My Long and Winding Path to Representation

In 2013 I wrote a book called A SMALL LIFE. I revised it and by the fall, began querying it (much too soon). I scoured Janet Reid’s archives on Query Shark, I read through Query Tracker, researched who represented my favorite books, and assembled a list of agents to query.

On that initial list was Mollie Glick, who was then at Foundry. She wasn’t a new agent, but as I began to research agents, her voice stuck out to me. And when I queried her, I actually got a response! (Disclaimer: It was from her assistant. It simply said the premise sounded interesting and they looked forward to reading. I was new enough to querying that I believed I was on my way. Ha ha. Anyways.)

Fast forward three years. A SMALL LIFE went into a drawer and I wrote THE ONES WE CHOOSE. Mollie moved from Foundry to CAA and stopped taking on new clients. THE ONES WE CHOOSE was getting some traction with other dream agents, but they eventually passed. So in August of 2016 I applied to Pitch Wars and got in. Pitch Wars is an intense experience. Writers get matched with published authors to revise their manuscripts for an agent round. The participating agents are big names, and success stories from participating in the contest, while not guaranteed, are significant. Nearly half of the people in my Pitch Wars class are now represented.

So began an insane two months of re-writing with my mentors Karma Brown and Susan Bishop Crispell. Emails. Skype sessions. Revising at all hours. The agent round for my category (thankfully) happened prior to the election, when agents were still happy and hopeful, and I got twenty agent requests. Querying is a numbers game, and I knew that with so many people reading, an offer was possible. Maybe even likely. So I queried six more people—dream agents I’d always wanted to work with. Mollie was among them.

Since 2013 I had followed her, reading just about everything she represented that I could get my hands on. (This is a great way to get to know if an agent is a good fit for you). Sarah McCoy. Jonathan Evison. Rhonda Riley. Carol Rifka Brunt. Ali Benjamin. They write books similar to the ones I wanted to write, and I knew Mollie was a huge part of their success.

I got a full request the same day I queried her. The following day, I received an offer from one of the Pitch Wars agents, and notified everyone—all 26 of them—that an offer was on the table. So began a crazy two weeks of sending out full requests and fielding agent calls. Most agents will email you and ask to set up a time to call. Mollie just called. I was in the middle of teaching math when my phone rang. The screen said, “Maybe: Mollie Glick”. I couldn’t answer! I had to keep teaching and wait to call her back on my lunch break. That was a long hour.

I was lucky to be able to choose from eight incredible agents, who were all lovely and funny and smart beyond reason. I think I would have been very happy with any of them. But I felt like I had a history with Mollie that went back to 2013. I’d been studying her authors’ books for years, so signing with her felt like a natural fit for me.

Querying is hard (more on that in a future post). It’s so tempting to give up. But don’t. Keep writing. Keep your eye out for opportunities like Pitch Wars. Do your research. Read a lot. Follow agents on Twitter. Search the internet for interviews. There are a lot of great resources out there for querying writers. Educate yourself before you query. That way you know what to expect, and you know you’re putting your best foot forward.

 

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Born and raised in Santa Monica, California, Julie Clark grew up reading books on the beach while everyone else surfed. After attending college at University of the Pacific, and a brief stint working in the athletic department at University of California, Berkeley, she returned home to Santa Monica to teach. She now lives there with her two young sons and a golden doodle with poor impulse control. Her debut, THE ONES WE CHOOSE, will be published by Gallery/Simon & Schuster in May 2018.

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This article has 4 Comments

    1. I’ll always be grateful for Pitch Wars and Brenda Drake. In 2016, Brenda changed the format of Pitch Wars so that each category had their own day for agent requests. I think this made a huge difference for the adult category. In the past, I feel like many of the adult entries didn’t get as much attention because of the large number of MG and YA entries surrounding them. It worked well for me!

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