Friday, January 24, 2014

HUNTING for Your Agent~ A Guest Post with Jaime Wright

Photo credit
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.



27 comments:

Casey said...

Welcome to the Alley, Jaime!! So glad your hear and if your writing is anything like your blog posts, you're going to be a SOLD writer in no time. :-))

Jessica R. Patch said...

Great encouragement, Jaime! :)

Jeanne Takenaka said...

Great post, Jaime! LOVED it. You made me laugh out loud.

I appreciate your words of wisdom and encouragement. :) I've done a little agent hunting, but I keep coming back to God's timing. It's perfect. Always. And I'm leaning into that truth and resting on it.

I've shot with a bow and arrow, but never been bow hunting. :)

Julia M. Reffner said...

LOVE it! Lots of laughter moments just in this post, so I'll bet your books are full of them.

BTW, the thought of bow hunting is to me, almost as scary as the thought of agent hunting...ALMOST.... :)

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Ha!! Great post, Jamie! I always love hearing the agent journey stories. Just as great when you hear that NYT bestseller has a stack of rejection letters to their nose but they stayed the course and stuck it to all those critics. Writing is art... it's so subjective. Some people will love what you write, others will hate it. That's the name of the game. As though it's never a fun exercise in humility, at some point those rejections make you rise up and defend what you write and why you love it. In that, we find our niche.

Thanks so much for being our guest on the alley today and for the entertaining post. (Though I'm thinking you should have posted a picture showing us your inner-Katniss.)

Laurie Tomlinson said...

You didn't tell me you'd be here today! Yay! Happy to have been a small part of this story <3

PS: You should have told the Steve Laube story...

Halee said...

Wait, you mean you don't shoot people? :( And here I thought you could help me with my murders.

Angie said...

Such a great post! I love your voice. Thanks for visiting the Alley today, Jamie! Great words of advice.:)

Jaime Wright said...

Thx Casey! It's fun to be here! Writing historical can limit the snark but it shines through any way...I think....good or bad. :)

Jaime Wright said...

You were critical in this process, Jess

Jaime Wright said...

God's timing is also the most satisfying!

Jaime Wright said...

It's more scary for the deer ;)

Jaime Wright said...

I'm saving that pic for when I get an editor ;)

Jaime Wright said...

Muah!

Jaime Wright said...

Well murder is also a specialty of mine....literary style of course

Jaime Wright said...

Thanks for having me! You all are so much fun!

Preslaysa Williams said...

Loved this post. And you have such a witty voice, I can't wait to read your books when they hit the stores!

Megan Besing said...

Loved... and really can relate to the husband saying just "cool." It made me laugh. :)

Pepper said...

Jaime!
So glad to have you here! Wow, those agents are elusive targets, aren't they?
And the daunting task of keeping up your courage as you keep up the hunt? Good grief - NOT for the faint of heart!
Like you, I've been writing since I was a little girl...a mere fifteen years ago (winking back) and the waiting, hope, and perseverance certainly wanes under the continual beating of self-doubt. WHAT a blessing to have someone finally confirm your dream by requesting to believe in the dream with you!

Oh man - it's a good feeling - and one that so many people are waiting to experience too.

Way to share the hope, Jaime - and welcome to The Alley!!!

Ashley Clark said...

Jaime, thank you for being on the Alley today! I loved what you had to say, and it's such an encouragement, whether we're looking for agents or publishers, for that matter! Something similar happened to me in that I hadn't even planned to chat with my agent during the conference I met her (I thought she was too much of a superstar to take me on!), but God worked it out in His perfect way. It's amazing how God knows where we ought to be, even when we don't.

Ashley Clark said...

Jaime, thank you for being on the Alley today! I loved what you had to say, and it's such an encouragement, whether we're looking for agents or publishers, for that matter! Something similar happened to me in that I hadn't even planned to chat with my agent during the conference I met her (I thought she was too much of a superstar to take me on!), but God worked it out in His perfect way. It's amazing how God knows where we ought to be, even when we don't.

Ashley Clark said...

Jaime, thank you for being on the Alley today! I loved what you had to say, and it's such an encouragement, whether we're looking for agents or publishers, for that matter! Something similar happened to me in that I hadn't even planned to chat with my agent during the conference I met her (I thought she was too much of a superstar to take me on!), but God worked it out in His perfect way. It's amazing how God knows where we ought to be, even when we don't.

Casey said...

Ya'll had a party in here while I slaved away in the work force! So glad to see such a strong force come out for Jaime's post someday. She's going to have MANY beloved readers when they get a taste of this voice. I LOL'd when I read it! :D

Sylvia said...

I love awkward heroes and boring heroines. They stand out from the rest of the fictional characters in the market. We need more of those kind. Now I want to read this book just from those statements! :) So happy you have an agent now.

Mary Vee said...

Fabulous article Jaime. No wonder you captured Mary K's attention. Your post was light, fun, and interesting to read. Thanks so much for joining us on the Alley today.

Freya Morris said...

What an amazing story to tell! You were in a tree!! Life doesn't get more brilliant than that. Kudos to you for keeping quiet - not sure I could have.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Terrific post and CONGRATULATIONS!!!