Monday, July 12, 2010

I've Got an Agent... Now What? or Match.com for Writers/Agents

Many of you are wondering what happens after you ride the carousel and catch that elusive gold ring: an agent. At first, it feels like the heavens have parted and the angels are singing the most beautiful songs ever written only for you. A few days later, you're still dreaming about the angels and their harps, and about a week later, reality starts to sink in...

"I've got an agent, now I need to get back to work!"

The glamour wears off fast, but the gratefulness remains. For me, the time after finding my agent has been all about revisions; a continuous journey of learning and growing as a writer.

There are two points I want to make in this post:

1) Getting an agent is not the end, but rather a very important beginning.

2) There is no "right" way to find an agent. Trust your instincts, follow your own path.

Awesome Agent ("AA" aka Bernadette Baker-Baughman of Bakers Mark Literary) and I started working together in the middle of November after I finished the first draft of my YA novel. This is not "normally" the way things go, but it's important to remember there's really no "normally" in an agent search. However, one thing is fairly standard: you need to have your manuscript polished to within an inch of its life before you start querying.

My road was unique in that I'd been in communication with AA regarding a murder mystery I'd written when the YA idea came to me. She loved my new idea, and asked to read when I had my first draft completed. You can read about my journey here, but my point is, you need to trust your instincts, make the most of every opportunity, and have confidence in yourself and your writing.

Do any of you feel defeated or depressed or unsure or even hopeful? Whatever stage of the "trying to get an agent" process you're at, know this: you will find your way! Keep writing and treat the rejections for what they are:

a) a sign you're in the game;

b) proof that certain agents are not a good fit for you;

c) evidence that you and your future agent have not yet connected.

It's easy to get down in the dumps every time you get a rejection, but please know that's part of the process. It's like being on Match.com - you have to weed through the ones who aren't for you until you find your perfect match. The right agent will "get" your writing, love you for it, and want to do everything in their power to set your writing career in motion.

Oops, I lied, I have three points in this post:

3) DON'T GIVE UP!

I'd love to hear where you're at on your journey. Feel free to whine, scream, cry, boast, etc in the Comment Section.

68 comments:

Sybir St. John said...

As always, a timely post :) Deep in edits/rewrites for one of my stories and need to re-start the agent query rounds. So many ideas, so much to do!

Debra L. Schubert said...

Stacia, You will prevail, I have no doubt about it. You are simply amazing. ;-)

elissa said...

nice post! good points about rejection--there were so many agents who rejected me, and I felt devastated because I had built it up in my head that they were perfect for me, haha. but I love my agent so much, and I'm glad that things worked out the way they did in the end! (also omg yes to the don't give up point...it took me like four years and three novels of querying to get representation!)

Lisa Gail Green said...

Congrats on your agent! It really is like another beginning. I'm at the part where I wait while on submission via agent. And you thought waiting to hear back on agent queries was hard! It really is a lesson in patience. :)

Debra L. Schubert said...

Elissa, Thank you so much for saying how long it took you to find an agent. That gives so many people so much hope! And, I'm thrilled you found your "perfect match."

Debra L. Schubert said...

Lisa, I know that will be coming up for me sometime soon, and I'm already nervous about it. From what I understand, distraction is the key to staying sane while on submission! Best of luck to you - can't wait to hear your good news!

Heather said...

Hi, I found you through a tweet of Riley Carney's on Twitter. What a fantastic post, I couldn't agree more! After I got my agent I went through that stage of 'what do I do now?'. Once the revisions were done I started another book. Like you said, it's all about not giving up!

Candyland said...

My. God. i love this post. You nailed it. Everyone's journey is different and trusting you gut is a big part of it. I love that you found your agent with a 1st draft! It gives me hope!!!

Luckily, I've got so much going on right now I don't have time to cry about every rejection. I do have faith it will *happen* when it's meant to.
(PS I emailed you about something but maybe it landed in SPAM?)

Elizabeth Flora Ross said...

I am in the query process now, and it gives me so much inspiration to read success stories. You offer some good points and great perspective, too. Thanks!

