And it’s lovely up here! Whoa. I can’t believe I’m typing this, but I have an agent! And not just any agent, but my *dream* agent. I am honored and excited to say Laura Bradford has offered me representation. And the offer came even after she listened to me fumble and mangle the English language and have trouble putting sentences together during our phone call. When I woke up yesterday morning I had to check my phone to make sure it wasn’t a dream. Crazy.
I am no expert by any means, but I will offer some observations on a few things that really helped me toward my goal of acquiring my dream agent…
#1: Be a Sponge. Soak up everything you can about the writing craft. Read as much as you can. Books on craft, other writer’s blogs, a wide variety of fiction, Sift through it and pick out the parts that click with you. Try some on for size. Keep what works. Set aside what doesn’t. In between all that, you’re still writing, right? Write the best book you can. Have other people *not related to you* read it. Revise. Rinse and Repeat until it sparkles.
#2 Decide if you want an agent. Nope, you don’t need one. You might not want one. I did. I love the idea of a working partnership with an agent. Paying an agent a percentage of my earnings to champion my work, to focus on the subbing part so I have more time to focus on writing? Dude, I’m in.
#3 Research the heck out of possible agents. This step took me awhile, partly because when I started my research two years ago, I didn’t have any connections to other writers. Heck, I didn’t even know what a CP was! If you have other writer friends who have agents, you may already know a lot about agents and have some in mind. I didn’t, so I spent a month researching.
I read interviews with Laura Bradford and it was pretty much agent-love at first sight. “Our mission at the Bradford Literary Agency is to form true partnerships with our clients and build long-term relationships that extend from writing the first draft through the length of the author’s career.” Yes! This is exactly what I wanted. And look at some of the amazing writers she represents: Ann Aguirre, Jenn Bennett, Lauren Dane, HelenKay Dimon and Nan Dixon (Just to name a few.)
#4 Write the best query letter you can and then query your first batch of agents. Here is where I broke with the standard advice out there. I had read never start with your “A-list agents.” Start with your 2nd or 3rd tier of agents so you can see if your query letter is working, and improve it as necessary before sending it to your top agents. I didn’t do that. (I had a few contest wins I could put in my query letter, namely the GH, and that helped.) Pretty sure I sent my first query letter to Laura. I did also query about five other agents. All of them amazing and fantastic! But I was sure Laura was the right agent for my work.
#5 Don’t take rejection personally and be open-minded to critique. This one was important for me. I’d like to say it was love at first read when Laura read my manuscript. It wasn’t.
Yes, there were parts she really liked, but to be honest, there were also clunky, not so good parts. She passed. She actually passed on it twice, I think, but the second time she generously included some details as to why. Those details were golden. It wasn’t a rejection, it was a gift. I asked her if she’d be interested in seeing a revised version. She said yes. And I went on to revise the heck out of my manuscript and sent it back. Even if Laura had passed on it again, I already had a better book and had learned so much from my interaction with her. But to my giddy delight…She liked it. And offered to represent my work. Whoop, there it is. I’ll be floating down shortly and ready to get some serious writing done.