How I Got My Agent: Colette Martin

“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. Colette Martin is the author of LEARNING TO BAKE ALLERGEN-FREE (June 2012).
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“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Collette Martin, author of LEARNING TO BAKE ALLERGEN-FREE. 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 literaryagent@fwmedia.com and we’ll talk specifics.

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Colette Martin is the author of LEARNING TO BAKE ALLERGEN-FREE
(June 2012). When her son was diagnosed with eosinophilic esophagitis
in 2001, triggered by allergies to wheat, milk, eggs, soy and peanuts, she
had to reinvent how her family ate. Having first learned to bake in her
grandmother’s kitchen with wheat, butter, milk, and eggs, Colette
understands first-hand what it means to transform her kitchen to
accommodate multiple food allergies. Colette is Vice-Chairperson
of the Board of Kids with Food Allergies. You can follow her:
Facebook: Allergen-Free Baker, Twitter: @colettefmartin,
Pinterest: Colette Martin.

THE WRITER'S DIGEST CONFERENCE

The very first writer’s conference I attended was the Writer’s Digest Conference in 2009, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew I wanted to write a book about food allergies, but hadn’t yet nailed down the book concept.

I had read about the pitch slam, and I was intimidated. For those who have never attended one, it’s a bit like speed dating with agents – three minutes to talk to each agent (usually after waiting in a very long line). Oddly, there is no opportunity for the agent to read anything you’ve written; that first step is all based on a verbal exchange – something that can be difficult for many introverted writers.

Further, I had heard that agents were very hard to find, and I was under the impression that they were all tough, critical, and bossy. I almost chose to pass on pitching to agents, but a writing mentor encouraged me to go for it. I decided I had nothing to lose by participating, and I learned a couple very important things...

(Find a writers' conference near you and pitch publishing pros.)

I LEARNED THE FOLLOWING:

1. Agents are nice – far nicer than the people I was accustomed to dealing with in the corporate world. And while I dislike generalizations, I would characterize all of the agents I have met as polite, respectful, and helpful.

2. The book proposal is key. While I walked away from the event with business cards from three agents, I was unprepared for the next step. I had months of work yet to do on my book proposal.

So I kicked my butt into gear. I took classes on writing a nonfiction book proposal, and attended a query letter critique class. I knew that I needed to finish the proposal for Learning to Bake Allergen-Free by the time I attended the Writer’s Digest Conference in January 2011.

Going into my second Writer’s Digest conference, I was very confident with my idea – so confident that I opted to attend the sessions on self-publishing (as that was my backup plan). I researched the agents in attendance prior to the conference, and had my list narrowed down to eight that I wanted to meet (based on what they were looking for and what they already had in their portfolios), in priority order. I was ready to go.

(What does that one word mean? Read definitions of unique & unusual literary words.)

FACE TO FACE WITH SHAWNA MOREY

When the doors opened to the pitch slam I was the first in line at Shawna Morey’s table. I knew within seconds that she liked my idea, and we spent our three minutes strategizing the best way to position the book. I left that session with strong interest from three agents, and I sent my book proposal out to them the next day. I was thrilled when Shawna called me with an offer to represent me, and a couple weeks later I had signed with Folio Literary Management.

Within a few months I had a publisher, and in June 2012, Learning to Bake Allergen-Free: A crash Course for Busy Families on Baking without Wheat, Gluten, Dairy, Eggs, Soy or Nuts was published by The Experiment Publishing.

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