Skip to main content

How I Got My Literary Agent: Natalia Sylvester

“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Natalia Sylvester, author of CHASING THE SUN. 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. GIVEAWAY: Natalia 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: Pizzos3 won.)

“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Natalia Sylvester, author of CHASING THE SUN. 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: Natalia 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: Pizzos3 won.)

natalia-sylvester-author-writer
chasing-the-sun-nove-cover

Natalia Sylvester is the author of CHASING THE SUN (New Harvest/Amazon
Publishing, June 2014). Born in Lima, Peru, she came to the U.S. at age four
and grew up in South Florida, where she received a B.A. in Creative Writing
from the University of Miami. A former magazine editor, Natalia now works
as a freelance journalist and copywriter. Her articles have appeared in Latina,
NBCLatino.com, Writer’s Digest, and The Writer magazines.
Find her on Twitter: @NataliaSylv.

There’s a long version and a short version of this story.

THE SHORT VERSION

I went to a writers' conference in 2010 and ended up getting offers of representation from two of the agents I met there.

THE LONG VERSION: ATTENDING A CONFERENCE

I attended the Writers’ League of Texas Agents & Editors Conference in June 2010. I was just a light polish away from completing a final draft of my novel after having worked on it for nearly four years. I felt ready enough to start pitching agents.

What I wasn’t ready for was pitching it verbally. Though I’d practiced a short pitch in front of my mirror, my husband, and my dogs, I arrived at the conference a nervous wreck. It was a Friday night, and my 10-minute consultation with Brandi Bowles of Foundry Literary + Media was on Sunday. I resigned myself to practicing my pitch by my lonesome in the corner of the room when a fellow conference attendee approached me.

(Looking to attend a writers' conference? Start here.)

“So what’s your book about?” she asked. Within minutes, I realized this conference wasn’t just about networking with agents, it was about networking with other writers. Together with about four others, my new friend and I helped each other practice and hone our pitch. We worked out the kinks and the nerves. By the time Sunday rolled around I was feeling pretty confident. I sat down with Brandi and told her about my book.

And guess what? She didn’t offer me representation right then and there. What she did offer was feedback. Really great, spot-on suggestions for how I could make my work stronger before sending it out to agents.

I took it all in. Later that afternoon, when I had the chance to pitch another agent who requested I send him a full, I asked if he’d rather I send him the manuscript right away, or if it’d be okay if I took a couple of months to really polish it. “Always send the best work you can, even if it takes a little longer,” he said. It took this in, too.

Essentially, I left the conference with an important To-Do List:

1. Keep revising, taking into account the agents feedback I’d received.
2. Meet with my new writers' group that I’d met at the conference to get even more feedback.
3. Don’t rush. Query only when the book is ready.

Four months passed before I got through all these steps. I started querying in late October and within a few months had received offers from both Brandi and the other agent I’d met at the WLT Conference.

I call this the longer, more honest version of this story because the truth is this: You may not always walk away from a conference with an offer of representation. But if you keep your mind and ears open, you’ll definitely walk away with the tools necessary to get there.

GIVEAWAY: Natalia 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: Pizzos3 won.)

W7013

If you're think in the middle of writing your novel, WD's
Story Building Collection Kit is 6 items rolled into one
bundle at 69% off. The kit's books & webinars focus on
plot, structure, character, showing & telling, world building
first pages, and more. Available while supplies last.

Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:

Image placeholder title

Want to build your visibility and sell more books?
Create Your Writer Platform shows you how to
promote yourself and your books through social
media, public speaking, article writing, branding,
and more.
Order the book from WD at a discount.

Katrina Leno: On Writing Around an Idea

Katrina Leno: On Writing Around an Idea

Critically acclaimed novelist Katrina Leno discusses the process of bringing her childhood memories to magical life in her new young adult novel, Sometime in Summer.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: A New Podcast Episode, "Your Story" Prompt, and More!

This week, we're excited to announce our latest episode of "Writer's Digest Presents," the new "Your Story" prompt, and more!

Writer's Digest Best Live Streams, Podcasts, and YouTube Channels 2022

Writer's Digest Best Live Streams, Podcasts, and YouTube Channels 2022

Here are the top live streams, podcasts, and YouTube channels as identified in the 24th Annual 101 Best Websites from the May/June 2022 issue of Writer's Digest.

What Is Fan Fiction in Writing?

What Is Fan Fiction in Writing?

You might have heard the term, especially if you’re in online fandoms, but what exactly is fan fiction? Managing Editor Moriah Richard explains.

5 Ways To Use Short Stories To Grow as a Writer

5 Ways To Use Short Stories To Grow as a Writer

Short story writing can be a gateway to writing your novel—but they’re also fun and worthy stories in their own right. Here, author Dallas Woodburn shares 5 ways to use short stories to grow as a writer.

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Not Having an Online Presence

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Not Having an Online Presence

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so we started this series to help identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake is not having an online presence.

Shirlene Obuobi: On Writing From Experience

Shirlene Obuobi: On Writing From Experience

Physician, cartoonist, and author Shirlene Obuobi discusses the writerly advice that led to writing her new coming-of-age novel, On Rotation.

WD Poetic Form Challenge

WD Poetic Form Challenge: Kimo Winner

Learn the winner and Top 10 list for the Writer’s Digest Poetic Form Challenge for the kimo.

8 Things Writers Should Know About Tattoos

8 Things Writers Should Know About Tattoos

Tattoos and their artists can reveal interesting details about your characters and offer historical context. Here, author June Gervais shares 8 things writers should know about tattoos.