How I Got My Agent



I can’t think of a better inaugural post for my website than the classic, almost obligatory, “How I Got My Agent” post. If you had told me this time last year that I would have a literary agent, I’m not sure I would’ve believed you. And if you had told me that I would have an incredibly supportive literary agent who believes in my manuscript as much, if not more, than I do, I know I wouldn’t have believed you. It is all so beyond my wildest dreams!

I’m represented by Julie Gwinn at The Seymour Agency. Right now, she has my adult, historical manuscript out on submission to publishers. I thought, first, I would give a timeline of the process. For any writers who are thinking about querying, just know that it defiantly requires some patience.

In 2016, I started writing a historical fiction manuscript. I’d been writing forever, but this was the first project I ever finished and the first one I actually took steps to get represented by an agent.

4/21/2017: I sent my first (terrible) query letter.

4/24/2017: I got my first rejection letter. It was the beginning of a very long, often discouraging, process. I wrote a few more manuscripts, and I queried those, too. I received a few partial and full requests. All in all, I got over two hundred rejections.

2/14/19: I queried Julie with a totally different historical fiction manuscript. She hadn’t started accepting queries on Query Manager yet, like she does now, so I sent it to her email. For some reason, I am fairly sure I just sent the query letter, as opposed to the query letter and the first ten pages which is basically the industry standard.

2/17/19: Julie responded, wanting to know a bit more about the project. I can’t find the email where I answered her questions but I’m sure it was around the same day.

7/28/2019: Julie rejected the manuscript (as she should have! It wasn’t very good.) But she seemed so nice and knowledgeable about the industry that I kept her in mind for future projects.

4/1/2020: I started the first draft of what would become IF ALL ROADS WERE BLIND. As I researched and revised, I started compiling an agent list. Like I said, I kept Julie in mind so she was definitely on my list.

8/29/2020: I sent Julie a query via Query Manager.

9/6/2020: Julie requested the full manuscript. (By this point, I was on the seventh draft.) I was thrilled beyond words. I sent it the same day.

4/8/2021: I knew that, with the holidays and COVID, things were going a bit slower. So, I tried very hard to be patient, but in April sent Julie what querying authors refer to as a nudge.

4/10/2021: I woke up to an email from Julie, asking for a day and time when we could talk on the phone. I had heard that if an agent asks to talk to you on the phone, you can pretty safely assume that they are going to offer representation. Now, (and this is a VERY IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER) this is not necessarily true. But, did that stop me from getting my hopes up? No, it didn’t. Did I cry? Yes, I did.

5/3/2021: We finally talked on the phone. We talked for over half an hour. I knew, pretty much immediately, that Julie would be amazing to work with. At the end, she offered me representation and I sobbed and celebrated with my family at Olive Garden.

5/4/2021: Julie wanted the most recent draft. I sent that. She sent me a contract.

5/10/2021: I signed the contract, sent it back to Julie, and announced the news on social media.

5/27/2021: Julie sent me the edits for IF ALL ROADS WERE BLIND, done by her and her incredible intern Kate. I started working on them pretty much right away and it was so fun, getting to see their comments on something that had just lived in my head until that point.

6/1/2021: I finished the edits and sent them on to Julie.

6/7/2021: We officially went on submission!

And that pretty much gets us up to the present! Thinking about all of this and looking through the emails makes me want to cry. I have kept every rejection I’ve ever gotten. The important thing I can say is this: oftentimes, when an agent rejects your work, they say that it is not a fit for them or they do not feel strongly enough about it. And this can sting. But when you finally find the agent who does feel strongly enough about your work? It makes all the rejection worth it. It feels amazing.

So, #WritingCommunity, please do not give up! Keep writing that story that you can’t stop thinking about. Bring those character you think the world needs to know to life!

You’ve got this!