How I Met My Agent (And You Could, Too)

If you’re like many writers, the moment you stamped “complete” on your revised and polished manuscript, you dove into agent-seeking mode. By the time I did so, I’d asked numerous authors how they landed their agents. And wouldn’t you know, every darn story was different. Gregg Hurwitz met his through an internship. Chris Rice was born lucky. (And talented.) His mother is the renowned author, Anne Rice. Ernessa T. Carter got hers through a good ‘ol fashioned query letter. And Stacy O’Brien, via the Southern California Writers Conference. 

A multitude of options exist for writers seeking representation. I believe in taking advantage of all of them. So I sent out a slew of e-queries and signed up for several writers conferences. I’m happy to say that my efforts paid off last July at AgentFest–the “pitch session” portion of ThrillerFest–in NYC. The coordinators asked me to share some insight on my experience, which I was *thrilled* and eager to do. 😉 Here’s the story, which appears on their website:

Something Did Happen
By August McLaughlin

“So you’re going to fly across the country to one of the most expensive cities to attend a pricy conference? What if nothing happens?” a friend asked after I registered for AgentFest.

“I’m going. Something already is happening,” I replied, sensing that his skepticism was geared more toward his stay-in-Los Angeles plans than mine to attend.

I’d been to three other conferences since completing my novel, IN HER SHADOW. And although I benefited from every one, I’d met a grand total of twelve agents, several of whom did not represent thrillers. AgentFest provided an opportunity to “speed date” with rooms full of agents in my genre. (Can we say ‘heaven’???) Considering the stockpile of queries agents routinely receive, I figured any chance to stand out, demonstrate my commitment as an author and bypass the risks of accidental email deletions was worthwhile. Plus, what other opportunity do we have for immediate feedback?

It was costly, so I asked myself this: If you end up landing an agent at this conference, would the airfare, hotel and conference fees be worth it? Absolutely.

Lucky for me, that happened.

Before the two-and-a-half-hour pitch session, I stood in a long line of anxious writers, my heart pounding and palms sweating as though it really was an important first date. Thanks to a suggestion from the ThrillerFest website, I had my one-line, “What if . . .” statement prepared and an armful of information sheets with a synopsis of my novel and my name, photo and contact information.

I pitched to twelve agents and two editors. (Thankfully, my knees stopped shaking after my first.) Thirteen requested materials. About a month later, I received two emails requesting phone calls to discuss representation—one from John Rudolph of Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. I knew as soon as I read John’s that I wanted to sign with him; he was my top choice of the twelve. We chatted by phone and I signed a contract the following day.

Even if I hadn’t gained representation, I would not have regretted attending. As writers, we often lead solitary lives. There’s little better than submersing ourselves in a community of others who “get” us—share similar passions and relate to the world through words and stories. You also get a gift bag of books and the opportunity to hear fantastic speakers. In this way, AgentFest beats most every conventional date I’ve been on.

I feel extremely blessed, both to have had the opportunity to attend AgentFest and to be working with agent John Rudolph.

As for my skeptical pal, he’s already signed up for next year.

******

ThrillerFest 2012 will take place July 11th – 14th in New York City. To learn more, visit ThrillerFest.com. Sign up now for an early bird discount!

For a database of literary agents and publishers, visit:
Query Tracker (Allows you to track queries sent and responses received–for free!)
Writer’s Market (Allows you to agent-seek and utilize plentiful writing/publishing resources for a modest monthly fee)
Agent Query (Super user-friendly “quick search” options – all free!)

To find writers conferences in your genre or geographical area, visit:
 Writers Conferences & Centers

What about you? Seeking an agent? Planning to pitch at a conference? Have an agent and willing to share your story? I’d love to hear from you!

Leave a comment

18 Comments

  1. I am so glad I met you. To think that Anne Rice and son…Chris, great authors. I also hold like 21 copies from over 100 years ago of “Agatha Christie.” A client of mine gave them to me. 🙂 Either way I will become an Author and loved your free references. Not sure if you stopped by my writing blog: http://thewritershelp.wordpress.com Hope to see you there. Jackie~

    Reply
  2. Glad we met, too! Your Christie book collection sounds fabulous… 🙂

    Thanks for guiding me to your blog–good stuff! Stay well and keep me posted.

    Reply
  3. Great story August! Still working hard and hope to be at this point soon!

    Reply
  4. Thanks, Ellis! That working hard will get you there. 🙂

    Reply
  5. Nigel Blackwell

     /  October 22, 2011

    Speed dating with a bunch of agents really sounds like a good way to go. It’s probably pretty hard on the agents but the authors probably get better during the session from all the practice! Glad it worked out 🙂
    Cheers

    Reply
    • Spot on, Nigel! They did start to look bleary-eyed and I wondered whether any would dash from the scene. Unlike conventional dates, they couldn’t rely on alcohol. Assuming that was really *water* in those bottles…hmm.

      Reply
  6. I hope your success is contagious!

    Reply
  7. Congrats! Nice entry, nice story. Happy endings are always my favorite, whether in a story I’m reading, a book I’m writing… or even (if all else fails) in real life. ;o)

    Reply
  8. Kourtney Heintz

     /  January 14, 2012

    It’s great to read right before I head off to pitch too. Nice to remember there are many roads to getting agented and published. Thanks for such a timely reminder. 🙂

    Reply
  9. Excellent post, August.

    And well done for overcoming the nerves! I’m sure a publisher will be knocking on the door soon.

    Reply
  10. Debra Eve

     /  April 13, 2012

    Great story, August. That really took guts and it paid off! My shero. And our own Diane Capri was one of the founders of Thrillerfest. What a lovely bit of serendipity.

    Reply
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