I came across agent #43 on the find-an-agent newsletter I subscribe to. As they often do, they had a guest blogger for their regular How I Got My Agent column because we emerging writers just lerve to read about the one-in-a-million series of fortunate circumstances that led to some other writer scoring an offer from their dream agent and whose book became the subject of an auction. (A book auction occurs when a new book is so hot that more than one publishing house wants it so the agent holds an auction (which I assume is, in reality, a frantic round-robin of telephone calls that continues until the publisher offering the biggest stack of moolah is the last one left in the phone booth.)) And in fact this particular writer ended up with a two-book deal from Doubleday.
Reading these stories can be like one of those double-swinging kitchen doors you see waiters disappear through at upscale restaurants. On the one hand it’s very encouraging to read the success story of a debut author with no contacts to help her shove a foot in the door of what can so often feel like a closed shop. On the other hand that door can swing back and slam you into a pit of quicksand posted next to a sign that reads, “Everything worked out just peachy…for her.”
What was encouraging about this story was that she’d spent from April to August sending out three to four dozen queries (in other words about the same number I’ve sent out). Then, finally, when she was on August vacation, she got a phone call from an agent who expressed interest so she sent all the agents she hadn’t heard back from yet a follow-up email to say, “By the way…just so that you know…I’ve had interest from another agent…” Apparently that did the trick and she heard from several agents–also on vacation—one of whom told her what every new writer aches to hear: “I would give my eyeteeth to represent this book.”And when she called him to tell him that she’d decided to go with him, he said to her, “I’m jumping up and down!”
I’m sure I’m not the only “emerging writer” who has read that column and promptly cyber-skedaddled, as I did, to the agency’s website. On their bio page that particular agent said that he “…works primarily with quality fiction – literary, historical, strongly written commercial…” so natch I shot off a query to him. The poor guy is probably dealing with twice the avalanche of queries that he’s usually buried under but who wouldn’t want to recruit a guy like him into your corner before that kitchen door swings back while you’re not looking and smacks you upside the head?