How do I get a literary agent?
At this point in the story, I’m still asking myself that question. If you just got here and you don’t know what’s going on, jump back to Part One on how I got my literary agent.
After working on BOOK 3 for four years, I finally finished it in my last semester at uni. I also happened to be doing an exchange in the UK. There I was, doe-eyed and brimming with accomplishment at having finished my second novel (contained in one folder, filled with 20+ separate Word docs per chapter) I don’t know why I did this) even now))). I had a copy of the Writers and Artist’s Yearbook, but it was back in Australia so I got out of my dorm and braved the British winter to find a new copy. When I did, I made a list of potential agents who were just going to absolutely love my book.
Once I’d made my list, I set about sending them an email.
But it wasn’t just any email, oh no. I’d be writing them a ~Query Letter~.
I’d not written a query letter at that stage in my writing career. I’d read plenty about them and hitherto gleefully ignored ever having to write one. The day had finally arrived and so I wrote one. It was terrible, but I wouldn’t have known that then. I didn’t know all of the amazing resources available to writers like Miss Snark and Query Shark. I thought I knew it all and, to this day, I’ve no idea where that confidence came from. Or where it went.
Anyway, I started sending off query letters. At this point, I was fantasising about hopping on a train into London, having coffee with my fancy new agent and laughing merrily at the concept of a printed book. On the shelves. With my name on it. Due out the following spring. Oh, my sweet summer child.
The first rejection came thick and fast. It looked like this:
I wasn’t sure why it hurt as much as it did but I told myself I couldn’t be disheartened, I’d just try another one! It was at this point that I started following agents on Twitter. I was afraid to do so beforehand and I don’t know why, but I worked up the courage and started following the conversation. At the time, #AskAgent was a really big thing on Twitter and I found myself waiting for that moment to come each week so I could learn more and get better. I didn’t.
I finished my studies and for the remainder of my time in the UK, I continued to get nothing but ‘Dear author’ rejections.
I flew back to Australia to lick my wounds and accepted my degree. It was at this point that I had to become an adult and get a real job.
Me, being me, I absolutely did not do this and, instead, enrolled in a Master’s degree. This was actually a really good idea. I loved it. As procrastination from my studies, I began work on a separate project: a YA contemporary. This was a Big Deal because up to this point I’d only ever always written fantasy in third person. It didn’t stop me. My contemporary was first-person and I found myself dissolving into my laptop. Before I’d even hit halfway, I felt compelled to write a Query Letter for it.
I’m a pantser, so my form of writing is making it up as I go along. I do have some idea of what the beginning, middle, and end will look like but I certainly fill in the gaps as I go. Writing the query mid-way through actually gave me more of a focus while drafting.
Around Christmas 2015, I had a semi-completed draft and a polished query letter for BOOK 4. Around this time, I also must have taken leave of my senses for I did something very silly. I queried a book without having finished it.
Wait, hear me out.
I’d just queried between 25 – 30 agents with my first novel, all of which were either rejected or ignored. While this was tough, I think it helped me develop a thicker skin and to not take rejections personally. Having now written another book (almost!) and a better query letter, I was tempted to just try it out.
I did some research on potential agents for BOOK 4 and I queried three of them to see what would happen. Two of them were DNRs, but one agent came back asking to see a partial.
I flipped out.
I prepared everything the agent requested and submitted them immediately. At that point, I was six months into my first real job so there was a lot going on and much to be proud of. This little gem came at the right time and gave my writing the validation I didn’t know I needed.
Alas, I was soon rejected for that piece, but the agent was so nice about it and wished me luck with it. I took it as a sign that I should pursue this piece and see where it took me.
Of course, I didn’t. Classic me.
I was having a lot of fun at work, had just submitted a Master’s thesis and got yet another rejection so I decided to put writing aside.
That writing dry spell took a few months to pass, but when it did, I got back on my horse and set myself on a journey that would lead to The Call.