I have the privilege of sharing my How I Got My Agent story! And I know it's long, so if you want to skip to the end, I'm fine with that. I won't know the difference. ;)
I started writing my tenth manuscript, an NA Sci-Fi novel, on May 22, 2013 and I finished the first draft on June 14th. It was the fastest I’d ever completed a first draft at the time, and I was floating. The book was totally different from anything I’d written in a long while—up until then I’d only written YA (albeit, my characters tended to border 17/18) and I’d written a lot of paranormal. But I learned the hard way YA Paranormal is insanely hard to break into right now, so I decided to try something new.
After several months of editing and trading with critique partners, I sent out my first batch of shiny queries on September 6th. The next couple weeks filled my inbox with loads of form rejection letters and one particularly nice personalized rejection—but rejections nonetheless. I started thinking maybe trying something different didn’t matter and the result would be the same as the last four manuscripts I’d queried.
I kept submitting and distracted myself with reading and brainstorming.
On October 7th, I submitted to Miss Authoress’s Secret Agent Contest. Unlike many other writing contests, the entries are chosen by a random lottery generator, so your odds of making it in are 100% random. Those who are chosen get an e-mail before the entries are posted to let them know they’ve made it into the lottery. I’d entered a Secret Agent contest with a different manuscript earlier in the year, so I knew how it worked and what to expect.
Except I didn’t get an e-mail. My entry wasn’t chosen for the contest.
I was disappointed, but I distracted myself with NaNoWriMo plans and continued to send out queries. I reminded myself there were loads more contests coming up like Agent Treat and Baker’s Dozen and Pitch Wars, so I always had another chance in the future.
Then, on October 14th, the Secret Agent was revealed—except it was a surprise of two secret agents, Emily Keyes and Louise Fury, and thus there would be twice the winners, which were posted shortly thereafter. To this day, I’m not sure why I clicked to see who the winners are—I don’t usually, especially if I’m still kinda disappointed, which I was. But I clicked and read the names of the winners.
And I nearly had a heart attack. Because listed under “Runners up” was “#41 Slave and Sira.”
I stared at the winner entry. It couldn’t be a coincidence, could it? Had someone else named their novel Slave and Sira? That seemed really unlikely, considering “Sira” is a word in a language I made up for the novel.
I raced over to entry #41 and read, with shaking fingers, my entry. The first 250 words of my novel. The entry that I was sure hadn’t made it into the contest was posted, and had comments, and the secret agents said it was a strong opening. What. What?!
I ran back to the winner post and checked again to make sure I wasn’t dreaming, but it was there! Louise Fury wanted to see my query and the first three chapters of my manuscript. After receiving instructions from Miss Authoress, I sent off the partial that very same day. And I danced. Around Twitter, anyway.
I worked hard to distract myself and finished my outline for the NaNo novel. Then on Halloween, I received a request from Team Fury for the first fifty pages. I danced for joy and sent the pages, announcing to myself that I’d received the best Halloween treat ever.
Then I prepared myself for the long haul. Ms. Fury’s stated response time was 4-6 weeks on partials and 6-8 weeks on fulls. I focused on NaNoWriMo and didn’t think about my partial…until I received a request for the full a couple days later on November 3rd. I was beyond excited. I ran around the house and jumped up and down and sent out the full and squeed with joy. Literally. I was brimming with happy energy.
Then a couple hours after I sent the full, this happened:
Ironically, I was in mid-text conversation with someone, telling them the good news about an agent having my manuscript when I got the notification. I may have flipped out in mid-conversation and been all OMG THE AGENT IS FOLLOWING ME ON TWITTER. I REPEAT, THE AGENT IS FOLLOWING ME ON TWITTER and my poor non-writer non-Twitter friend was confused, but I regret nothing.
I’m not gonna lie, the next couple weeks were filled with me checking to see if I’d been unfollowed because she decided she didn’t like my manuscript after all and I might have checked just to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. But I wasn’t dreaming. And she didn’t unfollow. And I focused on NaNoWriMo and tried really hard not to think about my manuscript being read by the amazing Louise Fury. For the record, I totally failed—I was thinking about it constantly.
Then Pitch Wars came along and a few members of Team Fury were mentors and I wasn’t sure what the protocol was for mentors who may or may not have already looked at your full, so I asked. And after the most nerve-wracking twenty minutes of my life, a fabulous Team Fury mentor told me the team already had a meeting and I might not have to submit to Pitch Wars and I should be hearing from Ms. Fury soon.
QUEUE FREAK OUT.
I’m not gonna lie, you guys—I started crying. Happy tears. I kept telling myself it might be an R&R request but I didn’t even care—I’d be totally happy with an R&R.
Then started the longest two weeks of my life. Because I didn’t hear anything and I was glued to my e-mail and I kept fighting off stupid neurotic thoughts like what if she changed her mind or what if they confused you with someone else and my anxiety levels slowly crept up. And I tried to keep cool and calm and collected.
But then the Pitch Wars entry date came. After major agonizing over a decision about whether or not to enter with a CP, I submitted thinking if I heard anything, I’d withdraw right away.
Then on December 6th, just twenty minutes before I’d been planning to go to bed, I got the e-mail I’d been dreaming of for years: Louise Fury had read my manuscript more than once, spoken with her team members, and they wanted to talk to me. Was I available this weekend?
HELL YES I WAS AVAILABLE.
I was immediately overloaded with excitement and anxiety. Anxiety up the wazoo. We scheduled the call for the next day and I barely slept that night. I collected my list of questions and reviewed my research and when the call came, my hands were cold and shaking.
The call itself is a blur. Team Fury shared my vision for the book, and I agreed with the edit suggestions, and Louise was totally supportive of my wanting to write in multiple categories and genres, and when I hung up the phone, I was having a major David After Dentist episode.
I had seven queries out at the time, so I sent out three notices and five withdrawals, including the withdrawal from Pitch Wars. Out of the three notices, I received two requests for the full and one non-response. Both agents who requested graciously bowed out, and I was actually relieved, because it saved me from the agony of having to choose.
Which is great, because my choice? She’s pretty darn awesome. And it may have taken ten manuscripts and eight years, but I am so incredibly honored to say I’m now represented by Louise Fury of The Bent Agency! And I could not be happier to be joining Team Fury. :D
Query Stats (for this manuscript):
Total Queries Sent: 25
Partial Requests: 1
Full Requests: 4
Offers of Rep: 1
How writer @Ava_Jae landed her agent Louise Fury with her tenth manuscript. (Click to tweet)