Okay, so it's been a great theme week here at The League. We've been sharing stories of how we got our agents. I'm up today, and while I think my story is pretty fantastic, it was not-so-fantastic as I was living through it.
That said, I hope it'll inspire just one person to take the next step in their creative endeavor, whatever that may be. Writing, photography, painting, dance, etc.
So let's do a little flashback in time.
2007: Elana begins writing. Everything is awesome! Every word well-chosen and perfectly placed.
2008: Elana queries her first novel. Everything is not awesome. Every word is wrong, and every sentence awkwardly constructed.
I learned in 2008 that the first book I queried was not good enough. I sent nearly 150 query letters, and everyone told me no, either on the query or on the submission.
While I did not find a literary agent with this book, I did discover how to write a query letter. I even went so far as to put together a guide on how to write a query letter. It's free, and you can download it here (scroll down to the bottom to find the link).
I learned that I love writing query letters, and I still write them to this day, either for myself or for others (go to my blog to see what I mean!).
During the rejection-hell-of-2008, I wrote Possession. I was querying The Other Novel, though, so I set it aside. In November, 2008, when I realized The Other Novel wasn't going to be The One, I quit querying it, and I looked at what I'd written to decide what I should polish up and send out next.
Quitting wasn't an option.
2009: I polish up my next novel in preparation to query it. I begin sending letters in April. I get a lot of good feedback. Partials are being upgraded to fulls. Fulls are requested from the query letter--which sometimes was only 2 sentences long.
Oh yeah, I was feeling good. I felt like Possession was The One.
Yet months passed. I queried. I sent submissions. Yes, I got rejections. A lot of rejections.
In June, I queried my agent, Michelle Andelman. She asked for the full, and two weeks later she asked for anything else I'd written. It was a good sign--but it was summer.
Things moved slowly. I revised for another agent. I talked to two other agents on the phone.
No offers of representation.
In September, after a summer that felt eternal and like nothing was happening, I get brave. Actually, what I did was "Go George" according to that Seinfeld episode where George Constanza does everything the exact opposite of what he's always done.
I emailed Michelle and basically said, "I know you like Possession. I can revise it if you want. Can we talk about it on the phone?"
And she said yes, and a call was set up!
She still didn't offer, but gave me some suggestions for revisions and we set a deadline in October when I would get them back to her.
So I did the revisions without the promise of an offer, and I turned them in on time. Two weeks later, on Veterans Day in 2009, the real call came. I had representation!
I queried Possession for 8 months. I sent 189 query letters, and 54 submissions (either partials or fulls). I only got one offer of representation, but it only takes one.
We went on to sell Possession in a short time, and every time I email or talk with Michelle, I'm reminded how she's the perfect agent for me and my work.
So there you have it! Between my two books, I queried for a combined total of 16 months and sent hundreds of query letters. That's how I got my agent.
Are you currently in the midst of something hard? Don't give up! The Thing You Need could be just around the corner.