Angeles, California.
She loves to interact on Twitter and Facebook.
Our Meeting at the New Jersey RWA
I’ve always loved hearing about how authors found their agents. This is my story. In late 2011, I went to a New Jersey RWA meeting where they were having a panel of agents and editors talking. The whole thing was fascinating, and I ended up being late to the group buffet lunch that they had going on after.
By the time I got downstairs, every table was full, except for one seat next the lovely Courtney Miller-Callihan of Sanford J Greenburger Associates. So we spent lunch chatting about our toddlers, etc., and at the end of the day I asked if I could query her. No pitch, just if she wouldn't mind if I emailed her a pitch.
The next day she requested the full and followed me on Twitter. A few weeks went by, and she @-replied me on Twitter saying she was loving my manuscript and would get back to me ASAP.
I called all my friends and asked what they thought ASAP meant in literary-agent speak. Ten seconds? Ten days? Ten weeks?
A couple weeks later she emailed to set up a time to call, but there was no offer or anything, so I still wasn't sure what that meant…
I told her I'd be signing cover flats at the Ellora's Cave booth at BEA 2011 the following day if she wanted to stop by and say hi. She did, but neither of us had time to chat since she was busy being an agent and I was busy being an author. So when I was done signing, we went and got lunch and talked about the toddlers again and then SHE OFFERED TO REPRESENT MY BOOK! And that's how it went.
I was thrilled, naturally. Still thrilled! The cool update is that Courtney sold the book she acquired as part of a six book deal to Simon & Schuster Pocket Star. The Enslaved Trilogy and the upcoming Pulse Trilogy.
My Original Query Letter:
I’m going to put my own notes to you guys in bold italics so you can see why I wrote what I did.
Dear Courtney Miller-Callihan: Spell the name right, use the whole name. This isn’t time to be cutesy or unprofessional!
It was great meeting you on Saturday at the NJ RWA agent/editor panel. I enjoyed chatting with you at lunch :) I remind her where we met, which helps make the query more personal. I have a manuscript I'm seeking representation for, if you're interested in seeing it I'd be happy to email you a copy (and I'll make sure it's *not* in Courier New). This is a joke, since Courtney made a comment on the panel about hating to read in the Courier New font. I’m showing her I’m friendly and that I was listening. But when in doubt, don’t joke, because it won’t always sound right.
THE PULSE is a completed 76,000-word romance set in post-apocalyptic New York City. I told her the name of the manuscript, the approximate computer word count, the genre, and that it’s complete.
It’s been one year since an electromagnetic pulse destroyed America’s infrastructure and took down the power grid, throwing the country into a new Dark Age. This first sentence is designed to draw her in and get her excited to hear about the book. Then I go into the blurb, which should sound a bit like back-cover copy. I cut the two-paragraph pitch to save space here, but later Courtney used that pitch to sell it!
This is the first book in a potential series. Notice I’m not trying to pitch more than one book at a time to her. I just mention that it could be a series. Sure enough, after I signed with her, she requested a synopsis of the entire Pulse Trilogy.
I write erotic romance under the pen name Shoshanna Evers. Here I listed the publishing credits I had at the time—a few small-press books and one anthology with a NY pub. I’m happy to say that I can now add about another two dozen books and anthologies with a bunch more on the way. It’s been a busy few years.
Thank you for your time and consideration. I'm glad we got a chance to meet in person :)
Shoshanna Evers And that’s it. I ended it by thanking her, and closed professionally (if you consider a smiley emoticon professional, which I do).
So…I hope the query letter helped some of you are crafting your own queries. Yes, I had been published already before I started querying (which just goes to show you don’t necessarily need an agent to get published in the first place), but the fact is that she wouldn’t have taken me on if she didn’t think she could sell the book. Which means if you have an awesome book, even if you aren’t yet published, you can probably get an agent for it. Best of luck!
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Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:
- Query Letter Writing Guidelines.
- New Literary Agent Seeking Clients: Pooja Menon of Kimberley Cameron & Associates.
- 5 Things Agents Can Do to Make Writers' Lives Easier
- From Self-Published Memoir to Traditional Book Deal.
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