How I Got My Agent

It’s been a dream of mine to write one of these blog posts! I can’t believe I’m actually really getting to do this.

princess and the frog happy twirl

I entered the trenches in July 2014 with a YA fantasy that was so brilliant I was sure I’d have an agent in a week. Now, I look at that manuscript and my eyes burn. However, before I did that, I ended up on QueryShark! It took a looooooong time until I figured out how to write the best query I could, and now I consider myself pretty good at them, but it definitely was not easy.

Anyways, the fantasy garnered a tiny amount of requests until I eventually shelved the ms.  In January 2015 I began querying a YA contemporary and immediately saw an improvement, but that still wasn’t the right manuscript.

In the summer I started work on a new story. I fell in love with this story and my characters. It started to feel like The One.

I wrote the first draft in a mad dash of three weeks, and at 4:29am on July 8, 2015, I had 65,751 words and a completed first draft.

I set it aside for a bit so I could approach revisions objectively, but then got to work because Pitch Wars was coming up! Pitch Wars was like this dreamy amazing contest of wonders to me, and I really wanted to be a part of it. I relished the chance to work with a mentor, learn more about writing and revising, and perhaps gain a whole new community of writers.

I stalked researched all the mentors thoroughly. I read their wish lists; if they had been mentors in 2014 I read their mentee’s entries; I followed and interacted with them on Twitter. I made lists and then made more lists. Picking 5 people to submit to was hard, but I eventually did and sent my entry off! Even if I didn’t get picked, I was hopeful I’d at least get some feedback on the opening pages I could use.

Well, I got more than that. The amazing Kes Trester and Jennifer Hawkins requested my manuscript, and then they did this:

Pitch Wars List

The revision period of Pitch Wars consisted of 3 rounds of edits, a lot of Friday Night Lights fangirling, and Austin Powers gifs. Kes and Jen were fantastic mentors. They didn’t look over my shoulder, but I knew I could reach out to them whenever I needed them. I had an 8 page edit letter that never felt overwhelming. And I just worked, cutting and adding to the manuscript, delving deeper into my main character and her anxiety, learning new parts of her.

The other important thing I gained from Pitch Wars was the mentee group!! I don’t know how I would have made it through the Agent Round and all its horror/anxiety/excitement if I didn’t have that safe corner of the internet. I still love that corner of the internet.

All I have to say about Pitch Wars is you should definitely take a chance and submit your manuscript, because you never know. It could change your life. 🙂

parks and rec happy

In between PW revising and revising on my own/with CPs, I also found some beta readers, who offered invaluable feedback on my manuscript. So definitely get beta readers!!

The Pitch Wars Agent Round happened and I almost had a breakdown, but then I got a bunch of requests and I was happy and excited and like “I’m gonna have an agent by Christmas!! BEST CHRISTMAS EVER.”

ha ha. No. It took longer than I thought, but then finally, one day in March I got The Email of My Life.

sue excitement

It just so happened I was leaving for Toronto the following day. I nudged the other agents, packed my bags, and fluctuated between BEST DAY EVER and OMG ANXIETY STRESS BALL (so just like that scene in TANGLED).

It was a crazy hectic time full of all the emotions. I went on my trip, hung out with my friend and CP Alwyn Hamilton (#PenguinTeenOnTour), and refreshed my inbox constantly.

I got another life changing email in the airport on my way home Monday evening, and the joy of it carried me through the 2 extra hours I spent on Toronto’s runway (scary winds back home delayed take off D:).

On Wednesday morning, I was on the subway heading to class when I got an email from DREAM AGENT. It was short and said she wanted to talk.

I immediately called my mom, as one does.

parks dying dead

We went back and forth before we could arrange a time. Dream Agent had to push some stuff around to make my deadline, but when she got back to me she gave me plenty of availability to choose from on Friday. I chose 5pm figuring I might need some extra time between another appointment. But on Friday I ended up being free around 3 (much earlier than expected) so I sent Dream Agent an email telling her we could have our call at 4 if she was still free then.

The waiting was hard. I didn’t know how I’d pass an hour if I didn’t have anything to do.

I promptly got an email back with “I can call you now!” (cue: more flails)

So she called me. We talked for nearly an hour and it was lovely and I knew she was perfect for me. She was interested in my voice and my writing and just me. We had some laughs, talked books, and the future, and a part of me kept saying this is good, this is so good, this is everything. Now I know why it’s THE Call. This was the call.

I signed with Heather Flaherty (aka Dream Agent) at The Bent Agency, and I’m so excited to continue my writing journey with an amazing agent at my side.

this is what dreams are made up lizzie mcguire hilary duff.gif