The Agent Search is Like the Bachelor

After reading Katy's post yesterday about discovering her wonderful agent, I was reminded of a post I wrote on my personal blog back when I was knee deep in my actual agent search.  Only in my version of the metaphor, the agent is the elusive Bachelor and us writers are all vying for that final rose ceremony.  I thought it would be fun to revisit this post a couple of years later, so here it is:

Originally posted on "From Unknown to Slightly Better Known" on February 15, 2010:

Submitting to Agents and Dating

I've heard the analogy, that finding an agent is like dating. After all you're looking for a long term relationship with someone who will love you (or at least your work), and who is communicative, enthusiastic, professional, etc.

Except its not like dating at all. Unless you're dating on the Bachelor.

Because let's face it, when you send out that query letter, you've already vetted the agent and presumably assumed that they have what it takes to market your work. The agent is the awesome guy that everyone is vying for. Now how to make yourself stand out from the pack?

With the query, it's not so much a date as an audition. Is my manuscript pretty enough, funny enough, engaging enough, to make it past the producers? Will my manuscript ever even get to meet the Bachelor, er agent?

And when you do make it past the query stage, and the agent requests sample pages, it is a bit like a first date. But it's a first date with 30 other pretty, funny, engaging manuscripts hanging around in the background, waiting for their shot with the agent.

Maybe you get a rose or two, and the field gets narrowed. Things feel like they're really clicking. And you make it all the way to meet the parents and the agent reads your full manuscript. Great news, right?

So your manuscript was selected from the 100s, possibly thousands who auditioned. You made it through some rose ceremonies. All the way to the finale. At this point, half the country (or at least your family and friends) is routing for you. And you just might get picked. Or you might get kicked in the teeth on national television.

I don't know about you, but when I was dating, my husband didn't already have an established girlfriend that was his top priority or a throng of women competing for his attention. (Okay, there were one or two, but that's another story).

I know that a beautiful story is all it takes. And if it's really good, the tables can be turned. So maybe my manuscript will go on to be the Bachelorette.

It worked for Trista.


Shortly after I wrote this post, I got my first nibble from an agent, a revision request.  She was lovely and told me that she had enjoyed my Bachelor post!  I updated my agent search on April 25, 2010 with this post:

Sunday, April 25, 2010

In which my manuscript becomes the Bachelorette

I have been submitting my paranormal YA for a few months now. There have been many hopeful meetings with producers (queries) that led to a few callbacks (requests for partials) and even a few dates with the Bachelor (agents who read the full). There was even one meet the parents that was so close, but alas, the Bachelor did not choose me.

And then something strange happened. All of a sudden I had not one, but two agents requesting revisions and offering to look again. Then an offer from one. Then an offer from a third agent. Everything seemed crazy and possible, and for a week I could barely think straight. My manuscript, like Tristan, got to be the Bachelorette.

So yes, you really can find a match on a reality TV show, I mean, through the querying process. I am pleased to announce that I am now represented by the wonderful Sarah Davies at the Greenhouse Literary Agency!

For those who are querying take heart. I did not know Sarah. I didn't know anyone who knew Sarah. I did not attend a conference where Sarah was speaking. Nope. I did things the old fashioned way. I sent a blind query + 5 pages, following the submission guidelines on her website.

Before querying, I did read her blog and several interviews with her available online. I spent some time on writer forums to get a feel for the buzz about her, and I felt confident that she would be a good fit for my work. I continued to do research even after sending my query, only to see a comment from another writer that Sarah had recently said she was seeing way too many werewolf/shapeshifter books. My heart sank. Yes, I had sent her a werewolf/shapeshifter book. So I wrote that query off.

Then, I got an email in my box from Sarah's co-agent in the UK, Julia Churchill. Julia said she was reading Sarah's mail while Sarah was at a conference, and that she liked the pages. So I sent them out, thinking I was lucky that someone else was reading the mail, but that Sarah would probably reject me pretty quickly.

Not so. Turns out, Sarah had read my query originally, but was on the fence about it because of the subject matter. She liked the sample pages enough to send it to Julia for a second opinion. So I was lucky that Julia liked the pages too.

Sarah went out on a limb to offer representation, even though we agreed that the manuscript would have to undergo a pretty significant revision before it could be submitted to publishers. Sarah's experience as an editor (she has worked with Phillip Pullman and Meg Cabot!) gave me complete confidence in her judgment. I agreed with her comments, and feel like the revisions are going to take this book to a level far beyond my original vision.

Finding an agent who believes in you is a major milestone for any writer. Finding someone who believes in you AND is willing to put the time in to make your work sing. That's priceless.

So, I am of course thrilled, excited and bouncing off the walls.

But enough gushing.

I have work to do. My poor characters have no idea what's coming...

Ha!  I had no idea what was coming, but wow did Sarah teach me a ton about plots and story structure.  Like Katherine, I feel so lucky to have found an agent that I respect and admire.  Her business savvy is unmatched and there is no one I would rather have in my corner.

I think its important to note that I found my agent the same way Katherine did- through research and querying.   Querying is stressful and rejection is hard, but one thing I've learned about agents that I didn't know when I was querying is that they want to love your work.  Agents are looking for a love match too.  They want to discover new voices and exciting manuscripts.

So I guess do believe it's possible to find a love match on publishing's version of the Bachelor. For all of us.

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