Thursday, January 6, 2011

Guest Post: How I Found my Agent by Sherrie Peterson

This post is special to me, because SHERRIE and I were having an email-a-thon in December, about about a couple of jewelry orders she pondered, all while stressing over an agent phone call.
And she didn't even tell me, until the next day! :D Silly girl!

Take it away, Sherrie!


It felt like a little piece of me died when I got the latest rejection. It had been a referral, one of two I’d received for my middle grade novel. I’d hesitated, not sure if this person was really right for my story. But how could I ignore a referral? Wasn’t that a slam dunk, a sure thing? I should have at least gotten a request for a partial from it. Instead, I was staring at a form rejection from an agent I wasn’t even sure I had wanted in the first place. (I've SO been there.)

I sent one of my critique partners an email with just four words: I give up. Seriously. (!!!! My critique partner Kate, and I, had this conversation once.)

But one week later, I got an email from another critique partner who was also depressed over a rejection.

I finished licking my wounds and sent her back this message:
I have to believe that persistence and luck are the only ingredients missing for us right now so we just have to keep trying and not be one of the people who gives up because it WILL happen. Hopefully before we're dead. :D :D

Just to prove that I could follow my own advice, I sent out one more query.

Can I just say how wrong, how awful, it would have been, if I had given up? Because sending one more query…it changed everything. (sing it, girl)

Less than two weeks later, I had an agent. One who spent the first ten minutes of our conversation telling me everything she loved about my characters and the story I had written. One who was just as excited to hear my “yes” as I was to hear her offer of representation.

Every writer’s path is different, but here’s what worked for me:
1. Join a really good critique group or form one yourself. Not only will they help you make your writing stronger, they’ll support you through all the dark times.
2. Do your research. Make sure the people you approach are the best possible fit for you and your story.
3. Query slowly. I sent out a few queries at a time. If I didn’t get any requests, I would rework the query, make it better. Once I started getting rejections from the requests, I would rework the story based on whatever comments I received. ME TOO!
4. Take advantage of things like the Secret Agent contests at Miss Snark's First Victim
and Red Light, Green Light at Writing for Children and Teens . Both experiences provided me with valuable feedback on my writing. YEP!
5. Find beta readers. As much as your critique group loves you, they can only read your story so many times. Find fresh eyes to look at the story to make sure your changes work.

Beyond that, my best advice is to not give up! Work as hard as you can to make your story as good as you can, but know that you will be rejected. You will get depressed. The key is to pick yourself up and keep going. And someday you too will find your own Agent Wonderful and be ready to start the next leg of this journey to publication.


**By the way, her agent is Michelle Humphrey at International Creative Management.

The book that caught her agent's interest is, WISH YOU WEREN'T. And here's the logline: Marten’s little brother is a pain. But no wish to get rid of him has ever worked. Until now.

Read the first chapter, here!


Liz Mays said...

This is really interesting to me actually. I'm not writing a novel, nor will I ever, but my boyfriend is almost done with one. He has no idea what to do next. I wish there was a site that could help people know what to do.

Christina Lee said...

blue, there are tons of sites --I'm going to email you!

JEM said...

I'm shaking my pom poms for the both of you! Sherrie completely and totally deserved this great opportunity and I can't wait to see it on shelves!

Stefanie Wass said...

Thanks for this post! A testament to perseverance! I am definitely checking out that Snark site.

Unknown said...

I loved this post Christina! Brilliant! It was so nice to hear someone's agent story.

I'm currently sitting in limbo, waiting for a publisher to read over four of my chapters, if they like they want the full MS. I'm just nervous... I wanna know so I can either cry my eyes out or jump for joy.

Waiting is hard. Rejection is harder. Getting that one who loves you unconditionally (the agent) is priceless :)

Kelly Polark said...

Sherrie is awesome! And I love hearing success stories and the mantra, "Don't Give Up!" Wish You Weren't sounds like a great book, unique premise that every sibling has wished!. I know it will sell, Sherrie!

Matthew MacNish said...

Somehow your posts have not been showing up in my dashboard. Thanks god it's working again because I love your blog!

This post is a great example why. Well done, thanks ladies!

Maddy said...

Wow! I can only imagine how nerve wracking the whole process could be! It's like going to a job interview, except it's more personal because you've poured your sweet, blood and tears into your story! So congrats to you for sticking.

Melissa Gill said...

Sherrie's great. I'm so happy for her. I'm glad she didn't give up, and whenever I think about doing it I just tell myself to "remember what happened to Sherrie"

Christine Fonseca said...

Such an inspirational post! THANK YOU

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

I loved reading this, because it's so honest and yet filled with hope. I'm not at all surprised Sherrie found her agent, and I'm grateful she didn't let rejection stop her. This is all so right.

Sherrie Petersen said...

Thanks for having me, Christine! That day of our marathon emails will live in my memory forever because I was SO giddy and dying to say something but not wanting to jinx myself :P I'm glad my experience can encourage others. There is hope for us all!!

Pamela Gold said...

This is a silver lining post!

Kari said...

Good for you, Sherrie! Congrats :)

Lourie said...

When and how do you make time to write. I mean I make time to blog and read others' blogs, but what about that novel? Where does that fit in?

Shannon said...

What a wonderful story! Thank you, Christine and Sherrie, for sharing this! Talk about inspirational!! =)

Best of luck to you, Sherrie!! I'll go check out the first chapter now.

Also, if either of you have chance, please stop by my blog - there's a new anonymous critique waiting for feedback!

Krispy said...

Still so happy for Sherrie! Enjoyed hearing her story again and with your added perspective too! :)

Kristan said...

What a great story. The only one that could be better... WISH YOU WEREN'T! I can't wait to read it someday. :)

Stina said...

I'm so excited for both of you as you girls enter the submission process. Fingers are double crossed. (That's good, right?)

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Love, love this story, every time I hear it! No one deserves it more, Sherrie! :)

Casey McCormick said...

Love the post, Sherrie! Such an inspiring story.