How I Got My Agent: Cassie Alexander

“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. GIVEAWAY: Cassie 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: ukjb053 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 Cassie Alexander, author of NIGHTSHIFTED. 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: Cassie 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: ukjb053 won.)



Cassie Alexander is a registered nurse. NIGHTSHIFTED (May 2012
St. Martins) is her debut novel. Publishers Weekly said of the book,
"Medical drama and vampire cold wars intersect in this solid urban
fantasy debut."

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56 REJECTIONS...

I always knew I was on to something with NIGHTSHIFTED. Which was good, because it took ten months and 56 rejections to finally get an agent who agreed with me.

When I finished writing NIGHTSHIFTED and had buffed, polished, and shined it to within an inch of its life, I came up with a query letter and sent it to all the writer-friends I had. After their valuable input, and with permission to query their some of their agents while name dropping their names, I figured this was it. This would finally be the book. It was finally time.

Now, Nightshifted was my 10th book, and none of the rest were ever published. I’m no stranger to rejection -- which wound up being a good thing, because I got a ton of them.

(Agents get specific and explain what kind of stories they're looking for.)

BATCHES OF QUERIES

I sent out queries in batches of five a week. I figured that way if something was wrong with my query letter, I’d know. And right off the bat I got a ton of interest, requests for partials, the occasional full. I felt like I was truly on my way.

But slowly, one by one, interest shifted to polite rejections. My book was too dark, or they didn’t like the voice. Luckily, I was mature enough as an author to know that those were the kind of things I couldn’t change – but each of those rejections still stung. I had five fulls out over the summer of 2010, and I was so positive one of those agents would sign me. Imagine my slow-motion shock and terror as one by one, each of them said no.

Really, the only thing that saved me was that when someone rejected me, I copied their line off my spreadsheet and moved it to the bottom of the page. Eventually my spreadsheet was so full of people who hadn’t responded or were pending, I couldn’t see how many people had already passed. It wasn’t until a friend said they’d gotten signed after 76 rejections that I decided to count mine up and see where I was at – by then, it was 50. After being shocked (again!) I figured then, I could at least make it to 75 – maybe even down to 100. Until there were no agents who repped urban fantasy left.

(Secrets to querying literary agents: 10 questions answered.)

PATIENCE PAYS OFF

Then my now-agent, Michelle Brower (lucky number 46!) responded to me. She wanted to see the first 25 pages, then the first 100, and then she wanted to talk to me. Our talk went well, and then she decided she wanted to represent my book.

After that, things were easy. She had me take out 6,000 words and make some relatively minor changes, and then when she submitted it NIGHTSHIFTED sold at auction in under a week.

I feel so lucky to have finally found the perfect agent for me – and I’m so glad I kept trying, hell or high water, because otherwise I would not have gotten a three book deal.

GIVEAWAY: Cassie 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: ukjb053 won.)

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