Of course, I’m talking about finding that elusive literary agent. I found mine! I signed the contract on July 20th, 2017. I know there are lots of people that are still looking, so I thought I’d write the obligatory — How I Found My Literary Agent — post. My story is a bit wonky but hang in there.
It was a dark and stormy night….
Yeah, no it wasn’t. Gotcha! Here let’s do this thing correctly.
About ten years ago, I wrote this terrible book. Of course, I didn’t think it was terrible then. I thought it was sure to earn me lots of agent offers, a television deal would surely follow, and I’d become a millionaire within a year. None, and I repeat NONE, of those things happened. I finished it and I queried it. It all came to nada.
In fact, over the course of the last decade, I have written six books. Five of which I have shelved after months (painful months) of rejection. I was almost ready to give up, but there was one more story idea that popped back up in my mind. It was an idea that I’d had about three years ago but had never written more than an outline for. So, I started prowling through my basement (this is the partial book, outline, story idea notebook graveyard in my house) to find that one elusive idea that just wouldn’t leave me in peace. Pieces, yes. It definitely left me in pieces, but not peace.
I finally found it. The outline and three different chapter ones that I had written by hand before deciding three years ago that I was WAY out of my wheelhouse to try and write this cozy mystery. I read it again. Yes, all three chapters were still poo. I tossed them all, but the outline wasn’t half bad. So I started tweaking it. Soon, the main character’s voice became louder and louder. Then, I had a good outline, beginner’s synopsis, and even a chunk of a decent query.
I moved to my laptop after deciding to give the first chapter one more attempt. It wasn’t terrible. The main character and her secondary characters started ‘talking’ to me, and I kept writing. Fourteen days later, I had a completed first draft. FOURTEEN DAYS! Yep, you read that right. It only took me fourteen days to complete the first draft. So, I tweaked, added words, fluffed up bits, and then I realized I was done. Within one month, I had completed a submission ready manuscript.
Annie Bomke of AB Literary is an agent that I followed on Twitter. She was always super kind, and we had some great non-writing related conversations prior to now. One night we even talked about the possibility of tree monsters when I tweeted that one of my neighbors was felling a tree with a chainsaw at nine o’clock at night. These tweets were public, so I don’t think she’ll care that I’m sharing this story now. She was just one of those people I enjoyed ‘talking’ with (if you want to consider that talking involves tweeting on Twitter back-and-forth). I had even queried Annie before with various other submissions, but she’d always gracefully (and super nicely) rejected me. I knew she liked mysteries though, so I decided to give it one more try.
To be rather blunt, I made a list of agents to query with this new, shiny cozy mystery, and she was one of the top three (She was the first one on the list, I willfully admit it.). I sent out those queries and I waited. I sent out those queries on June 21st, 2017. On June 22nd, Annie emailed back asking for the full manuscript. My heart stopped. I couldn’t email her back right away because I had never in my ten years of querying agents EVER gotten a full request for any of my other books. I was in a bit of a pickle too, because I was going to be away from my computer for the weekend. So, when I finally got a grip on myself, I emailed her to let her know that I was away from my computer for the weekend but would it be okay to send the full to her on the following Monday. She said yes. I will swear to each and every one of you that was the longest and most panic-stricken weekend of my life.
Finally that Monday afternoon, June 26th, the requested full manuscript went to her mailbox. Then, I settled in to wait. We writers are good at that, aren’t we? Being all patient and waiting and stuff. Yeah! I had resigned myself into a nice long wait, but it was for nothing. On July 19th, my cell phone rang. Some number that I didn’t recognize from California. IT. WAS. HER!!!!
I had done a bit a research on THAT CALL, you know the agent/hopeful writer call, but I forgot absolutely everything that I knew when I answered and she said it was her. It was okay though. We talked around some, but eventually, we got to my book and the best sentence I have heard yet to fall from a literary agent’s lips – I would like to represent you. I think my heart actually stopped for a quick three count. I got teary eyed after we hung up, and I didn’t sleep at all that night.
I was able to accept her offer immediately because, during the course of sending her the full manuscript, the other two agents had declined. One did so after requesting a partial, the other was one of those no reply means no agents, and the time limit had passed.
It was an easy decision for me to accept her offer, because I felt like we had the same vision for my novel, and basically my career. We got along well (our phone call lasted for right around three hours – yeah, that’s how well we got along), and Annie was my dream agent. She represents the kind of stories I discovered I had to write.
You see, I’ve learned in the last decade of writing what the industry is about and what it isn’t about, and I had it wrong. Once you find your genre, you’ll find your voice. Once you have those two tools in your writer’s toolbox, everything else seems to fall into place. And, it’s okay that you have to write a lot of stories and books in genres that wind up not being YOUR genre because the more times you discover what doesn’t work, the sooner you’ll figure out what does work for you. So, keep on writing, writers! After all, that’s what we do best!
If you’re one of those statistics and charts people, below I’ve written out my journey from just writer to agented writer.
June 21st – Queried Annie Bomke of AB Literary
June 22nd – Annie requested the full manuscript
June 26th – I actually sent the full manuscript
July 16th – Annie called me to offer representation
July 20th – The agency contract was signed
Time to write the first draft: 14 days
Time to revise and edit for submission: 1 month
That’s it in a nutshell, and now I get to work with the fabulous ninja agent Annie Bomke of AB Literary to make a book and a beautiful writing career.
Keep on, writers. The next agent you query may very well be YOUR version of Annie.