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How I Got My Agent: Tracy Solheim, Author of GAME ON

“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Tracy Solheim, author of GAME ON. 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. Tracy's agent is Melissa Jeglinski of The Knight Agency. GIVEAWAY: Tracy is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (UPDATE: oldestgenxer won.)

“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Tracy Solheim, author of GAME ON. 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.

GIVEAWAY: Tracy is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (UPDATE: oldestgenxer won.)

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Tracy Solheim is the author of GAME ON, book one in the Out of Bounds series.
Book two, FOOLISH GAMES, will be released on December 3, 2013. Ms. Solheim
has been writing for newspapers, magazines, and television since she was a teenager.
She lives in Georgia with her husband and their two WIPs. When she’s not at the
barn with her daughter or working out with friends, she’s writing. See what
she’s up to at tracysolheim.com. Or on Facebook. Or on Twitter.

HERE'S THE SECRET: ... "DELTA AIRLINES"

As a debut author, the most frequently asked question I get at writers' conferences and other gatherings of aspiring authors is “What’s my secret to getting an agent?” What I’d like to say: write a good book and query the heck out of it. What I end up saying: Delta Airlines.

Yeah, that answer gets them every time.

This business isn’t always about writing the best book you can. It’s also about fate. Karma. Kismet. Chance. Destiny. Whatever you want to call it. Or in my case, just dumb luck.

I’d already written the best book I could—it was a finalist in two major contests. Now, I was ready to find an agent for my debut novel. So, being an overachieving government auditor, I did my homework. I took to the Internet and analyzed the data out there. Which agents were repping the type of book I’d written? Who was selling the most in my genre? From there, I came up with a list of the top ten agents I wanted to query. As luck would have it, two of my top five agents were accepting pitches at a writer’s conference hosted by the Northern Louisiana chapter of Romance Writers of America. Po-boys, crawfish and face-time with agents, it couldn’t get any better.

(Ever want to adapt your novel/memoir into a screenplay? Here are 7 tips.)

OFF I FLEW TO SHREVEPORT

The conference was a huge success—I was able to secure appointments with each agent and both requested a submission. Needless to say, I was flying high when I reached the airport for my return trip that Sunday. And that’s when things got better—or way worse, depending on your perspective. Who was at the gate awaiting the puddle jumper back to Atlanta? None other than Melissa Jeglinski of the Knight Agency, one of agents I’d stalked—I mean met.

Now, a savvier writer would have walked right up to her and made small talk; she’d already heard my pitch and requested the first fifty pages, after all. But my moxie is pretty much relegated to my keyboard and I figured she was ‘off duty’ for the weekend after hearing thirty or more pitches. I shyly greeted her with a smile and a nod and reached for my Kindle.

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That’s when the gate attendant made the fateful announcement: our plane had mechanical difficulties and they were flying in the needed part from Atlanta. Melissa and I had gone from polite strangers to stranded drinking buddies in two seconds. Okay, maybe not seconds. We actually endured eight hours of waiting. On a Sunday. In a state with blue laws. Yep, we didn’t get to the drinking part until they opened the bar at four in the afternoon--after we’d passed through security once for lunch and another time for an airport-wide evacuation. (I write fiction, but I seriously can’t make up the craziness of that day!) By the time we arrived in Atlanta, twelve hours after our scheduled wheels down, Melissa and I had struck up a friendship. As we left the airport, she said we needed to keep in touch and she reminded me to send off my pages as soon as I could.

By nine o’clock the next morning, I’d emailed my pages to her. Forty-five minutes later, she emailed me back saying she loved it and to send everything else I’d written. I’d made it!

Or, so I’d thought.

I didn’t hear from Melissa again. So much for keeping touch. Four months later, I tracked her down at another conference. She was still thinking about my novel, but I should go ahead and query other agents, she said. Ouch. I thought we’d had something.

(Should you start your novel with a prologue?)

SO IS IT FATE, LUCK OR KISMET?

So I did what every other writer does: I queried agents. After my top ten sent me letters or e-mails saying “it’s not you, it’s me” I moved farther down my list. Much farther. The rejections kept on coming. But, I kept politely checking in with Melissa. After all, she hadn’t said no yet. (Or gotten a restraining order.) So I persisted in nagging her for the next year. We had a bond, right? Finally, fifteen months after our adventure in Shreveport, she agreed to represent me.

How much did luck play into it? I honestly don’t know. Would Melissa still be representing me if we hadn’t spent eight hours stranded in an airport? Maybe, maybe not. Here’s what I do know: you still have to write a decent book. But here’s the woo woo part: even though I had a pretty good manuscript, editors weren’t buying sports romances two years ago when Melissa and I first met. They are now. See what I mean about fate, luck and kismet?

GIVEAWAY: Tracy is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (UPDATE: oldestgenxer won.)

Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:

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