Saturday, July 2, 2011

An ode to my agent on the anniversary of my first "YES"!

It took me three years (plus a week, if we want to get technical) to find an agent. I had given myself four before I'd told myself I better start pursuing another career path, even if I kept writing on the side. At the time, it felt like forever, but in hindsight, I'm glad, because Jennifer Laughran wasn't even an agent for much of those three years. Sometimes things take a while for a reason, clearly.

As soon as she started agenting, she moved to the top of my pile. I knew of her from the children's writer boards known as The Blue Boards. I found her a wee bit intimidating, but smart and hilarious and helpful, and I LOVED her taste in books, which is not easy to do with me. I'm a persnickety reader. And although she was new, which I suppose holds an element of risk, she was with the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. A lot of my friends were repped by agents there. They sold a lot of books, almost all children's/YA, which has always been my passion. I'll admit I dreamed of being able to say I had an ABLA agent.

It actually took me two tries to get a yes from Jenn, but on July 2nd, 2008 (well, it was just after midnight, so technically, July 3rd, but she was in California at the time, so CLOSE ENOUGH), she emailed me about the full manuscript of Magic Under Glass that she loved it and wanted it. It had been one heck of a journey getting to that point, a road paved with glowing rejections and revision requests, friends getting agents and book deals, a lot of persistence and rewriting and an occasional pit stop in "Will it EVER be my turn!?" land.

Technically, it took another week to be official, because I had other fulls out, but I positively GLOWED my way through the family 4th of July party. I've never cared for summer but I have to admit it seems to be my magic season, career-wise. In a little over a month I'd have a book deal, and I was relatively mellow in comparison on that day because I still could hardly believe I had an agent!!

Of course, every writer dreams of getting an agent who will sell their book. I was willing, at the time, to accept a semi-mediocre agent so I could get my book on editor's desks. I just didn't really know better, because people weren't very vocal about bad agent experiences. It wasn't until after I HAD an agent that I really got to hear horror stories, see friends struggle with agents who might sell a book but drop the ball in other ways--and subsequently, struggle with the question of exactly when is an agent not doing their job enough that one should actually part ways? I have thanked my lucky stars many times over that Jenn had been the first agent to fall in love with my writing, because my career path has had its share of bumps, to be sure, but Jenn knows when to send a Youtube video of kittens, and when to just tell me I'm awesome. She gives great revisions suggestions and uses the cutest stationary. She's fed me when I was starving in NYC and been the voice of reason when I've freaked out. Her other clients are a pleasure to know and a lot of them are my friends. I've never doubted that I landed in the right place.

Anyway, I'm not usually one for the public gushing, but three years feels like a milestone to me, because so many things in my career have happened in three-year or three-week increments. It feels like a "looking back" point now. And I am truly grateful for all the wonderful events of the last three years. This time three years ago, I was just working in a health food store and dreaming, dreaming of just the sort of email that would finally appear in my in-box that night...


  1. Aww, what a sweet ode. Sounds like you found the perfect agent for you (and I'm so glad, because I really enjoyed Magic Under Glass--so happy it made it to the readers). Happy anniversary!

  2. That's a great story! And yes, finding "an agent" shouldn't be the goal, but the "right agent." Good reminder!

  3. Kristin--Thank you!!

    Mindy--Yes. I hope people know better now. There are a lot more resources that have popped up even in the last few years. But of course no one wants to go around badmouthing an agent they had a bad experience with. It's only smart, but after I got an agent I was a bit horrified about the stories I heard later.

  4. (Although I should note I have also heard stories of many WONDERFUL agents.)

  5. Happy anniversary! Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. I'm glad you met up with such a great agent and were able to start bringing your fabulous books to us! :)