How I Got My Literary Agent: Rebecca Brooks

“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Rebecca Brooks, author of the erotic romance, ABOVE ALL. 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. Rebecca's agent is Andrea Somberg of Harvey Klinger. GIVEAWAY: Rebecca 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: blondie560 won.)
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“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Rebecca Brooks, author of the erotic romance, ABOVE ALL. 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: Rebecca 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: blondie560 won.)

Rebecca Brookshas backpacked alone through India and Brazil, traveled by
cargo boat down the Amazon River, climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, explored ice caves
in Peru, trekked to the source of the Ganges, and sunbathed in Burma. Her first
novel, ABOVE ALL, (Ellora’s Cave, July 2014) has been called “a beautifully
powerful story,” “SEXellent,” and “a thinking woman’s romance.” Her books
are about independent women who leave their old lives behind to try something
new. Find her on Facebook, Twitter @BeccaBooks, and Goodreads.

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The First Query

When I finished my contemporary erotic romance, Above All, I knew I didn’t want to send a million queries only to realize after a million rejections that there was more I could to do my opening pages and pitch. So I did my research and picked 10 agents that I thought were really top notch. When the first agent I contacted wrote back immediately requesting the full, I thought for sure I was on my way.

I decided to also submit the manuscript directly to 3 romance publishers that accept unagented submissions. There are different schools of thought about this. If a publisher rejects the book, an agent can’t pitch it to them later. But I wanted to explore all my options. What did I have to lose?

(How many agents should you contact at one time?)

One agent I especially had my eye on was Andrea Somberg at Harvey Klinger. She has a great track record and works in a variety of genres. Above All is steamy, but it also has a strong story component. As more of a crossover between romance and women’s fiction, it seemed like a great fit for her. I waited anxiously for her response. The first agent had been so enthusiastic. Why wasn’t my inbox filled with requests?

You can guess where this is going. I got form rejections or radio silence from every other agent. The one interested agent passed. Andrea didn’t even want to see the full.

I could have continued to query—10 isn’t a very large sampling—but I decided to put the manuscript aside for a while. I hoped that if I came back to it in a few months, I’d be able to see what was missing. I truly believed in Above All, but I needed some distance before deciding what to do next.

The Book Deal

Five months passed and I was hard at work on my second romance, How to Fall. Out of nowhere one evening I got an email from Ellora’s Cave, one of the publishers I’d submitted to and the last I had to hear from. I admit that I barely bothered to read the email. When I saw “Thank you for your submission,” I thought, Oh well. It was worth a try.

But then the next line said “Congratulations.” I was so confused. It took a few more readings for it to sink in. Ellora’s Cave had accepted my novel. I’d completely skipped the agent stage. I was going to be published.

(See a list of literary agents who seek romance.)

The Second Query

I didn’t need an agent anymore. I had an editor at Ellora’s Cave who was great. I’d also connected with another agent who agreed to negotiate the contract even if she didn’t represent me. But I still wanted an agent. I wanted someone to help me build my career and navigate the publishing world beyond my first novel. So I set out to query again.

What a different experience. Thirty minutes after I pressed send, Andrea requested the full. Three days later, she sent me an email that made me cry. (Admittedly I’d been pretty stressed out, but still. It was a really nice email.) Not only did she love Above All, but she really got what my writing is about. I contacted other agents who had the manuscript to let them know, but after two long phone conversations with Andrea, it was an easy decision.

I’m not saying that if you’re looking for an agent, go snag a book deal first. Nor is the idea to bombard the same agents with repeat queries because surely they’ll like the book if they only sit down and read it. My point is that the process from book to agent to publisher—or from book to publisher to agent—can be roundabout, slow, and full of surprises. I can’t say exactly what led Andrea to decline to read Above All the first time around. But I’m glad I tried her again. I like to think she’s happy that she gave it a second look, too.

GIVEAWAY: Rebecca 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: blondie560 won.)

How to Blog a Book by Nina Amir discusses
how to slowly release a novel online to generate
interest in your writing and work.

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