My Agent Journey Began with A Contest…

Oh my oh my! Let’s chat about my agent quest. According to the time of day, I invite you to grab a cup of coffee, tea, or a coup of champagne, and settle back into your fav comfy chair and listen carefully…

It’s a combination of luck, hard work, a good book, and being in the right place at the right time, making the agent search sound like a mysterious journey where actionable answers don’t come as readily as you might like. 

But I guess the best way I can talk about the search is to share my experience.

It all began in 2014–which feels like a century ago in publishing. Back then, I was a member of Romance Writers of America (RWA) and had entered its annual Golden Heart® Contest. It was what unpublished romance authors did at the time (oh, I am no longer a romance writer but am a huge fan of reading romance. But I also love a good love story–but right now, I am in love with the genre I write, which is historical fiction)!

Anyway, in 2014, I won the Golden Heart® in the Romantic Suspense category, and as a winner, the next step was to go off and find an agent. Well, contest wins don’t automatically mean agent contracts (or any other form of contract). But I kept writing and kept entering contests, and kept finaling, and even winning now and then. And I wrote in any number of categories from Romantic Suspense to Paranormal to Urban Fantasy to Historical Fiction. The visibility helped me meet several agents, some during one-on-one sessions. The old in-person conference model helped in this area, too.

I was in San Diego in 2016 at another RWA conference, after several face-to-face meetings, telephone conversations (perhaps only one:), and situations where my future agent was a contest judge for one of the contests I won (for Wild Women and the Blues by the way), I had an agent. The fantabulous Nalini Akolekar at Spencherhill Associates! And her patience and insight helped me get my book ready for submission in 2018, and in 2019, we found a home for my debut novel with Kensington Books!

So, that is my agent tale–and the moral of the story may be–keep trying, keep writing, don’t be shy about meeting people (when that can happen in person again), but the same goes now for meeting people online. There are programs like PitchWars (I am a mentor this year) and online pitch sessions, participate! Join online writing communities in your genre, ask questions, seek advice, and, most of all, keep writing!


Author: Denny S. Bryce

Denny S. Bryce is an award-winning author and three-time RWA Golden Heart® finalist, including twice for WILD WOMEN AND THE BLUES, her debut historical fiction novel coming on March 30, 2021. She also writes book reviews for NPR Books, entertainment articles for FROLIC Media, and debut author video interviews for A Mighty Blaze.