Sunday, December 1, 2013

How I Got My Agent

I Have a Literary Agent!

Let's just pause there for a moment and savor how sweet that sounds and feels.

I am elated to announce that the wonderful Stacey Donaghy of Donaghy Literary Group is now my agent.

My wife once said, "You need to find the agent who will love your work as much as we do." I have found that person. Her energy is infectious and her vision is clear. I look forward to our partnership.

How I found her was strategic and tactical. With the help of my network, the power of Facebook and Twitter, and some old fashioned luck, I am able to announce this news today.

Like all things, there is a story.

It started on September 20th with an announcement from Marisa Corvisiero of Corvisierio Literary, a friend of the Southern California Writers' Conference (SCWC).

Stacey Donaghy had been with the Corvisiero Literary Agency until recently. A new agency meant opportunity.

But I had missed that announcement. Thankfully, my mentor and freelance editor extraordinaire, Jean Jenkins (JJ), had seen the post and emailed me. Connections: JJ is one of the original founders and a workshop leader at the SCWC. Therefore Ms. Corvisiero was on her radar.

"New Agency to try," Jean wrote.

I hopped to the Donaghy Literary Group site. Scoured the submission guidelines, what she was looking for, etc. Everything seemed like a perfect match but then...

Oh NO! Per the submission guidelines, the agency said they like the romance to be "steamy." I don't do fifty shades type of stuff. So I wrote JJ. "I don't think I can do steamy."

Undeterred, JJ said, "Query anyway. Sometimes your idea of 'steamy' isn't the other guy's."

With her words of encouragement, I went back to the site, but...

Oh No! The site said not accepting queries until December 2nd.

The bad news was that on December 2nd there would be an avalanche of queries. I could get lost in the slush pile. I took the hiatus to learn as much as I could about Ms. Donaghy. Interviews, Publisher's Marketplace, Tweets. RESEARCH. I also bought a book from one of her clients.

At the same time, literary agent Jessica Sinsheimer and I had been chatting up a storm on Twitter--mostly about coffee and food. She then told me she was about to launch another round of the popular "Manuscript Wish List" on Twitter. This is the event where agents and editors tweet about what they wish they had #MSWL in their inbox.

And when #MSWL started, I followed the feeds. Then I saw this.

Stacey Donaghy is looking for Romance -- check!

Stacey Donaghy will look at queries in advance if I mention #MSWL in the query -- check!

I didn't waste time. I queried her -- following the guidelines EXACTLY! Please don't make your own guidelines. There's a reason agencies have guidelines.

I waited. A few weeks later she wrote me. She liked the opening chapter. She wanted the rest.

A few weeks later she sent me THE email. She LOVED the manuscript. She wanted us to talk.

We had a call (THE CALL) and it was perfect and powerful and empowering.

On November 30th, this happened

And you know what, the whole steamy thing...well, JJ was right (again). Ms. Donaghy loved the manuscript as is.

Lessons learned:
  • Be involved in the writing community. Go to conferences if you can. Make friends and listen to experts. Learn all the time.
  • Twitter and Facebook are your friend. Follow those in the business. Listen, learn, interact, be interesting and appropriate.
  • Be opportunistic. Be ready to take advantage of lucky situations.
  • Don't assume too much. When an agent says first ten pages, they don't mean first fifteen. But there are some things that are less clear. If you are unsure what an agent may mean (ex. steamy) go with your gut and take a chance. A good story will always get the eyeballs.
Thank you all for your support. 

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Fight the good fight!

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