imsteph's picture
imsteph from Los Angeles, CA is reading Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany, Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante August 16, 2012 - 11:12am

Did you guys see The Millions post yesterday about navigating the world of literary agents?  I thought there might be an active thread here, but I don't see one hopping.  (I checked the Publishing category and couldn't find anything at all.)  Redirect me if I'm wrong.

Anyway, I know there are a lot of people on LitReactor with different opinions on the process and on whether it's even necessary, and I wanted to open a thread to share experiences.  I was able to sign with an agent after about a year of angsty searching, and I'm very happy with him (it's been about a year and a half now).  I posted my experience here, if you guys want a long read: http://bystephcha.wordpress.com/2012/08/15/the-agent-process-my-data-point/.  I kind of figured it might be a little bulky for a thread.

One of the things I really hated about that process was how isolated I felt, sending query after query with no one to commiserate with who understood what went into the search.  I might have done well to join a forum or two then but I knew even less about the writers' corner of the internet then than I do now.  Anyway, I hope that this can be a safe space to talk about the process.  I'm sure there are a lot of people here with thoughts and advice and occasional rants.

Dale's picture
Dale from Washington D.C. is reading Goldfinger by Ian Fleming. August 16, 2012 - 5:51pm

Congrats on getting an agent! I'm just starting to wade into those shark infested waters now. I'm going the traditional route; researching agents in my genre and querying the hell of out them. I haven't yet tried any writer's conferences like the post in the Millions suggested. Have you been to any? I'd be curious to hear someone's experience or success from networking side vice cold querying. 

BTW--Cryptomonicon is one of my favorite books. I've read it twice. 

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like August 16, 2012 - 7:08pm

A year doesn't sound bad.  Nice to know it can be done.  I mostly write short stuff and haven't yet finished a manuscript I'd consider salable, but your story is much more encouraging than all the "You're lucky if you get an agent after seven years of soul-sapping toil" -stuff.

GaryP's picture
GaryP from Denver is reading a bit of this and that August 18, 2012 - 5:48am

I've only been to one (maybe two--I might be combining them in my feeble memory) writing conferences years ago. At the time, I wasn't actually ready for the contacts I made. An agent asked to see my work and an editor (with one of the big six) asked to see a manuscript. But like I said, I wasn't ready and that was years ago, and I did nothing with it (yes, yes, I'm an idiot. Got it).

Okay, shut up, the point I'm trying to make is that writing conferences can be quite good. You have to research them (make sure they cover your genre), and sign up for them far enough in advance that you can get slots in the one-on-one meetings with agents and editors. Be prepared. Practice your elevator pitch. And follow up after.

And don't be a jerk. But that kinda goes for everything in this world.

Michael J. Riser's picture
Michael J. Riser from El Cerrito, CA (originally), now Fort Worth, TX is reading The San Veneficio Canon - Michael Cisco, The Croning - Laird Barron, By the Time We Leave Here, We'll Be Friends - J. David Osborne August 19, 2012 - 9:23am

I mostly just don't think about this because it scares the hell out of me. I'm like JY at the moment. Hoping my current manuscript turns into something real, but I'm stuck on it at the moment and school's about to start... so we'll see.

imsteph's picture
imsteph from Los Angeles, CA is reading Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany, Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante August 20, 2012 - 7:34pm

I've never been to a writing conference, but I thought about going before I got my agent.  I was surprised at how expensive they were and wondered if they were worthwhile.  I'd be curious to hear other experiences with them.  I just thought it'd feel bad to shell out hundreds of dollars and have nothing to show for it.

Suzanne van Rooyen's picture
Suzanne van Rooyen from South Africa is reading Silver Dream World by Neil Gaiman August 21, 2012 - 8:42am

The whole querying process can be intimidating, terrifying and rather demoralizing. It took me over ten drafts of my story and about six months of querying before I got that wonderful email with the three magical words in it 'offer of representation.' I only recently signed and have one indie book already published and one in the editorial stages due for release in December. Going the agent and hopefully traditional publishing house route is going to be a change for me after the indie experience. Despite what others think, I really do want an agent. If you want to know more you can head over to my blog post that details my agenting quest.

Congratulations on your sale to St Martin's Press! My agent and I have only just embarked on the submissions part of the journey so I'm holding thumbs that something awesome happens for my book.

Thanks for starting this thread and sharing your story. 

Hector Acosta's picture
Hector Acosta from Dallas is reading Fletch August 21, 2012 - 9:47am

I went to a writing conference here in Dallas two-three years ago. It cost I believe, 300 dollars or so, and the main reason I went to is because it offered a chance to 'pitch' to an agent. Basically, you got to spend something like ten minutes with an agent and give him your elevator pitch, and if s/he liked the idea, would give you their business card or instructions on how to submit directly to them.

Honestly, at that point, I didn't have a manuscript ready, but wanted to know if my current direction with it was something that would interest someone.  Prior to the conference, they had posted the agents that were coming, so I got to do some research on them and found one that I thought would fit the story I was working on. Day of the conference arrives, and I find that supposedly he's one of the pickiest agents, in the sense that he didn't even use the full ten minutes, either he believed he could sell your work and deemed you with a card, or told you(politely supposedly) that it wasn't for him.

Overall, I don't regret spending the money. It was a nerve wracking experience yeah, but the agent seemed to like my pitch and ended up giving me a card. While I haven't reached out to him due to me being dumb and not doing a lot of work on the manuscript in the last year or so, I still have his card pinned to my cubicle at work as a reminder that I need to keep doing this writing thing.

As for the rest of the conference, eh- I imagine it's a lot like the classes here, in that things like "how to write the first page", "panster or plotter?"  and "so you want to write a paranormal romance" panels are going to be really helpful for you..or they're things you already know or have heard before.