I'm a runner, Christ follower, proud Raven-puff, and weary grad student. I also write books of various persuasions. Welcome to my corner of the interwebs.


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How I Got My (Third) Agent

Just like the title of this posts suggests, this is my third time writing one of these. And I’ll be honest: it doesn’t get less exciting (or stressful).
First, some backstory…
The first time I ever queried, it was 2012. I was 21 and suffering serious senioritis in college. I’d never planned on querying, but my friends and critique partners encouraged me to try. After a long year, I finally snagged my agent. We sold my book in 2013, it released in 2015, and then that agent and I parted ways in 2016.
My second trip down Query Lane was in fall of 2016, but it ended with little success. Though I couldn’t find the right agent with that MS, I ended up querying again at the end of that year with a new project. An agent that had shown interest in me previously decided to sign me, and I was represented once again!
Then came a year of being on submission, with what felt like a million close calls.
And no book deal.
I was already disappointed, so when my second agent decided to leave the business this past July, I was feeling particularly low. But I refused to give up.
At the beginning of August, I took some referrals from my second agent. I also sent out cold queries. I’d read an interesting post by a writer that had just signed with an agent, who used what she called the “Kool-Aid Man Method.” Basically, it involved sending out an absurd amount of queries in a very short amount of time.
In the past, I’d always gone the cautious route: send out 5 queries, wait for responses, send more when you get those responses. But this time, I went all-in. Part of me considered this a last-ditch effort. I’d had two agents, and I’d been on submission for over a year. Maybe this was a sign: maybe it was time to give up. So if this was my last-ditch effort, I was gonna go big.
I got a few requests pretty quickly, but the rejections also came fast. It was pretty maddening.
Meanwhile, one of the referrals I’d been given was an agent who’d been an editor that had been interested in my MS but couldn’t buy it since she’d left editorial. She wasn’t able to take me on as a client because she was an assistant, but she was passionate enough about my work to pass on the book to a colleague at her agency. Of course, I didn’t know anything about this.
A month had gone by when #MSWL Day came around on Twitter. I was scrolling through the feed, looking for any more agents to query, when I ran across a few I hadn’t seen before. One was a newer agent who’d once worked at St. Martin’s. She said she was interested in adult SFF, thrillers, and books about spies, so I thought, “Why not?!”
Only a few days later, I got an email totally out of the blue. The editor-turned-agent who’d passed on my book to her colleague told me that colleague wanted to chat. So he and I set up a call, and to my total shock, he offered!
He was great: very kind, new but hungry, and enthusiastic about my work. I was feeling good about this agent, but I still had to contact the others that had my query.
The same day I nudged all the other agents, that one I’d found on the #MSWL hashtag replied, saying she wanted to read my full and that she’d get back to me over the weekend. I was headed on vacation for my birthday, so I tried to keep myself occupied.
But the next week, I got an email. The #MSWL agent wanted to talk on the phone!
I’ll be honest. Over the years, I’ve talked with a few industry professionals on the phone - my first agent, my second, and two different editors. I shouldn’t have been nervous for this one, especially when I already had another offer. But my lizard brain wasn’t listening to reason.
On Tuesday of the following week, I got on the phone with the #MSWL agent, and it wasn’t what I’d been expecting. She was enthusiastic about my book, yes, but she was also very professional, already talking about career planning and future goals. We discussed my academic/professional life and about my past in YA publishing. Throughout the conversation, I was impressed by her confidence and rationality.
So then I had a decision to make.
We all think we want to be in the position of having to choose between offers. And, yeah, I’ll be honest: it strokes the ego. You feel like there’s more confirmation that you and this one agent aren’t crazy.
But it’s also hard. You’ve got to say no to someone who’s, most likely, very nice and who’s become a fan. It was just an inkling into what an agent has to do every day, and I’ve gotta say it wasn’t fun.
In the end, the #MSWL agent just felt right. Which means…
I’m now repped by Jennifer Grimaldi at Chalberg & Sussman! Though I ended up with 5 referrals by my old agent, Jennifer and I connected through a cold query. I happened to have what she was looking for, and the god of fate was apparently smiling on me that weekend.
I’m very excited to be working with Jennifer as I make my first foray into adult speculative thrillers. When I was writing this book, I was constantly second-guessing myself, wondering if I was insane, if anybody would care about this story. Was it too weird? Too slow-moving? Too niche-y? I’m so very happy to report that it DID connect with someone else, though, and I can’t wait to get to work on shining it up for submission.
Querying, like all of publishing, relies on a heckuva lot of luck. Being in the right place at the right time.
But it also takes grit.
A will to just keep on writing.
Over the past 6 years, I’ve now had 3 agents, had 1 book published, and had 3 manuscripts go out on submission that never sold. I scrapped 2 others that just weren’t marketable (or, frankly, any good), and there were so many times when I wanted to quit. (Read: every other day) Y’all have no idea. I thought about it constantly.
But ultimately, I kept coming back to the same thing over and over: I’m not finished. There may come a day when the struggle of publishing isn’t worth it, but I’m not there yet. I’m still hungry. And if I’m not ready to quit, then I can’t give up on me and what might be.
So stay hungry, scribbling friends!
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