I’ve been promising to write this post for some time, though I’d like to start off with a disclaimer: This information will in no way help you at all.
There. Now that we’ve got that out of the way.
Before you get an agent, you look on with wide-eyed wonder at those writers who have one wondering who waved a magic wand. Or maybe just in bitter jealousy. I suppose it depends on you.
Anyway, here’s how I got one (Tamar Rydzinski of the Laura Dail agency). First, I wrote a book. (Doh!) Then I started querying agents that I’d researched as possible good fits based on what they repped and on recommendations from author peeps that I knew (I knew quite a few from all my years of reviewing and interviewing them). I queried a total of about, erm, maybe 8 or 10 agents in my first batch, including Laura Dail, who had been recommended (and introduced to me) by the awesome Sarah Mlynowski.
They all said no. For the most part, they all liked my writing okay but to some it didn’t speak to them because they liked vampire novels that were traditional horror-ish stuff. And some just didn’t think vampires were an easy sell. I should note that I wrote my book in 2004/2005 before Twilight came out and was querying before it came out and during the early Twilight days before things went insane. And, darn it all, right when I first started querying, a bunch of new vampire books cropped up. Laura considered it the longest and gave me an encouraging no and said I should send more stuff in the future.
Well, I was talking with Terry, a writer friend of mine and she mentioned that her editor at Mirrorstone was looking for paranormal YA. She introduced me and Mirrorstone considered the manuscript for a good long time (not complaining, just saying). They ultimately decided to buy it and I signed all the contracts and stuff myself. No agent.
Then (much later), my book came out. An author friend of mine who had gone to work as an editor/development dude at a large book packager (okay, THE large book packager) liked Mina’s voice. He emailed and asked if I would be interested in working with them on a middle grade novel, possibly a series. It was an interesting idea and while it wasn’t *my* idea, I thought I ought to at least investigate it. But there was no way I was going to do that without an agent. Book packaging contracts are notoriously convoluted. So I emailed Laura and explained the situation, etc. and they agreed to represent me.
The book packager thing fell through (they decided they wanted a guy to write the series in question, and while there are many things I can change about myself, that just isn’t one of them), but lo and behold, I had an agent. Tamar works with Laura.
Nothing overly romantic or earth-shattering, but there you go.
I still actually have no idea how the agent thing works in many ways since Tamar hasn’t actually repped a book I haven’t sold myself (she did the contract stuff on the sequel, but didn’t have to present it or anything like that — I really still just worked directly with my editor on that). They’ve handled all the foreign contract stuff on Sucks to Be Me, which is good (because it is totally confusing). So I’ll have to report back after I actually finish my next book and actually get to work with them for real.
See, I told you it wouldn’t help you at all.