|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?
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