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How I Got My Agent: Nicole Steinhaus

“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog. This installment is with young adult writer Nicole Steinhaus. "... Fast forward a year, two more manuscripts, three SCBWI events, an embarrassing amount of research on agents and writing craft, and I was ready to query manuscript number three. But I wasn’t about to make the same mistakes as before. This time I queried only a few agents at a time, revised based on their feedback and queried again. This process continued for seven months before deciding the manuscript needed a complete genre overhaul. I rewrote the story from scratch, mutating it from a contemporary to a dark suspense. Just before I was ready to query again, I came across Bree Ogden’s blog where she stated she was especially interested in darker plots..."

“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Nicole Steinhaus. 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.

(Can you re-query an agent after she's rejected you in the past?)

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Nicole Steinhaus has been everything from an awful catalogue
salesperson, a dolphin-trainer hopeful and a teacher. Somewhere
along the line, she fell in love with writing. Currently, she writes YA,
works as an editorial intern for Entangled Publishing, and runs YA
Stands, a community-based blog for young adult writers.
FRAGILE LINE, her YA suspense about a sixteen-year-old living
with multiple personalities, is presently on submission. You can
follow Nicole on Twitter: @NicoleSteinhaus.

CLUELESS

Let’s just say this: when I first jumped into the query process, I was clueless. And, no, it has nothing to do with my hair color. I bought the seven pound 2010 Guide to Literary Agents, scoured for hours through the pages pulling my hair out at this foreign language everyone seemed to know but me—SASE, mss, MC, WIP. With my first manuscript, I received over a hundred rejection letters…justifiably. What agent who represents women’s fiction would accept a YA paranormal query? (Yeah, I was one of those.)

(New for 2013: MORE Tips on Writing a Query Letter.)

SCHOOLED

Fast forward a year, two more manuscripts, three SCBWI events, an embarrassing amount of research on agents and writing craft, and I was ready to query manuscript number three. But I wasn’t about to make the same mistakes as before. This time I queried only a few agents at a time, revised based on their feedback and queried again. This process continued for seven months before deciding the manuscript needed a complete genre overhaul. I rewrote the story from scratch, mutating it from a contemporary to a dark suspense. Just before I was ready to query again, I came across Bree Ogden’s blog where she stated she was especially interested in darker plots. I sent her my query, and this was my pitch:

In FRAGILE LINE, sixteen-year-old Ellie Cox can’t remember—her childhood or how she got the tattoo on her stomach. It started out small… forgetting a drive home or a conversation with a friend. But her blackouts are getting worse, more difficult to disguise as forgetfulness. When Ellie goes missing, no one expects to find her in the apartment of another boy. Not even Ellie. Or her boyfriend, Shane. Another three days have escaped her and, as if that isn’t bad enough, the boy, Griffin, keeps calling her "Gwen." Ellie is branded as a cheater at school and, fighting for Shane’s forgiveness, she struggles to regain her three days and understand why she lost time in the first place. After discovering her biological last name, Ellie sets out to learn more about her past. And it turns out "Gwen" isn’t just a name Griffin calls her. Gwen is a real person. Living inside Ellie. Created by Ellie’s childhood mind to protect her from the horror she used to call home. Gwen now wants to take over Ellie and live her own life…at Ellie's expense.

MOVIN' ON UP

Two weeks after sending Bree my full manuscript, I received an e-mail saying she wanted to offer representation. She called that night and we talked (the first few minutes she spent telling me everything she loved about my story, which was good because I was literally hyperventilating). I’d had the full manuscript out to seven other agents, so Bree suggested I give them a week to decide. Can you say Longest Week Ever? I think I slept a total of five hours that week. Three other offers came in, but in the end Bree’s enthusiasm for the story won. I mean, she was complementing my extensive research on Twitter (not by name, but with the hashtag #youknowwhoyouare), emailing me with messages like “I can’t stop thinking about your story”…I was actually a bit smitten.

As of me writing this column, the novel is currently out on submission!

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