It still feels unreal that I’m typing this post, but yes, I have an agent!!!
So, let’s backtrack a bit because it’s been a while since I updated this blog. My last writing update was back in April 2020 about revising my WIP with my mentor in the Author Mentor Match programme.
I first queried CODE GREEN SOCIETY back in December 2019. I tested the water with 6 queries and got all rejections, even though I did get a request for a full which ultimately turned into a rejection, the agent gave really good feedback that made me see that I still had a lot of work to do. At that point, I felt like I had done all I could with the manuscript so I took my chances and applied to the Author Mentor Match programme in February 2020. Working with a mentor helped me get to the heart of my story, and I worked steadily on the manuscript from April through August, in a pandemic panic. I ended up rewriting most of the manuscript, bringing it to a total of 7 drafts.
I started querying again at the end of August 2020. I had my eye set on doing #DVPit (a Twitter pitch contest) in October, if nothing panned out from the August queries. I sent out to 17 agents (a few were referrals – which basically inch you further up the reading list with no guarantees of anything), and I settled in for what I thought would be a long wait.
Then my mentor suggested that I do #PitMad (another Twitter pitch contest) in September. Honestly I hadn’t given it much thought, because I was so set on doing #DVPit.
Roll on to #PitMad in early September and I am completed blown away by the response to my pitch. The retweets, the agent and editor likes….
Talk about getting caught off-guard… my anxiety was off the charts and every time I refreshed my Twitter feed I there were more likes and I was scrambling to jot all the agent names down in a spreadsheet.
With my mentor’s help, we went through the list of agents and I queried 13 more agents (10 agents from #PitMad and 3 cold queries). By now I’m a bit nervous because I had already sent out 17 and it was too soon to hear anything back. My queries were out in the world and now it was time to settle in for what I thought would be a long wait.
So, I’m totally floored when the first offer comes 4 days later. Yes, 4 days. And it set off a flurry of events (more like a countdown clock) of contacting ALL the agents I queried to inform them that I had an offer. I attached the full manuscript, giving them the opportunity to read within a two-week window. Many stepped aside, a few even ghosted me, but I also received additional offers of representation.
I never thought I would be in a position having multiple offers to start with, but having to decide which agent I believed would be best for me and my writing career…it was an impossibly tough decision. Honestly, I don’t think any of the agents would have been wrong for me because they were all great and I know that they would support me and my work as best they could. I connected with all of them and I was humbled by their appreciation of my work. However, after having The Call, it ultimately came down to:
- connecting with the agent
- agent feedback and editorial ideas about the story
- agency reputation
- agent sales history and industry experience
- number of clients (I didn’t want an agent with too many clients)
- feedback from agent’s clients
- gut instinct
Ultimately, I made the decision based on the agent I felt would best champion me and my career. I was thrilled to sign with Danielle Burby at Nelson Literary Agency, and I can’t wait to see what great things we achieve together.
So here’s the thing, #PitMad was great and my query got a lot of visibility, but I didn’t get my agent from #PitMad. It was a cold query that caught the agent’s attention. Basically a shot in the dark. Pitching competitions are great but they are not the end all be all to getting an agent.
I’ve been writing since the early 2000s. My first published short story appeared in a national anthology in 2004. I never seriously attempted to write a novel until about ten years ago, and after many false starts and abandoned drafts, I started writing CODE GREEN SOCIETY around 2015.
I don’t have an MFA but I did a Certificate in Creative Writing at NYU and several online courses over the years. I’ve attended two writing conferences where I’ve gotten feedback from one on one sessions with agents/editors. I didn’t pay for any special editorial services, nor did I spike my anxiety by searching Query Tracker for fast-responder agents, or measure my agent request rate. Over the years, I learned to focus on what I could control. I invested in writing craft books, listened to writing podcasts and watched way too much Author Tube. And most importantly, I kept writing.
The work I did with my AMM mentor made the world of a difference. Everyone’s journey is different and getting an agent within a month of querying is definitely not the norm.
All of this is still sinking in.
2020 will go down as an unforgettable year. Good things are still happening. I’m celebrating ALL the wins. There is so much to be grateful for.
Fight for your dreams. After having a baby in 2016, my writing suffered. Returning to work in 2017 added the additional complication of balancing not only home and work life, but writing too. I had to first make time to write and then fight to keep it. Writing during the pandemic with a toddler at home was hard, but I persisted. Some days I got zero writing done but I kept pushing. I kept showing up to the page whenever I could, and I made it through to the end with a polished 56,000 word manuscript.
CODE GREEN SOCIETY is the third book that I’ve written but the first one I’ve ever been confident enough to query. I guess the first two were practice novels but I’m a strong believer that there are no wasted words. Every draft of CODE GREEN brought me closer to where I needed to be.
Having an agent means I’m one step closer to being a traditionally published author. I’m getting ready for revisions now and I’ve got so many ideas for new projects. Now the work begins.