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Monday, September 21, 2009

How I Got My Agent

Since I've managed to land an agent twice now everyone has been asking me what my secret is. I wish I had a simple answer to that question but as with everything in the writing industry, it was anything but simple. I'm a firm believer that the first agent I landed was a complete fluke. He must have seen the glimmer of a talent to be beneath the layers of soot of my manuscript. Unfortunately at the time he picked me up I just wasn't at the stage I needed to be and he wasn't really sure how to get me there. We have since parted ways but I will be forever grateful for the kick in the computer he gave me. I learned a lot about self editing while working with him.

I kept writing and working to improve my writing. Since getting that first agent I've completed five books and am working on the sixth. Never stop, that's the most important thing. I've attended the Hawaii Writers Retreat twice and their conference once. Because of it my writing is at a completely different level than when I first started submitting. I've been networking with other writers and learning from them. Two of them just debuted their first novels this year and are doing fantastic. During all this I've been researching the market, keeping up with the trends in my genres, and reading what's hot. A lot of this is simple stuff you can do yourself! Network and read, you'll be amazed at how much it helps your career.

When I finished my first young adult novel I edited it several times and started sending it out. I was much pickier this time about the agents I sent it to. I knew what I wanted in an agent and I only submitted to people who fit that bill. This time around I had a lot more read requests and far fewer rejection letters. Last time it took me over thirty five, this time under fifteen. That's what improving your craft can do for you!

So how did I get this particular agent? I met him in Hawaii in 2008 when I went to my first Hawaii Writers Conference. He loved my idea and we clicked rather well. But when I returned home there was already an offer of representation waiting for me. I let him know it was no longer available but that I would keep him in mind for future endeavors. When I finished my YA book (which is actually my fourth book) my current agent didn't want to represent it. He doesn't do YA. Since he hadn't sold my first book yet I wasn't overly disappointed. In fact, I was eager to submit to new agents since I had a better grasp of how to go about it this time. After a few months of submitting I found the business card for the agent I met in Hawaii. I e-mailed him and told him about my new book. He was happy to take a look at it. Nine weeks later I got the phone call that left my fence only half painted.

Persistence pays off!

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