And, since I met my husband on Match.com, I'm really loving that comparison! LOL

Debra L. Schubert said...

Heather, So glad you found me through Riley - that girl is so very special! And, I'm thrilled you love the post - it's so important to pass the hope along. ;-)

Debra L. Schubert said...

Candace, Please resend me the email - either I missed it, or it ended up in my spam. And, yes, don't give up. Keep on doing what you love and trust it will find its place in the world at the exact right time.

Debra L. Schubert said...

Elizabeth, Best of luck with your agent search. And, so glad to hear you found your honey on Match!

Stacey Graham said...

Great post! I'm a NF author and my only advice to thrown in is to have your book proposal ready to roll the minute they ask -- not wait two weeks to get it ready.

I had two agents ask for the proposal within minutes of sending my email and you have to be ready to roll. My AA made an appt that afternoon to call me the next day and we've been thick as thieves ever since. =]

Katie Ganshert said...

We got an agent right around the same time. You're so right about the initial feeling. But it does wear off. Now I'm in the land of submitting and WAITING! The waiting never ends. :)

Jemi Fraser said...

I'm approaching the querying stage. I'm giving my ms a polish or two. I'm doing agent research, working on the query & synopsis too.

I'm terrified! :)

Ruthanne Reid said...

Fabulous post, as always. :D I don't know how you manage to be such an incredible encouragement, but you really are, at least to me.

I'm in the SO CLOSE OH NOES boat right now - I've had requests a couple of times, even one full, and the last time was the closest yet: a rejection, but with some feedback.

It was an ALMOST THERE.

Which is both simultaneously maddening and elating. :D I just keep telling myself, only four years, only four years, the average is twelve years, just keep going....

Tawna Fenske said...

Great points all around!

I originally had four agents offer to rep me several years ago, and with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, I can say now that I picked wrong. Not that my first agent was bad at all -- it just wasn't the right fit. I've now been with my current amazing agent for 2.5 years, and it's kinda like a good marriage -- when it's "right," you totally know it.

I agree 100% with you that more writers need to understand that landing an agent (while a truly great feat) isn't THE END by any stretch of the imagination. It doesn't guarantee a sale, and it doesn't mean you can sit back and stop writing while the advance checks roll in. It's just the beginning of what you hope will be a mutually beneficial long-term partnership.

Great post, Deb!
Tawna

Heather said...

So true! I think a lot of people, before they get an agent, forget that getting an agent will only be the beginning of another very long road. Really, as writers, our work never ends. We've always got a new idea or a story waiting to be told. But since it's usually pretty fun it's not really work, either.

Debra L. Schubert said...

Stacey, Thanks for chiming in for the NF writers - so important to be ready to roll when the opportunities arise! Isn't that the Boy Scout motto? "Be prepared." So true! And, congrats on finding your perfect agent. ;-)

Debra L. Schubert said...

Katie, Yes, I remember, we did get agents at around the same time. Best of luck on your submission. I have no doubt that waiting to hear back from pubs is just as, if not more, stressful than waiting to hear back from agents. This writing gig takes strong nerves!!!

Debra L. Schubert said...

Jemi, Don't be terrified! Querying can be a fun process. Knowing you're throwing your hat over the fence and playing with the "big boys/girls" can be exhilarating. Good for you for getting to that point, and if you want me to read through your query when you're ready, I'll be happy to. ;-)

Debra L. Schubert said...

Ruthanne, You've worked so hard at your magnificent writing, and you're well on your way. I'm one of your biggest cheerleaders - can't wait to hear the good news!

Debra L. Schubert said...

Tawna, So glad you liked the post, and also glad you wound up with your fabulous agent! You two are definitely a match made in heaven.

Debra L. Schubert said...

Heather, I'll read your comment again the next time I'm struggling with my writing! You're right, it is fun or, at least, it should be. That's an important reminder - thanks!!!

Jenn McKay said...

Great post, Debra! Very inspiring :)

Dorothy Dreyer said...

