The title of this blog post says it all, but … we have a literary agent! *cue confetti* You may have seen us reveal the announcement on Twitter this week, but in case you haven’t, we are now repped by Peter Knapp at Park Literary. (!!!) We’ve talked briefly about how we’ve been querying over the past few years, but never really went in-depth. We enjoy reading “How-I-Got-My-Agent” posts and reading stats, so we’re going to discuss how we got an agent for our newest manuscript through a pitch contest!
The name of the most recent contest we entered–and the one we got our agent through–is #DVpit on Twitter. It’s a contest devoted to boosting marginalized voices/writers, created by Beth Phelan at The Bent Agency. We pitched a different manuscript in the first-ever #DVpit in April 2016, and a few contests previous to that (PitchSlam 2015, for example! #TeamSlytherin). We didn’t enter #DVpit again this past October because we were participating in #PitchWars for that same MS! The book we pitched this time around, April 2017, was unlike any other manuscript we’d ever written. And we wrote it feverishly fast. We began writing it in December 2016, finished the first draft in February 2017, and edited it in April, just before #DVpit.
The number of ‘likes’ we got during the #DVpit event was insane. Like, seriously. Our eyeballs still won’t quite take it all in.We’re still pretty much in shock that we’re even writing this post in the first place. The querying process has been hard and trying. (“The Query Trenches,” as most people call it.) We were querying a different MS for nearly two years before pitching this one. Less than a week after we sent out the first batch of queries for this MS to #DVpit agents, we got an offer of rep.
Yeah. We can’t believe it, either.
Especially after two years of hoping for that one yes. Of waiting, of wishing, of hoping. Of reading a million “How I Got My Agent!” posts.
People aren’t kidding when they say the publishing industry is all about luck and timing. You can edit and edit and edit a manuscript, but if an agent doesn’t love it, or if it’s not the right time for it in the market … well, safe to say you know what that means. (Sigh.) But if it’s the PERFECT time for a book? If the right agent at the right time reads it, and they love it? It’s the start of a whole new journey.
Let’s just say The Call changed our lives. It was exhilarating and nerve-wracking all at once. And the following nine-ish days were both stressful and exciting.
And now, for some stats!
For this manuscript: (All #DVpit requests!)
Queries sent: 18
Full requests: 13
No responses: 1
For the PitchWars MS: we sent ~100 queries. We got lots of full requests after tweaking the query a couple times, and a good amount of interest from pitch contests we entered in 2015-2016. We came close many times, once even having gotten a R&R, but never landing in an offer of rep.
Bottom line, don’t give up. And the best piece of writing advice we could give? WRITE. Even if you’re querying something and constantly refreshing your inbox. (We know, it’s a thing.) Write something new. Plot something new. We kind of wish we’d taken this advice to heart earlier. You never know what manuscript will land you your agent, and (hopefully!) your book deal. Also: get eyes on your MS! Solidify those opening pages as much as you can. We were lucky enough to have gotten lots of query/opening page critiques from #DVpit volunteers, and they really helped whip our materials into shape! We also learned a ton from PitchWars, so if you’re thinking about entering this year, DO IT. You won’t regret it! We gained a huge community of writers-turned-friends, and an amazing mentor, Stephanie Scott, who pushed us to do our best. Everything we learned was instrumental when writing and editing this new manuscript. We had a group of amazing fellow PitchWars mentees to do writing sprints with, which really helped in how quickly we were able to begin querying this MS. (We will talk more about the manuscript, the editing process, and the inspiration behind it in a separate post!)
If you’re interested in learning more about querying, there’s a series of amazing posts on author Gloria Chao’s blog that we highly recommend.
All the agents who offered were so, so awesome, which made this process both exciting and stressful. (On the outside, I’ve always dreamed of having offers. Now, I realize how stressful–in a good way–those phone calls can be.) By the deadline, though, we knew we wanted to go with offer #1: Pete!
Thanks for reading, and good luck–whether you’re readying yourself to query, or if you’re in the trenches yourself. We are rooting you on!
Until next time,
Sarena and Sasha