How I got my agent

As you may know, I’ve accepted representation from the amazing Kelly Van Sant of D4EO Literary! I’m currently deep in revisions (which may warrant a whole different post), and the contract is safely filed away, but I’m still not quite sure it’s real. But some friends have asked for the details, so I thought I’d share them here.

This manuscript, currently titled Chiaroscuro (though that will change–we’ve already discussed it!), is my fourth. It’s about a magical art forger who’s on the run from her abusive art tutor who wants to use her powers for sinister purposes, and I originally wrote it as an Adult Contemporary Fantasy. After querying a few agents and entering it in a few contests with no luck, I decided that maybe this story was really Young Adult. That maybe I’d really been writing YA all along. I just had the feeling the voice was too young, and maybe the themes didn’t fit with the Adult age category. So I shifted a few things around, to bring the story fully into the YA category. And on top of those changes, I decided to switch the tense, from first person present to first person past. Whew! A couple months later, and I felt it was ready to query.

The second query I sent after all these major changes was to Kelly, early one morning. And she requested the full manuscript in 30 minutes.

I didn’t trust my eyes at first. Usually, when I got an agent email, I scanned it, looking for the words “unfortunately” and “not the right agent” and “good luck”. None of those words were there. I read the thing at least five times.

And then I had to go to work. I’d just started a new job after years of being a stay at home mom, and it was such a lifestyle adjustment, I barely had time to give the manuscript one more quick read (there were still tense errors I’d missed) before sending it. Kelly had to wait three days.

Another three days, and she sent me an email requesting a call. I opened it up at work and stifled a very loud squeal (it’s good I was working in the back room, alone). I so wanted to run through the office, screaming, but I’d just started and I didn’t want to freak out my brand new co-workers. I miiiight have done a little dance in my chair. Maybe. There were no witnesses, so you can’t prove it.

I marked the agreed-upon day on my calendar in LARGE UPPERCASE LETTERS  in case I forgot. And I researched “questions to ask a prospective literary agent”. I’m sure Kelly thought I was nuts when I started reading off the list with some gems like “can you describe your ideal writer”, but my starred questions were: was she an editorial agent (yes, she totally is, thank goodness), and what were her ideas to make my manuscript stronger (she has lots of them, great ones). And I really, really, really wanted to accept her offer of representation at the end of the call.

But I had other queries out. It had only been a week since I’d started querying. So I promised an answer in a week and notified all the other agents of my offer. Most didn’t respond, and a few bowed out. One said she would have requested an R&R, but ultimately stepped aside, and another requested the full but was unable to read it in time. I kept thinking Kelly might change her mind. But when I sent her an email accepting, and she AHHHHHHHed, I was ready to get to work.

I knew from the get-go that Kelly was going to be the right agent for me, and I’m so glad to have someone working with me on this manuscript. Her insights have been spot-on, and she really, truly is excited by my writing. After so many attempts and rejections, it’s an amazing feeling.

Now, I just have to get this revision finished!

 

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6 thoughts on “How I got my agent

  1. I’m really interested in your book not only that premise sounds interesting but because I’ve read your interview in your blog and she was so excited. She used to be my dream agent but sadly she rejected me 😦

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  2. Emily, I’ve been there. And the best advice I ever received was to keep writing. Your words are the only thing within your control. So continue to perfect them, continue to read, send your work to critique partners, find a group that understands what it’s like to pursue publishing, and write some more.

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