The Agent Search by Deb Eileen

With the publication of my first book looming, more and more I get questions from other writers who are starting to navigate the publishing waterways. They have a mistaken notion that I have some secrets or know what I’m doing. One of the most common questions I hear is:

“Where did you get your agent?”

Why WalMart of course – the aisle near office supplies.

No – don’t be foolish, Rachel Vater (Lowenstein and Yost) is much more of Tiffany’s type agent, you wouldn’t find quality like her in the mass market stores. She is unique, one of a kind.

So how did I find her? Honestly? I found her in a Writers Digest article. I read an interview with her. I liked what she had to say. I met one of her colleagues at a writer’s conference who confirmed my impression. This is how the process went:

  1. I sent her a query letter.
  2. She requested a partial.
  3. I sent the partial and produced more stomach acid than a bomb squad guy with palsy while I waited to hear back.
  4. She requested the full manuscript.
  5. I sent the manuscript and spent days chanting and praying full time like an entire Buddhist monastery.
  6. She called. We discussed the book, what I wanted in my career, her approach, our expectations of each other. She offered to represent me and I accepted.

Despite what people hint from time to time I can promise the following:

  • I did not know her before I queried her, nor did I know any of her family or friends
  • I had no “connections” in the publishing industry
  • I did not hold any pets or distant cousins of hers hostage while suggesting that “bad things” could happen if she failed to offer to represent me
  • No money exchanged hands (nor chocolate, flowers or other bribes)

I did do the following:

  • Tried to write a good book
  • Got some assistance (thank you Kristin Nelson) to write a snappy query
  • Took the time to try and learn as much as I could about the publishing industry and the role of agents
  • Was honest with myself about what I wanted/needed in an agent
  • Sold my soul to Satan in a Faust type deal (no I didn’t – I just wanted to see if you were paying attention – besides no one wants my soul – no rhythm)

I have no doubts that I work with one of the best agents in the business and the very best agent for me. I greatly value Rachel’s input and professional judgment. I appreciate her ability to talk me down when I’ve wound myself up (this happens more than you might think). I admire her business savvy and boundless enthusiasm for this business. I love her for loving my books and those of all her clients. I absolutely ADORE that she knows Miss Snark – which is almost as good as knowing her myself. I feel very fortunate to have not only a good business relationship – but also to really like my agent as a person.

If you are looking for an agent – keep looking. Don’t settle for any agent – find the right agent. They are out there. They are looking for you too.

7 Replies to “The Agent Search by Deb Eileen”

  1. Your agent knows Miss Snark? Miss Snark rocks. And not just because she continues to say nice things about Spinetingler.

    It’s hard to find the right agent. Harder than true love, I’ve been told. I was sorry to see that Mia is on the hunt again herself, but I’m glad you have an agent that you adore Eileen.

    Oh, and I’ve been trying to work out the pact to sell my soul to Satan but even he doesn’t want it. If I kill more people will that help my cause?

  2. Great post on the find-the-agent process – this was the same process I went through for both of my agents, except for maybe the part about being honest with myself about what I wanted. It’s so easy to be caught up in the moment (and worried nobody else will take you!) that you say yes before you’ve given yourself a chance to really explore. Someone who looks great on paper is not the same as having a real live relationship with them.

    And, having asked a question months ago that Eileen so sweetly asked of Rachel (and Rachel so sweetly – and promptly – responded to), I can vouch for that fact that Eileen has a kick a** lit agent.

  3. Excellent advice, Eileen. It does seem like an awful lot of people who either haven’t been through the process or are just beginning often think those of us with agents and books about to be published must have an “in” somewhere or know the secret handshake. It really is about educating yourself and working hard. Great post.

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