So sit on down.
You guys all saw the metrics I posted while writing my last book, a dark uf called Unholy Ghosts. I believe some of you posted the brief snippet I posted too (and have since removed, so no snooping!)
I wrote it. I edited it. I made my friends read it. Several of them offered (after reading it) to give me referrals to their agents, which makes them the most amazing people ever.
I sent out a couple of queries. I waited.
I was lucky. I got some full requests from the first few queries I sent, a short time ago.
So Monday I decided to go for one of my Dream Agents who was not a referral, who I didn’t know and who didn’t know me. Chris Lotts from Ralph Vicinanza Ltd.
I sent the query, thinking, “He’s totally not going to be interested, but I’ll give it a try.”
Three hours later I got a very complimentary request for the full…with a week’s exclusive. Of course, I couldn’t give an exclusive. But I sent it anyway (crossing my fingers) and explained that several fulls were out and that I promised I wouldn’t sign with anyone until I’d spoken to him first. I said I really hoped that was acceptable as I would hate to miss the chance to work with him. All of which was true–I think I barely breathed after sending it.
We exchanged one or two other emails, and I went to bed thinking I had totally blown it. Of course it couldn’t be helped that I’d already sent out other fulls, and I certainly wasn’t going to lie and say I hadn’t, but…I was certain I’d lost his enthusiasm. This is an extremely busy man–surely he wasn’t going to waste his time reading a ms by someone who could get a phone call from another agent any minute, right? In my last response I told him I would take an offer from him extremely seriously and that I had no interest in playing agents off each other–totally true–but would he believe it? Argh! I barely slept.
He emailed me back Wednesday evening. He was well into the book and really enjoying it, was I around for a phone call?
We talked for about an hour. I feel certain that at least one point I made a total dork of myself. In some places my memory is a bit fuzzy. But there is one sentence he said that I will never, ever forget:
“I really think this is great, and I’d like to represent it.”
And I had an agent.
I sent a query.
I’d never met him. He’d never met me.
He’d never heard of me.
I don’t personally know anyone he represents (of course I’ve heard of them, but never met any of them.)
I don’t think he particularly cared about my credits. I’m sure he thought they were nice to have, and they showed him I could finish a novel and had at least a basic level of professionalism, but in the long run it was Unholy Ghosts that interested him.
I didn’t pay him (of course). I didn’t run into him at a conference or in an alevator somewhere or do an in-person pitch. He isn’t a relative. I didn’t show him a “portfolio”. I didn’t have an offer in hand from a major NY house.
All I did was send a query. And two days later I had an agent. (Who ROCKS!!!!, btw, and I still haven’t started breathing correctly again and some part of me is totally waiting for him to email and tell me he made a mistake, or that I spoke to a Chris Lotts impersonator or something.)
That’s all I did. So next time someone tells you it’s impossible to get a good agent–a great agent–without any of those other things…they’re wrong.
I sent a query and first few pages that he liked so much he kept reading. And kept reading.
I’m not saying my book is the greatest book ever written (you guys know I’m way too insecure and stuff to ever say anything like that, even if I thought it, which I don’t.) But I’m proud of it. I worked hard on it. And if I can do it so can you.
I have an agent!! Squeeeeeeee!