I've gotten a couple of questions lately about literary agents, so I figured now would be a good time to write a few posts about my experiences with the Great Agent Hunt. Those of you currently looking for an agent have my respect and sympathy -- it's not an easy game to play. I spent my time down in the trenches, believe me.
Late last year I signed with Danielle Chiotti of Upstart Crow Literary. Danielle is awesome; it's because of her enthusiasm that I finished the Underbed draft as soon as I did.
Believe it or not, winning the ABNA contest and having a contract with a Penguin imprint doesn't guarantee you'll have agents groveling at your feet. (Actually, I'm pretty sure groveling isn't in their DNA.) I did hear from a few after the 2011 finalists were announced, and I queried a few more, including two who had already rejected Spookygirl. Danielle was one of those -- back in 2009 she turned it down because she had a client with a similar project. She did, however, compliment the partial she read, calling Violet "very real and likeable." Her rejection was one of the nicest I received, and I requeried her last year in case circumstances had changed. They had.
But landing an agent when you're already under contract is trickier than it sounds. The sale's already been made, so there's no commission there. An interested agent is betting on two things: related rights and future books. I knew I needed representation for the former, as I was starting to get questions from production companies about Spookygirl's film rights. And of course, I wanted to find an agent who would look beyond my first contract and help me shape my career. Danielle and I discussed that during a great phone conversation; I guess she liked what she heard, because she made an offer of representation that I gladly accepted.
That's where my Great Agent Hunt ended, after nearly ten years and close to one hundred rejections. I'll go into more detail on all that in future posts -- I can share tips, admit to some of the awful mistakes I made, and mutter under my breath about a few of my not-so-great query experiences (without naming names, of course!). If there's anything else you'd like me to cover, let me know in the comments.