Thursday, April 26, 2007

How I got an Agent: (The Short Version)

My guess is that my search for an agent was easier than some, harder than others. You see, going to conventions and pitching your book seems to be a good way to get an agent, but I started trying to get an agent several years after I stopped going to conventions. Don’t get me wrong, I love conventions (particularly Dragon*Con which is held every year in Atlanta), but my children are a little too young to enjoy them yet and most of my vacation time gets eaten up by various holidays and family outings. I’m also a little slow to warm up to people. I can be perilously shy and sometimes when I’m very nervous, I stutter. So even though trying to get an agent by the ambush-at-convention method was impossible for me to schedule, it was probably a good thing.

With this wonderful tool unavailable to me, I was left with words. Words ought to be useful right? I’m a writer. The original draft of BITE ME was over six hundred pages. I’ve written over a million words. As many writers will tell you though, writing a query letter is different. You can’t meander for a hundred pages. You have one page and some agents will not read even that page, perhaps not even the whole first sentence. Sad, but true - and ultimately understandable. So, you have to grab their attention. How do you do that?

I don’t know.

My record at present is twelve agent queries with the following results:

Six: Form rejections
Two: Query back when you’ve completed a different project.
Two: You’re good writer, but I can’t sell this urban fantasy stuff.
One: Prolonged Nibble™.
One: Request for revision - which ultimately resulted in my agent, Shawna McCarthy, agreeing to represent me.

(We love the Shawna. If you like great fantasy short stories, subscribe to Shawna’s magazine REALMS OF FANTASY at!)

Things that help:

It helps to query the right agent. Make sure that you are querying agents who represent what you write. Follow their submission guidelines precisely. Spend some time at checking out how not to look like a complete ass. Visit Preditors and Editors ( to make sure you don’t wind up getting scammed by a complete ass. I used to obtain my lists of agents and their contact information. It's not free, but it’s cheap and easy. If you’re too lazy (like me) to scope out all the free info available via the web, a Writer's Market subscription can put everything in one spot for you.

There are tons of writers who offer more helpful info online. I suggest Neil Gaiman’s site at and SL Viehl’s blog at

Next in the series: Wow! This Takes A Long Time!

But before that: TV!

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