All the Gory Details: an agent story (part 2)

Sorry everyone!  I had to go sell legally addictive substances for a while, otherwise known as Miriam's Day Job.

Where was I? *checks*

(Part One is here.)

Oh yes. I had just sent a query and sample pages off to Jennifer Laughran in order to make myself feel better about a rejection. I was counting down the days until the six weeks for her no-response-means-no policy were up. I was rewriting my Alaskan dragon book and VERY excited about getting to do a fresh round of queries with a new project.

Then it happened. Two weeks before the deadline was up, I got an email from Jenn in my inbox requesting a full.

I kid you not, the first words out of my mouth were "Oh crap."

This was not the plan. I didn't WANT to wait the weeks and months a full request can take before I started querying my other project. Especially if it was just going to lead to another rejection.

Well, I may be a pessimist but I'm not stupid. A first-class agent asks for a full, you send her a full. Plus I'm a big believer in the idea that everything happens for a reason. Maybe my other project really needed more time. Maybe there was a bigger plan in play.

There was. But not the one I thought.

After some really irritating email trouble I sent the full. That was Saturday night. On Sunday morning I did a rare sleep-in day. I woke up around 11am (PST)  to an email from Jenn asking if any other agents had the book. I sent an email back saying no.

All well and good. Except then I opened up my Twitter feed to find this.

Of course I screen-captured it. Shut up.

And this.

I FREAKED. But it was a quiet freak. I didn't dare to believe she was talking about MY book. I checked the time she sent the email against the time she wrote the tweet. It fit. My husband freaked, and not quietly.

"She's totally talking about you!" he said. I told him to hush. Then I waited. If she was talking about me, surely she would email me back soon right? And as the afternoon and evening wore on, I convinced myself she was talking about someone else.

Then my gmail page made a weird noise. It took me a minute to find out why and when I did, I freaked again.  It was Jenn on google-chat. She hadn't gotten my email because it had gone to the wrong folder.

But she was talking about me.

She did love my book.

A week-and-a-half later, after some revisions, some seriously awkward flailing (on my part), and some MASSIVE insecurity attacks (also me), Jenn called to offer representation. After giving myself a day to think about it, I said yes.

And that's how I ended up with an awesome agent.

*looks at last sentence again* *does happy dance*

Now I know some of you are combing this story to find lessons you can use to help your own agent search. I know because I did the same thing. So I'm going to pretend that I know what I'm doing and offer you some advice.

*adjusts glasses* *tries to look wise* *fails*


Advice #1. Never give up, never surrender. 

I owe a lot of this story to luck (or Divine Providence, depending on what you believe). But if I hadn't sent the query in the first place, none of those would have come into play. Take another step forward, even if it's a little one.

Advice #2. The best thing you can do for your career is write another book.

I believe that this is always true, no matter where you are in the process. Aside from building up a body of work, the plain truth is writing another book will teach you things you will never learn in revisions. I could never have gone back and made Houses better if I hadn't written two other books first.

Advice #3. Bring the awesome every time.

Even though I wasn't expecting anything to come from my query, I still made sure my query letter was good. I followed Jenn's guidelines. I personalized the query. I did my best. You have to bring the awesome to everything you do, even if it's a blog with eight followers or a short story for an online magazine or a twitter feed.

Oh, and one more thing.

Don't diss luck. You just might have to eat your words someday.



  1. That is such an awesome story!! *releases badgers back into wild* *wonders where badgers came from since this is Australia*

  2. Oh, hip hip hooray for you! Jenn is amazing - she was the first agent I ever met in real life, and she is so encouraging. You are in GREAT hands!!
    So glad you brought the awesome. ;)

  3. Congratulations! This is an amazing agent story:)

  4. Woo hoo!! Such a great story. :) Love it!

    Also, I think it's absolutely legitimate to save screen shots from Twitter. These things have to be preserved! I give you full permission to print it off and frame it.

  5. Hi Miriam! Literaticat instructed all attending yalitchat to follow her clients "because they are cute." So, here I am. ;)

    Really, just wanted to offer my congratulations with everyone else. I love hearing these success stories, and wish you all the best during the next step.

  6. Oh boy I am typing this through welled up eyes. I am so excited for you and LOVE that you saved those screen shots. Frame them!

    Thanks for the advice too. Never give up, never give up and get to work on that new manuscript.


  7. Cool story! That's awesome you screencaptured the tweets. You'll have it forever! Congrats on getting your awesome agent!

  8. Freaking awesome! Getting your agent is the BEST feeling!!

  9. What awesome news, Miriam! You must be thrilled, as I am for you. It's been quite a journey, and I'm glad to be able to say "I knew you when ..."

    Wishing you the very best success, and a book deal soon!

    Raising my coffee cup in a toast of congratulations, to you,and to your agent for securing you ... Cheers :)

  10. HURRAH FOR YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. Wow, I'm so happy for you.

    Thanks for the advice. good to know that writing another book is necesary sometimes. This keeps hopes up.
    Nahno ∗ McLein

  12. Yeah! And thanks for sharing the whole story and your advice.

  13. Truly amazing! Big congrats to you!

  14. wowzers! what an inspiring story! so happy for you1! :)

  15. Jade- Time travel maybe? *imagines ferocious time-traveling badgers*

    Nikki- Thank you!! And hooray for bringing the awesome!

    Melissa- Thanks! I like it. :)

    Renee- *grin* I'm thinking about framing my contract. Is that weird?

    Amanda- Thank you and welcome! I don't know if I'm cute, but I do post many pictures of cute animals. :)

  16. Corinne O'Flynn- *hands Corinne a tissue* *and a hug* Thank you!

    Laura- Thanks! I figured even if it didn't pan out, I'd have PROOF that someone liked my work. :)

    Dawn- It is a pretty awesome feeling, I admit. *grin*

    Joanne- You knew me WAY back when. In fact I think you were the first regular comment-er on the blog. Which makes your congratulations extra special. Thank you.

    Beth- YAAAYY!!! *hugs Beth*

  17. Nahno- Thank you! And writing another book is NEVER a bad idea. It's what kept me sane through this process, the thought that if one book didn't work, the next one would.

    Natalie- You're very welcome!

    Marsha- Thank you so much!

    Aleeza- Aww, thank you! I'm glad it's inspiring. I was afraid it would be dorky. :)

  18. This is such an inspiring, amazing story! A huge congrats to you!!!

  19. Ghenet- Thank you! Seeing all written out like that is kind of surreal. It still hasn't sunk in entirely. :)

  20. I missed this last week, Miriam! I was in my own "new agent" fog--doesn't it feel wonderful!

    I've spoken to Jen in the past and she has some kick-butt authors, you are in great hands! Congratulations!

  21. Thank you Kristine! And congratulations yourself! That's wonderful. :)


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