Great post! It so hits home. I'm querying my second time around. Nobody wanted my first manuscript, but to be honest, my query letter was crap. And the second and third versions of that query letter were also crap. The novel I'm pitching now has gotten some interest, even the query letter has won some awards. So I'm waiting to hear back from a few agents, and in the meantime I'm writing my third book.

Buffy Andrews said...

Thanks so much for sharing your journey. I’m still searching for that perfect match, for that agent who believes in me and my work. When I read stories like yours, it reminds me that there is hope. And you’re right. Each journey is different. You must follow your heart and listen to that little voice that says: this is the one. I hope that your writing journey is filled with many blessings and that both you and your agent have a lifetime of success.

Debra L. Schubert said...

Jenn, So glad you liked it - stay inspired!

Debra L. Schubert said...

Dorothy, It sounds like you're definitely on the right track. And, keep on writing. My YA novel that got me my agent was my fifth. Also, thanks for the RT!

Debra L. Schubert said...

Buffy, I wish you the best of luck on your journey, and deeply appreciate your kind words.

Kimberly Franklin said...

I've, yet again, just started a new story. Sometimes I feel like I'll never get to the point of the query, but then again, I don't want to waste mine or the agents time querying something that isn't good to start with. But it's something to look forward to, no matter how terrifying it is.

Also, I just wanted to let you know that I changed blog domains, so my new domain name is: www.kim-franklin.com

Have a great day!!

Fragrant Liar said...

This helped lift my spirits again: ". . . you and your future agent have not yet connected." Just a little glimmer of hope that I was in grave need of.

I am still working on my rewrite. It is a long and arduous process, that you just don't "get" at the start of it. I'll get to the end, I'm sure, but some days I just need a little more positive feedback, ya know?

Candyland said...

Ok. Just re-sent. Check your SPAM:(

Jack said...

I know where I am at in the game. My 17 best sellers haven't been published yet and I am still working on the screenplay for my favorite novel.

Good times I tell you.

Angela Corbett said...

You're so right about trusting your instincts! I'm currently at the stage of revise, revise, revise. I think my ms. is close enough to query, but close enough isn't enough. I don't want to send it out until it feels perfect!

Debra L. Schubert said...

Kim, Good for you for pressing forward until you feel you've got "the goods." Also, thanks for letting me know about the new website. ;-)

Debra L. Schubert said...

FL, I'm glad this post gave you a glimmer of hope. In many ways, we writers are all on this journey together. Supporting each other along our paths is a beautiful thing. Hang in there and believe in yourself and your talent! ;-)

Debra L. Schubert said...

CL, Got it, thanks!

Debra L. Schubert said...

Jack, Good for you. It's important to be realistic about where you're at in the process. ;-)))

Debra L. Schubert said...

Angela, You're a perfectionist, which is good. You have to feel great about your work before you send it off into the world. I can't wait to hear your good news!

Lara Ruth said...

Thanks for the perspective! I'm in the midst of the query submission process. I've had a handful of requests for my full proposal, but I'll admit I get too hung up on the number of rejections to balance. I like how you say rejections are "a sign you're in the game". So true. That brought my chin back up a tad!

Debra L. Schubert said...

Lara Ruth, So glad I could help! It's always best to concentrate on the positives, not the negatives. If you're being asked for fulls, you're on the right track. Best of luck, and keep me posted!

ninidee said...

I am actively seeking an agent(one has given me a glimmer of hope).
I totally agree that it is like Match.com. I often remind myself that I don't want any agent, I want the right agent. I trust that our paths will intersect and I will eventually be thankful that others turned me down,because if they didn't I wouldn't be with the one I am meant to be with (deep, I know).

K. Harrington said...

Oh such good, uplifting points you make here. Very timely for me, as I've been trying to find my perfect match for some time. :)

Debra L. Schubert said...

ninidee, You're absolutely right - the agent you're meant to be with will appear when the time is right. Keep moving forward, work at your craft, and believe in yourself. All best to you!

Debra L. Schubert said...

