Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Great Agent Hunt!

Stats and The True Story:

I will attempt to be semi-coherent in giving you my humble story of how I found my agent, Tracey Adams of Adams Literary. (Find my name on the client page and read my new bio there.) She is absolutely terrific, very friendly, in my corner, knows all the best editors, chats me up with fantastic editors, *gets* my work better than I’d ever dreamed. In short, things are going swimmingly and I’m thrilled to pieces to be working with her!

In the Fall of 2006, my agent of 10 years and I decided to part ways. She had sold three books for me, which you can see here at my website: www.kimberleygriffithslittle.com (But don’t forget to come back for the rest of the story.)

My agent informed me she was moving to Costa Rica, and that from now on I was going to have to do all my own submissions (which I’d already been doing a lot of and not enjoying it too much). She had started her agency in the adult literature world, specializing in mysteries, sci-fi and fantasy, and falling accidentally into the YA world,. We’d also met at a local conference. Along with her move to Costa Rica, she was going to emphasize blockbuster adult thrillers and women’s fiction and she wasn’t keeping up much with the children’s world. She hadn’t been able to sell any of my current manuscripts and I heartily believed in them and didn’t want to give up.

Fact: Currently I have complete manuscripts for 6 novels, partials for 3 books and synopses for 5 more(!) and I was being told to just write a new book. Um, it was time to move on.

Moving on is not so easy to do . . . Finding a new agent – even harder.

I began researching agents and agency websites, discovered the world of writers through Blogspot and LiveJournal and many writers who let me email them and ask questions about their agents. I compiled a huge master list, which kept being added to over the next 18 months.

I did my homework – continued to research for new agents, definitely a constant in this saga - and three months later sent out my first batch of queries.

To make a long story shorter, by the time I was offered firm representation I had queried 39 agents. As I write this, that number is staggering to me.

So how did the 39 break down?

Fact: I queried with two different manuscripts, but the majority of queries were for one novel in particular, Secret Rites of the Goddess. The other manuscript, The Healing Spell, I started querying much later in the game – basically the last 6 months.

Fact: 90% were query emails with synopses, some included a few pages. The other 10 % were snail mail. I thought about querying several other very well-known agents, but just did *not* want to do the snail mail routine with a SASE and a run to the post office and purchasing more nice letter-head paper. That is for the olden days!

The Numbers Game:


13 Agents wanted Fulls

12 Agents wanted Partials (several wanted partials of both projects)

7 Agents never bothered to acknowledge or respond to the query at all. Amazingly high number - and from some very reputable, big agencies.

7 Agents never asked for anything, but I did get a personal rejection letter. A variety of reasons. Too full with clients right now, not the right kind of project for them even though it sounded interesting, etc.

Most of the agents read right away within a few weeks and most gave very nice comments. I did revise twice on my own during the 18 months of submitting. After that, I had 6 agents request specific revisions and asked me to resend, but I never did revise for anybody while I was still waiting to hear from others. I figured I’d revise/resub after I finished my entire list of agents.

Fact: I still have 20 Agents on my list that I researched, but never queried.

Fact: After a year, I got discouraged waiting as well as the whole, excruciatingly long process so I subbed partials to 8 editors that I carefully researched who might like my books. I had great success. Several asked for fulls, and 4 of them or 50% asked me to send them my new projects in the future. I was psyched about that!

Fact: The previous fact proves that editors are still reading their slush piles! And asking for fulls and writing personal letters to authors.

Fact: I entered into some lovely correspondence with several agents. I knew they would take me on with the right project.

Fact: On August 27, 2008, Tracey Adams and I had a two-hour phone conversation and we signed each other up!

Fact: Tracey never had me do ANY revisions before submitting to editors.

Fact: This blog will have some most excellent news next week. Fingers crossed and stay tuned!

Fact: If anybody would like to see my list of agents, I’d be glad to email it to you so that you can see if any of these agents might be right for you. Don’t forget to do your research/homework though!

The Last and Best Fact:
I attended SCBWI LA in August 2007, mostly because I wanted to meet Tracey Adams since she was only accepting submissions from writers who attended the conferences she spoke at. It took a year and several emails over the summer with her when she offered representation, but she was always my Number One Choice Agent, although her offer suddenly got 5 other agencies jumping, too. It was obvious after corresponding with all the interested agents that I’d picked the right agent as #1. I couldn’t be more pleased.

End of Story!
Or maybe just the beginning . . .

2 comments:

Crimogenic said...

Kimbereley, I saw Moonrat's post regarding you finding an agent. I just wanted to stop by and say congrats and thanks for journaling your progress. 39 queries, wow, I just started to query and I hadn't imagine it could take up to that many or more to match up with the right agent. Thanks for putting things into prospective for me.

Best of luck with everything.

AC said...

I came over from Moonrat's blog too, and loved reading about your agent search. I need all the tips I can get, and I'm so glad you've had such great news the past few months. Can't wait to see your new books on the shelves!

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