Deb Elise’s Twisted Road to Her Super-Fab Book Agent

Winding RoadI was e-chatting with Deb Sarah the other day, and we were saying we both believe things tend to happen for a reason.  I can point to a million seemingly random twists of fate in my life (I landed a role as a Witch in Macbeth with a teeny tiny theater company), that led to earth-shattering changes (the stage manager of that show fixed me up on a blind date… with my now-husband-of-almost-thirteen-years).

Getting a book agent was like that for me.

I guess technically I don’t have a book agent.  I have a terrific TV/film agent, but for books I have a super-fab packager/manager, and Populazzi never would have happened without her.  I met her when she was an executive at Disney Channel.  A friend and I pitched her a musical (this was after High School Musical — we were trying to ride the wave) and she loved it… then she and the company parted ways a week later.

By all rights that should have been the end of the story, but as I’m finding more and more — much to my delight — it’s never the end of the story.  The exec… or ex-exec, I suppose… became an independent producer, and she and I worked on other projects together.  While we didn’t sell any of them, we developed a fantastic rapport, and I was constantly amazed by her ability to slice through to the heart of a story, and bring out the best in my writing.

Then one day I received a call from her.  “Hi, Elise!  I don’t suppose you have any book ideas, do you?”  She had gone back to her roots in publishing, had already successfully sold two books (and their TV/film rights), and was looking for more properties.

Oddly enough, I did have an unfinished manuscript on my computer.  I sent it to her, she loved it, gave me remarkably insightful notes… and suddenly I had both an agent (okay, packager/manager) and the beginnings of what would become Populazzi.

I know this isn’t the normal way these things happen, but the takeaway for me is the importance of being open to the unexpected, and grabbing opportunities when they arise.

I’d love to hear from you — what chance encounters or seemingly insignificant events in your life led to something unexpectedly career- or life-changing?  I look forward to hearing about them!

~ Deb Elise

11 Replies to “Deb Elise’s Twisted Road to Her Super-Fab Book Agent”

  1. I love the packager/manager title. Is that what it says on her business cards? 🙂

    Sounds a lot like fate to me, but then we romance authors always seem to think that. Lovely story!


    1. I’ve actually never seen her business cards, but they’d have to awfully large for the full title!

      I go with the Joseph Campbell follow-your-bliss and you’ll be amazed by what turns up in your path… But that’s really an awful lot like fate. 🙂

  2. How about a cautionary tale instead?

    I entered a partial manuscript in a contest judged by editors and agents. And I won! And it was requested by some of the aforementioned agents and editors!

    Except the manuscript wasn’t finished yet. And as I embarked on the world’s fastest finishing-of-manuscript project, I found myself kneeling on the floor, crippled with what felt like heart-attack level chest pain. Every night.

    J.C. finally convinced me to go to the doctor, who determined that I needed my gall bladder out, and soon. So instead of spending those weeks finishing that manuscript, I spent them having and then recovering from surgery. By the time I was well, I had pretty much missed that window of opportunity.

    However, I also figured out that manuscript wasn’t really one I cared about or wanted to finish, agents and editors aside. I ditched it and took the chance on writing a different story, which led me to The Weird Sisters.

    I have no idea what the moral of this story is. Be prepared? Don’t be prepared? In any case, I’m glad *you* had the manuscript to submit!

    1. I actually only submitted a partial manuscript! I turned in that, plus a detailed summary of the book, and I went to NYC and pitched the book in person during a whirlwind trip. It was insane, and incredibly fun.

    1. I do believe that. There are really so many huge parts of my life that only fell into place after a series of bizarre, seemingly insignificant events. Even the Debs – I never would have known anything about the Ball except for a random chance encounter with Deb Katie.

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