K, Keep at it, believe in yourself, and don't give up. This can be a very discouraging journey, but it can also be exciting and inspiring. Stay positive and concentrate on being the best writer you can be. Trust in the process. ;-)

Linda G. said...

Great analogy! You are so right about getting an agent not being the end, but rather the beginning. If you think you can write a book, and just hand it over to your agent to do everything else, well...let's just say that hasn't been the experience of any of the writers I know. Be prepared to keep on working.

I feel very lucky that I get along with my agent as well as I do. We have the same "this is a partnership" philosophy, and have been able to maintain a sense of humor throughout the submission process. I hear this part can take a while, so I am honing my patience skills. ;)

Debra L. Schubert said...

Linda, Yup, I've heard the same, that the submission process can be a long and patience-testing experience. Keep us all posted & best of luck to you always. ;-)

Nancy J. Parra said...

Great post and all of it true. Thanks for sharing! Cheers~

koralee said...

I have missed you too my friend..so glad you got an agent that is big news!
I so appreciate you...writing is hard work!!! I have been doing some articles for some magazines and it has not been easy. xoxoxo

Debra L. Schubert said...

Nancy, Glad you enjoyed the post. Hope all is well in your world!

Debra L. Schubert said...

Koralee, Love your new picture! I signed w/my agent in November, but I'm still so thrilled about it I can hardly believe it's real. Thanks, again, for bringing true beauty to the WWW. ;-)

SM Blooding said...

I'm in that awkward period where I've got requests for partials, but no one's really biting. I'm FRUSTRATED!!!!! The good news is that I write for fun. The bad news is, I would really like to actually SHARE my work with the public.

Ooohhhhhhhh...*siiiiiiiiiigghhh* Never give up. Never give up. Never...*growl*...give up.

Great timing on your post!

Frankie

Russ Viola said...

A very timely post for me. Thanks for the good vibes. I've just finished the third draft of my first manuscript. Based on a pitch, I had a request for partial from an agent. That was exciting and scary! In the end, it wasn't for him, so I'm back to the prospect of querying.
Do you know of any good Query Resources?
Thanks again for the hope and direction.

Debra L. Schubert said...

Frankie, "Never give up" is a great mantra. It's wonderful that you've had requests for partials - you are obviously on the right track. Hang in there!!!

Debra L. Schubert said...

Russ, You should check out Agent Janet Reid's Query Shark blog. Here's the link: http://queryshark.blogspot.com/

And, best of luck!!!

April said...

Thanks for the encouragement! That is definitely something I need since...I keep getting rejected. Of course, I haven't queried in awhile either.

Debbie said...

I appreciate all of this information that you take the time to give us. My son desperately wants to be an author and I need to educate myself to better help him.

Debra L. Schubert said...

April, Did you see how many rejections I got? Well over 100! You have to trust in yourself and keep on plugging away. If you want it enough and have enough faith in yourself and your talent, you will prevail. Hang in there!

Debra L. Schubert said...

Debbie, Knowledge is power. The more you know about the literary business, the better off you'll be. But, it's his job - not yours - to figure it all out. If it's what he wants to do w/his life, then he should be the one to investigate what's necessary to get his foot in the door.

That said, I'm a mom, so I understand your desires. But, it'll mean more to him if he takes the reigns and moves forward towards his desired destiny. ;-)

Julie Musil said...

Thanks for this encouraging post. I truly am just thankful that I'm in the game. While I go through this process, I'm taking every opportunity to learn more and improve along the way.

Debra L. Schubert said...

Julie, Good for you and best of luck!

Petula said...

Love this post. Reminds me to jump back on the bandwagon. My finding an agent moments are all over the place. I finished a children's book manuscript and haven't had any luck finding an agent yet. I'm working on a non-fiction book proposal and as soon as it spits from the printer (or the last word is typed and edit and revised!) I will be on the search for that one. My fiction projects are on hold - permanently or temporarily? Only time will tell. One thing at a time 'cause there are so many ideas and not enough time in the day.

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