Agent Ramblings

I thought I'd ramble about my journey to representation today. Just because your dream agent rejects you one, two or multiple times doesn't means she's not your dream agent. It means you're not ready, or it's not time. Or just not the right story.

I signed with Christine Witthohn of Book Cents Literary Agency in December, and here is the story of my journey.

I met Christine—via email—in 2006 and sent her partial (3 chapters). She called to ask for a full—I thought for sure she’d sign me, she called didn’t she? I sent the full, and then like the dork I was at the time, I submitted partials of everything I had to her. She had my work for almost a year, then right before Christmas she sent me rejections on all--nice rejections full of suggestions, etc.

But the story she liked—the first one I sent her the full of—she told me if I did the revisions I could send it back to her.

At the time I was knee deep in arrangements for our Utah RWA conference, which at that time was in January, that I just pretty much stopped writing. I was so discouraged that it took me a long time to finally read through my edits/suggestions from Christine. Though I finally did and used her suggestions.

You can all understand how disheartened I was. I submitted all my old manuscripts to the small epubs just because I was teatering on the edge of giving up. Something told me to hold out.

So I held on to the one Christine liked and my first book of my new series. I was positive the series would be my break even though Christine had only read the first 3 chapters of the first book, but had never suggested I could resubmit on that one. I still felt it was the one.

I had sort of stopped submitting to agents for about a year or so. I took all of Christine suggestions on the book she liked and the suggestions from the partial of the first book of the series. She really picked those three chapters apart and when I visited NYC I researched what she had said and she was right. Now I had thought I’d done my research because I’d been there before and I did use a map of Manhattan. But walking the actually area is so much more help than Google Earth and a paper map.

Okay anyway to keep a long story long, I’ve sort of digressed. I was finally feeling strong enough to start sending out my series to Agents. I still loved the story that Christine had first asked for and I continued to send it on my own to Editors.

Anyway, the series, the one that Christine got a glimpse of and gave me some good suggestions on—by saying how bad it was—I’d tossed out the first 3 chapters, re-written the last of the book, etc. I loved my characters and wanted to continue with the series. I finally felt I could send that out.

I sent to a few agents one of them gave me a very long and detailed rejection. Again I revised.
Then I saw Christine’s picture in an agent article in Writer’s digest and we needed someone for our Utah RWA conference. I gave her a call and it was good to talk to her again. However, I told the conference coordinator not to give me a pitch spot let someone else do it. I was taking her to breakfast Sunday and dropping her at the airport I’d have my time.

But in reality I hadn’t planned to pitch to her. Though from the minute she called me about that first story to that moment, in the back of my mind I felt a connection like she was the one. Still she didn’t like my work, after all she rejected everything I had sent her (about 3-4 stories) in the space of two weeks. As you can probably tell I had warring feelings.

On the one hand I thought Christine didn't like my voice or ideas, but on the other hand I had this feeling that she was the one.

Then we met and clicked and sure enough on the way to the airport we talked of my series and she wanted the full. And a few weeks later I got an email touching base saying she’d started my story and remembered it. LOVED the changes and the rest is history. Oh and the first story she’d originally asked for the full? She has that again and she still loves it so we’re going to hopefully find a home for it.

So don't give up. If you receive rejections from an agent you really think is a good match for you, revise and resend or send your next project. Keep your name in front of that agent.

Good Luck!


Lesli Muir Lytle said…
Long freaking road, isn't it? And all it takes you to is another road.

Lesli, who is tired of the dirt ruts and ready for asphalt!
Mary Martinez said…
And it's still a long road. So far we still do not have anything ready to present to an Editor. And then my personal road bumps haven't helped either.
darcee yates said…
Mary, Thanks for this. I'm such a chicken of heading down 'that' road that I had my second in command get our agents/editors for the How CONTEST. I'm always afraid of things that I know NOTHING about. So thanks for sharing. My phobia of agents/editors is something I'm eventually going to have to get over. For today, I'm just enjoying the process of writing story. My baby is still too much of a preemie. It needs to incubate longer before hitting the delivery room.
Thanks for sharing your story.
It is a long road, and it's harder when all of your friends / critique partners get a contract and I seem to be skipped... (sigh) But like you, Mary, I still keep trying and submitting...

Regan said…
Good advice and really helpful Mary. You are always the consummate professional. You also do what few of us have mastered and this is to always have your eye on the big picture while juggling the small details life throws at us. Here is to your HUGE success!
Anita Clenney said…
The search for an agent can be a terrible road to walk, but when you get the right one...oh boy, is it good. Christine is awesome. She changed the way I wrote within one conversation. So glad you persisted and are part of the BC family.
Mary Martinez said…
Darcee, part of the perks of being contest coordinator is contacting the agents/editors. Next time you do it!

Phyllis and Regan, I'm glad I stuck in when I felt like quitting. So you two don't!

Anita, I'm excited to be with BC. Fun group!

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