Saturday, 4 February 2012

The How I Got My Agent stories: This week's guest post by Kimberly Welchons.

Ok, so it's only slightly later in the same week, but I love these stories, I have more to schedule, and I want to do another beta reading contest this month too. So this slightly-later-in-the-week's guest post on How I Got My Agent is here today, and it's by another of my new writerly friends, Kimberly Welchons.

I think she's the one on the left, but don't quote me

My “How I Got My Agent Story” is terribly exciting and full of unicorns, dragons, and mortal danger. Okay, okay, there weren't any unicorns.

About this time last year I was in New York at the Writer's Digest Conference where I could take part in a Pitch Slam, which was described as speed dating with agents. That was a lie. It was more like "Stand in line in 4 inch heels and a pencil skirt and listen to some guy talk about how his trip to Peru changed his life because that's where he first met the aliens" with agents. This was also where I met a group of girls who like changed my life dude (which is the best thing about conferences).
I pitched to a handful of agents and they all requested my material. Which wasn't done. Oops.
I went back to California and wrote like a mad woman. See, if I have deadlines I can do some incredible stuff. If I don't, I spend all day watching Daniel Radcliffe interviews. I finished and immediately sent it to my critique partners, their major consensus being "Why GOD is this in present tense?"

I had my reasons.
I sent it out.
I got rejections from every agent that requested it at the Pitch Slam.

FINE. I spent two weeks changing every single verb. My friend Michelle went through and read every singly verb. I got to the point where I couldn't figure out if the word 'cut' was in present tense or past (it's both). I also did some other fixing and trimming, things I had missed because I was trying to get it out before the Pitch Slam agents forgot about me. In reality, the manuscript I had rushed to get out wasn’t my best work and I hurt myself because of it. This is the part of the story where I stress taking your time, letting your book breathe, and letting yourself breathe. Also, listen to your critique partners.

Then I sent it out again in small bits. I spent a lot of time on my query letter, making sure the tone of the book really came through in each line, even in my bio.
A few weeks later I got an email from an agent who had pulled me out of the slush pile and wanted to talk. I was in a coffee shop that I go to because it's full of screenwriters and I like to gloat that my prose makes me a real writer to them. We all danced around.
30 minutes later I got an email from another agent who also wanted to talk. The screenwriters glared at me for being so noisy.

I talked to both of them, talked to their clients, emailed and asked questions. I even made a little excel sheet with their answers. They both had very, very different visions for my manuscript. I debated endlessly over sangria, did some research, and found childhood pictures of both agents (beware my googling ability). Everything about them was so different, and it was an incredibly tough choice.

What it ultimately came down to were the revision notes. I knew I wanted someone who was more editorial, who would dig her heels into a work and get it in the best possible shape before submitting to publishers. My book is much stronger with Meredith’s notes, and I’m glad I took the time to do the work with her.

So that’s how I signed with Meredith Kaffel at Charlotte Sheedy Literary. Not from a conference, from a pitch slam, or even in an elevator, but from good ol’ fashioned slush. It happens people!

More evidence that the slush pile works! All four of the stories featured so far on my blog - including mine - have been about success from the slush pile. I like what that says about your chances, don't you?

Here's where you can follow Kimberly's blog and tweets which you'll be wanting to do because she's nice. And funny.


  1. Great story! I love that you googled your agents' childhood pictures!

  2. Another great story - I think anyone who moans about the slushpile not working should be directed straight to this blog!

  3. Another happy ending, yey

    Loving this series, it gives us all hope

    And really surprised at all the slush pile success. We're told this doesn't work anymore. Way to go for proving this theory to be BS!

    Matt (Turndog Millionaire)

  4. What a great story thank you for sharing! Slush piles FTW! :)

  5. Ruth, you're demystifying the slush pile. Another great tale of success. I just love reading these stories. They give us all hope.

  6. Hi,

    Apologies for the off-topic comment, but I couldn't find a contact email for you and I don't have a twitter account.

    I recently put out an ebook of my writing, called The New Death and others. It's a collection of short pieces, mostly dark fantasy.

    I was wondering if you'd be interested in doing a review on your blog.

    If so, please email me: Let me know what file format is easiest for you, and I'll send you a free copy.

    You can download a sample from the ebook's page on Smashwords:

    I'm also happy to do interviews, guest posts, or giveaways. Just let me know what you'd prefer.



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