Acquiring an agent is like hunting. Minus the weapon—unless you consider your manuscript a weapon, but then slamming an agent upside the head probably won’t make the best first impression, however lasting it might be. No. I’ve learned a lot this past year as my husband took it upon himself to teach me how to bow hunt. Enter Katniss, Hunger Games, and all those wise cracks—I’m used to it—but I’m not shooting people. FYI.
Hunting is an art. Learning wind direction so a deer can’t smell your apparently crazy repugnant scent. Showering in scentless soap, using scentless deodorant, wearing clothes left hanging outside so you smell like the wind (yeah that’s warm clothing to crawl into, I’m tellin’ ya), and so on and so forth. Whether you like hunting, think it’s inhumane, or are just plain not interested, if you’re looking for an agent…we learn to hunt.
I’ve been writing since I was 13. That a mere 10 years ago. (That’s a lie, but I’m allowed one for 2014 so I’ve been told and I just used it up). Now that I’m 23 (wink), it’s been an awfully long journey. If you’re a regular agent-hunter, you’ll already know you need to study what you’re going for. The agency—its credibility, the agent—their clientele, the published books they rep—prolific and widespread or obscure paperbacks. Once you pick your favorite, you print out their picture and hang it on your fridge, stare at it every day until it fades after years of staring back and your quest to find that perfect agent becomes a hobby with slim rewards. But as every good hunter knows … you Never. Give. Up.
After—ok, let’s be real—24 years of writing, looking, learning, going to conferences, a few pathetic excuses for queries, I was ready to pitch the crazies at ACFW 2013. And I did. I landed 4 pitch sessions. I mailed in my full manuscript to two of them, and a proposal to the others. Within a week, my email blinked. And I quote:
- “Your hero is incredible awkward” (well, I wrote him to be that way, but—whatever)
- “Your heroine is boring” (also wrote her to be a bit dull and plain—success?)
- “You’re not ready for the big time”
…and wait for it …
- “But keep it up, you have potential”
Joyful. I have potential. With a capital P. Yeah. *Jaime bangs head against wall
My crit partner told me not to let it drag me down. It did. For five minutes. But, I’m like that. I poured myself a cup of coffee and then took a scentless shower and went hunting. For real.
Can I give you some sage advice? When you finally get THE email—you know, the one that says “I loved your story! I’d like to talk to you about representation”—don’t be deer hunting, twenty feet off the ground, in 20F weather, with a face mask on and the inability to scream let alone make a peep. Especially, when your insanely die hard, hottie, bow-hunting husband is not too far away and will probably shoot his arrow in your direction to get you to be quiet.
Yes. It happened. To me. The email from my agent, Mary Keeley, of Books and Such Literary Agency, blinked across my smart phone while I was perched in a tree. The only thing I could do was feverishly text my husband “I GOT AN AGENT” (well not quite, but it was coming), then hop on FB Messenger and tell one my besties to scream for me since I couldn’t. Which she did, and scared the diaper off her baby girl. And my husband’s delightful response via text? “Cool.” He’s not prolific—which is why he married me.
The grand point in all of this…don’t discount what God can do. In the end, I hunted, I planned, I coerced, I planned, and I targeted the agent who deemed my hero incredibly awkward. But my agent? Our Spiritual connection is out of this world. God aligned it for us to meet…why?...outside of another three blogs worth of “happenstance”, her son had just texted a picture of him, you guessed it, bow hunting. Now THAT is not a coincidence. God will bring you, in HIS time, to the agent HE has meant you for. In the meantime, don’t just “keep it up” as if you have somewhere you’re supposed to be. KNOW that you ARE where you are supposed to be as you seek His will and His perfect timing.