Most people get their agent, go on submission, and then sell their book. Nope, not me. I’m not good at doing things the “conventional” way. I sold the book first—which I thought would make finding an agent a cinch. Not so much, but more on that later.
First, the book deal. I sold Memento Nora after submitting to several editors who were on a panel at the SCBWI Mid-Atlantic conference in Arlington. (Best $100+ I ever spent.) I got nibbles from two of the editors, but after a revision I sold the book to Marshall Cavendish. Then I scrambled to find an agent.
And like I said, I thought having a book deal in hand would make finding the agent easy or at least easier. I started querying agents, including one who’d been at the same conference, and they’ll all passed or didn’t even reply. (All equals about six or seven.)
Discouraged, I turned to the SCBWI bulletin board with hopes of finding out if this was unusual. Instead, I found a couple of agents who were specifically looking for SCBWI members. So I queried them, and Tina Wexler (ICM) thankfully requested a full manuscript and agreed to get back to me over the weekend.
Meanwhile, I met another agent through a work connection, and she also requested a full manuscript and agreed to get back to me over the same weekend.
So I was prepared not to hear from either of them until that Monday. However, Friday night, Tina emailed that she’d devoured Memento Nora at her desk that day and had to sneak into the bathroom at another author’s book launch to let me know. Come Monday, the other agent also offered representation, but I really had to go with Tina’s enthusiasm. I knew she was the one who really believed in my work—and that’s crucial to have on your side.