Yep! It’s true! I am now represented by Taylor Haggerty of the Waxman Leavell Literary Agency and I couldn’t be happier about it!
Every writer imagines what it’ll be like to get that blessed email from an agent asking if they’d like to set up a time to talk. But never in all my daydreams did I once see myself waiting on the meatloaf to finish in the over when that email came. Yes, folks. That’s the honest truth. Not my savory rosemary chicken with balsamic vinegar drizzle that makes mouths water, or even my ooey gooey lasagna that drips cheese from one end of the table to another.
Nope. My story involves meatloaf.
It needed a few more minutes, so I decided to check my email and there it was. Taylor, who requested my full manuscript just two weeks prior, had finished reading and wanted to talk!
I screamed so loudly my husband and daughter thought I’d been injured and came running into the living room. They said it was when my second scream split the sound barrier that they suspected what might be going on.
Well, that and the fact that I was half-hyperventilating while holding up my laptop saying, “Agent! Wants TALK!” or something like that.
A few more emails exchanged and we set up the time for the following day. I can honestly say I wasn’t prepared for how enthusiastic she was about my work. She also answered almost all of my questions before I asked them. But I promise I prepared for that phone call! (Twice actually, because my handwriting bugged me on my first set of questions so I had to rewrite them!) -Also a true part of this story.
Then came the worst part. Notifying all the other agents who had my manuscript or that had been recently queried–and waiting for a solid week. Oh the horror! I sent out a total of 31 emails in one sitting. Of those, nine agents immediately congratulated me and stepped aside, but eight other agents either asked for the full or promised to read before the following Monday.
Now, the better you do at targeting and querying agents that would truly be a good fit for your manuscript, the harder this part of the process is. I can honestly say there wasn’t a single agent I contacted who couldn’t have been a FANTASTIC fit for Oliver’s story.
Yes, I ate more than my fair share of Tums. I poured over every shred of information I could find on the agents who were now seriously considering my work. I paid for a membership to Publisher’s Marketplace to see sales histories and I took a harder look at the agencies they worked with. I asked myself tough questions. Even if they offered representation on Oliver’s story, would they also be interested in my other work? (Taylor was, by the way.) Did I have a preference for an agent in a small agency or a larger agency? What industry connections and networks could I see that they had, not only with publishers but with other agents?
No matter how many grueling questions I asked myself, I kept circling back to Taylor. She was everything I’d hoped to find in an agent. Enthusiastic, great industry connections both with editors and other agents, a well-respected agency, and she was open to my other works–all the ingredients I’d hoped for to create a career-long agent/writer relationship. Did I mention her enthusiasm? It was all I could do not to email the other agents and say, “Thanks for considering, but I really feel like Taylor is the best fit for me and my work.” I didn’t do it, but I really wanted to (and there are a couple of critique partners and Pitch Wars mentors who can testify to this, since they were the ones who talked me off that particular ledge). Anyway, you already know how this part of the story ends, since I’m now represented by Taylor, so I’ll stop gushing now!
Now, as a writer who was until very, very recently wading in the slush I know all the questions that I always wanted to ask. How long was I querying? Percentage of requests? Rejections? And more. For everyone who’s wondering about those kinds of things, here’s a summary of my data.
First, you need to know that Oliver’s story wasn’t my first completed manuscript. I began querying my first manuscript, A Girl Called Graye, in December 2013. I sent a total of 62 queries on AGCG before I stopped querying in mid-summer. I received eight full requests and all but one of these was rejected. The one that wasn’t flat out rejected resulted in a revise and resubmit from a small publisher.
After considering the revise and resubmit for a few weeks and getting more feedback from the rejections that were rolling in, I slowly decided to stop querying AGCG and turned my attention to my newest manuscript, Oliver’s Ghost Machine (OGM). It’s also here that I discovered the power of online writing contests.
I began querying OGM in May 2014. I sent a total of 63 queries on OGM and entered several of those contests I just mentioned. I’ll write more about these later, as they’re so important I really feel they need a post all their own. While I signed with my agent from a normal query letter in her slush pile, that doesn’t mean those online contests didn’t play a HUGE part in the development of the manuscript and query letter that ultimately got me there. All in all, I received a total of 23 requests (15 fulls and eight partials).
And one offer of representation!
*Cue Happy Dance!