Young Adult Author Gina Damico Discusses Her Agent, Tina Wexler - Writer's Digest

How I Got My Agent: Gina Damico

“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. Author Gina Damico writes young adult fiction, and her first novel, CROAK, was released in March 2012 from Graphia. She received a degree in theater and sociology from Boston College, where she was active with the Committee for Creative Enactments, a collegiate murder mystery improv comedy troupe that may or may not have sparked an interest in wildly improbable bloodshed.
Publish date:

“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Gina Damico, author of CROAK. 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 and we’ll talk specifics.

(Read a GLA Blog guest column by Gina's literary agent, Tina Wexler of ICM Partners.)

Image placeholder title
Image placeholder title

Gina Damico grew up under four feet of snow in Syracuse,
New York. She received a degree in theater and sociology from
Boston College, where she was active with the Committee for
Creative Enactments, a collegiate murder mystery improv comedy
troupe that may or may not have sparked an interest in wildly
improbable bloodshed. CROAK is her first novel.
Kirkus Reviews
said of the book, "The central mystery is genuinely puzzling, and
Lex’s narrative voice is funny and fresh. . . . Fantasy fans who like
their tales gritty and filled with irreverent humor will be eager for
the follow-up." Gina lives in Boston with her husband, two cats,
and a closet full of black hoodies.


Okay, I’m going to say this right up front so that you have time to lower your pitchforks and put down your cauldrons of burning oil:

I never had to query to get my agent.

A few years ago, I had a terrible HR office temp job wherein I was required to do absolutely nothing but sit in front of a computer. Boredom led to writing, and a book began to emerge. It soon became a behemoth. At around 150,000 words, I stopped, read it over a few times, did some editing, did some research, and ended up querying about eight agents, all of whom rejected me. And all with very, very good reason.

I didn’t get depressed, because I had expected this to happen. Getting a book published is a long hard slog through a swamp of muck and grime, or so all the advice books told me, and I was fully prepared for rejection. What I was not prepared for was the entirely different book concept that jumped into my head while the rejections were rolling in. It was way better. It had much more promise. So I started writing that one instead.

(Pay it Forward -- 11 Ways You Can Help a Friend Market Their New Book.)


Fast forward. New Book was ready to go, but before I jumped back into querying, I decided to give a conference a try. So I attended Michael Neff’s New York Pitch Conference, which is really more of a workshop on how to write a pitch for your book – a pitch that you then deliver out loud to four real, breathing editors from major publishing houses. So I went in there with my little book, worked on my little song-and-dance, and soon the time came to pitch it to the first editor. Michael introduced her, then also introduced someone else named Tina Wexler who would be sitting in on the pitches – he told us who she was, but I somehow missed what he said. I went through the whole morning thinking she was…I don’t even know. The editor’s partner? Her caddy? Just a casual fan of midday amateur writing workshops?

So I paid her no mind. I gave my pitch to the editor, and although she loved it, she didn’t handle YA (neither did any of the other editors, as it turned out). That random fangirl Tina said something nice about it too, and while I was happy to get positive feedback, I was a little saddened that it wouldn’t be getting me anywhere. But as time went on and more people gave their pitches, I started to realize something. This Tina person had a lot of insightful things to say. She seemed especially interested in the YA pitches. Slowly, it dawned on me…that key word that I had missed earlier when Michael had introduced her…


Agent who happened to specialize in YA. Agent who was a fan of snarky paranormal. Agent with ICM, a major international agency. Agent who loved and missed the TV series Dead Like Me, which was about Grim Reapers.


(Read another young adult writer's "How I Got My Agent" story: Robin Mellom, author of DITCHED.)


After the session, she gave me her card and I gave her mine, an embarrassing mess of flimsy cardstock that I’d assembled on my crappy printer the night before. Somehow she managed to stop laughing long enough to shoot me an e-mail requesting the manuscript, an email that was waiting for me when I got home. Needless to say, I soiled myself, then regrouped and sent her the pages a couple weeks later after one last hurried edit.

Wish I could say that she called me up the very next day and took me on as a client, but that actually did not happen until much later. See, Tina is hardcore. And I mean this in the best way possible. She wanted rewrites, and big ones – including a major shift in the world, and a complete revamp of one of the main characters. At first her suggestions made me want to jump out of a moving car, but the more I thought about it, the more they made sense. So I gave them a shot.

And sweet sassy molassy, am I ever glad I listened to her. I could tell that she really cared, that she had a genuine interest in my work and what happened to these characters, and that’s how I knew she was the one. That, and the fact that the book got exponentially better whenever I listened to her and made a change. She’s right about everything. It’s kind of creepy.

So in the end I never did end up querying CROAK, because the very first agent to take an interest in it was Tina, and we go together like peas and carrots.

(Which writers' conference is the BEST to attend?)

Image placeholder title

Writing a novel for children? Literary agent
Mary Kole, who runs the popular
website, has a new guide out for writers of
young adult and middle grade. Pick up a copy
of Writing Irresistible Kidlit and get your
children's book published.

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.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: The 3 Prime Rules of Horror Writing, Contest Deadlines, and More!

Welcome to the first installment of a new series! There's always so much happening in the Writer's Digest universe that even staff members have trouble keeping up. So we're going to start collecting what's on the horizon to make it easier for everyone to know what's happening and when.


Lenora Bell: When Fairy Tales Meet Reality TV

Bestselling historical romance author Lenora Bell discusses researching, avoiding info-dumps while still charming readers, and how her latest book was inspired by her life.


Three Keys to Crafting Chemistry Between Characters

Romance author Michelle Major explains her three go-to tips for ensuring your characters have believable chemistry.

Saving Money on Your Screenwriting Career

Take Two: Saving Money on Your Screenwriting Career

No one wants to break the bank to learn how to write a screenplay. Jeanne Veillette Bowerman shares practical tips on saving money on the pursuit of a screenwriting career.


10 Epic Quotes From Watership Down, by Richard Adams

Here are 10 epic quotes from Watership Down, by Richard Adams. The story of a group of rabbits who escape an impending danger to find a new home, Watership Down is filled with moments of survival, faith, friendship, fear, and hope.

WD Poetic Form Challenge

WD Poetic Form Challenge: Quintilla Winner

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


Plot Twist Story Prompts: Fight or Flight

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, it's fighting time.


Vintage WD: 10 Rules for Suspense Fiction

John Grisham once admitted that this article from 1973 helped him write his thrillers. In it, author Brian Garfield shares his go-to advice for creating great suspense fiction.


The Chaotically Seductive Path to Persuasive Copy

In this article, author, writing coach, and copywriter David Pennington teaches you the simple secrets of excellent copywriting.