Author website, Blog

How I got (and then lost) my agent.

Hands up if you love these posts.

Yep, me too. I would scour other authors’ websites about how they got their agent like their luck would pass onto me somehow.

I’d been querying for over a year when that “luck” did pass to me. First I queried a mystery manuscript that got a bunch of rejections and some requests (how I don’t know as my query was a mess and my pages still needed a ton of work). What was surprising about the rejections was that I had a few agents tell me I should write young adult (my manuscript was written for an adult market with a twenty-one-year-old protagonist).

I honestly hadn’t considered writing for young adult but I loved reading it and thought it was worth giving it a shot. So I came up with a brand new concept rather than ageing my mystery manuscript down. My new concept was based on an idea of what if you could meet Snow White in real life?

I wrote the new concept in a month, entered it into Pitch Wars, got no requests and then entered it into another mentoring competition called YA4YA and was amazingly selected by my fantastic mentor Jessica Conoley.

I worked with Jessica and some brilliant critique partners and beta readers, did a bunch of rewrites and revisions and was then ready to query. I love querying. There is such a buzz and adrenaline rush in the sending and the waiting and the requests and even the rejections. I love it all.

So I sent my new manuscript, called Finding Snow, into queryland. I got a lot more requests than I did the first time I queried – although I also queried around fifty agents this time – and, of course, I got a lot of rejections too.

Then two months later, I got the email I had only read about. An agent loved my book and wanted to have THE CALL. I honestly couldn’t believe it! So a few days later I had the call and I was offered representation. Did I dance? Yes, I did. Was there wine? Hells yes. Pizza? Do you even need to ask?

I sent out emails to all the agents with outstanding fulls and queries and was amazed at how quickly responses came back, some stepping aside, lots of requests, and plenty of lovely words about my writing and the offer.

Then it happened. I got an email from an agent who was top of my list and she also wanted to chat. Dancing, wine, pizza? Yep. All the yeps. After talking to this agent I knew she had a great vision for my book and would push me hard (I’d live in pyjamas if I could, so I needed this). I accepted her offer and repeated the dance, wine, pizza thing.

Me after receiving my agent offer. (Yep, wine)

This is normally where the “How I got an agent” post ends. Like a kiss at the end of a romantic movie. The happy ending. The fade-out.

Only, this is not how the story ends because life isn’t a fairy tale – even if you can write a retelling of one.

I got to work with my new agent and I was chuffed beyond belief. She was everything I imagined. She pushed me so far out of my comfort zone and suggested I write Finding Snow from scratch. It was the best push and I loved her for it. We planned my next few novels. I studied books she assigned for me. It. Was. Awesome.

Then there was a plot twist. A midpoint, if you will. It happened quickly (and no, I won’t go into specifics due the personal nature of what happened). One minute I had the most kick-ass agent and then I didn’t. I wasn’t the only one. All my agency siblings were in the same boat as the agent was no longer with the agency – and none of it was particularly pretty. I know all of us ex-clients will not be the same after what we went through because of the agent’s actions.

I felt like the world had dropped out from beneath me. I questioned every decision I had made leading up to this moment. Should I go back to the other agents who were interested? I suddenly had no confidence in myself or my manuscript (given I was writing it from scratch and hadn’t finished that process). I didn’t even know if I could believe what an agent/agency said anymore. I’d always trusted my gut and this time it had let me down.

Only that wasn’t true. I still stand by decision to choose the agent I did. She had a solid reputation (so I thought) and had the best editorial eye – to this my agency siblings and I all agreed. We can’t control what actions others take in their lives and agents are only human after all. I just wish authors were better protected by the agency that they signed a contract with – and maybe they are. I know the situation was a unique, but surely not unheard of.

Was there dance, wine, pizza? Just wine. Lots of wine. Okay, and pizza. Lots and lots of pizza. Ugly crying replaced dancing. I put Bridget Jones to shame – let me put it that way.

There was nothing I could do. It was out of my hands and not what I wanted, but I had to move on and make a new plan. So I released myself from the agency, took a deep breath and dove straight into writing a new manuscript.

I also decided to age my mystery manuscript down to be YA in five days and entered Pitch Wars again (yep, I was back where I was a year ago). I got two full manuscript requests (wine!) but didn’t get selected (more wine!)

And here we are. You still there? (Amazing, given my lack of GIFs). So now I have to decide which manuscript I’m going to query, go back out into queryland, and hopefully get the happily ever after of my agency dreams. All I know is, things will be a bit different this time around. My eyes are wide open even though my writer heart is still a little (lot) bruised.

So #amquerying legends. I’m back here with you (soon) and hopefully I will have a “How I got my agent (and kept them)” post for you soon.

Until then. Dance. Drink wine/tea. Eat pizza.

I should say write, too. Yes. Write. Do all the writing. *sips wine*