How I Got My Agent
Like many stories of this sort, it was a long time coming. Specifically, it took me two manuscripts, 142 rejections, 4 partial requests, and 5 full requests, before I got my yes.
Here's how it happened.
I sent my first ever query in March, 2020. In fact, I sent my first 50. Why not get it all over with, I asked myself? Why wait? So off they went, 50 queries to 50 agents, and within minutes the rejection letters started to arrive.
Good, I thought. Get those out of the way, and my agent offer will follow.
Except, it didn't.
This was partly because my query letter was crap, partly because my book wasn't ready to query, and partly because it was 2020 and my story was too dark for the times.
But mostly because my book and my query letter weren't good enough.
When I realized that, I took action:
I sent the book to my critique group, and I revised based on their feedback.
I submitted my book to #Revpit and got some great editor feedback on the first 50 pages
I hired that Revpit editor, Miranda Darrow, to do a fantastic developmental edit, which led to more beta-readers and revisions
I participated in Twitter pitchfests, gaining a following if not any agent likes
Most important, I began to draft my next book
After all this, I was ready to send more queries. I'd already racked up 50 rejections, so I went slowly this time, in batches of 5 and 10. I got a few bites which went nowhere, but that didn't bother me as much as it might have because by now I was neck-deep in my next story and certain--absolutely certain--that this book would be the one to land me an agent.
When a year rolled around, I decided it was time to query my new manuscript.
I took it slowly this time: Many, many beta-readers and revisions. Many, many eyes on my query letter. When I was finally ready, I sent out my first 10 queries and began writing a new book. Better to have another manuscript in progress when the offers began to pour in, right?
None did. Just more rejections.
I drew a grid label "My 100 Rejection Goal" and taped it to the wall of my writing area. I checked off a box for every rejection I'd received to date. When I hit 50, I'd get myself something nice. At 100, I'd consider pressing pause on this book, though the thought broke my heart.
I sent more letters out. I tweaked my query and tried again. And again. And again. I got a dev edit done and revised again. I bought a first-50-pages critique which led to a major revision. More beta readers. More queries. More changes to my opening pages.
When half a year passed with no bites, I took a big step: I hired a query pro. Query Quill read my opening pages, my synopsis, and helped me draft a new query, completely different from the structure I'd been trying.
I sent three new queries out and went to bed. At 5:30am I woke up, ready to write, but first I checked my email (as you do while querying), and saw something that made my entire body freeze up: my first full request.
I couldn't believe it.
I scrapped my writing plan for that morning and instead spent the hour formatting my manuscript; something I hadn't done, thinking it bad luck to be ready for what might never happen. Times New Roman, double spaced, 12pt font, chapters starting on a new page, and BAM. I sent it in.
I immediately sent out 5 more queries and got busy on my new manuscript, trying not to refresh my email too obsessively (impossible). Time passed with no word, and nobody else requested pages, so I changed my query letter again, revised my opening pages again. A few partial requests came in, along with more rejections, until...
Four months later, I got an email from the agent with my full, asking if I'd be interested in having a zoom call. When my heart started beating again, I replied that I was absolutely interested.
We zoomed. We got along. She offered representation. And it was the hardest thing I've done in a long time to ask for 10 days to notify other agents of her offer.
I searched my heart repeatedly during those 10 days, reviewing and re-reviewing the conversation I'd had with my offering agent. We'd meshed. We had the same vision for my career. So when the 10 days ended, there wasn't a doubt in my mind that accepting her offer was the right move; for me, for us, for my stories.
I could have accepted immediately. I could have done that and it would have been fine, but those 10 days gave me time to simmer, to consider my options, and to weigh what truly mattered so I'd be sure to make the right decision. It's a career partnership, after all. Not something you want to make with tingling hands and blood pounding in your ears.
What I'm trying to say with all this is, don't rush. There's no hurry. Take your time, stick with it, keep revising, keep writing, and what you want for yourself, for your future, for your career: it will happen. It might take 142 rejections, but it will happen.
Never give up.