“‘The Promise of Water’ is as graceful as it is powerful —
a bracing and heart-breaking plunge into the mystery of identity, the boundlessness of love.”
Richard Adams Carey, author of IN THE EVIL DAY, THE PHILOSOPHER FISH, and AGAINST THE TIDE

How I landed a literary agent – Part Two

Today, I am wrapping up my two-part series, “How I landed a literary agent.” If you have not read Part One, it’s worth going back to read, especially if you are an aspiring author who is getting ready to query agents or is currently in the midst of this exciting, hair-pulling experience. Part One covers how I went about the query process. This post shares the process of securing agency representation.

By now, you likely know that my agent is the wonderful Elizabeth Copps of the Maria Carvainis Agency (MCA). While I had had a number of great interactions with agents in terms of timeliness and feedback, I was particularly impressed with the staff at MCA. I suppose the agency’s responsiveness and steady engagement was an early sign that this was going to be a good match for me. (You know the phrase, “He’s just not that into you,” right? Well, searching for an agent is kind of like that. If they don’t email you back, they’re just not that into you. And that’s okay – because why would you want to engage with anyone who’s not that into you anyway?)

Join Querytracker.net, a website where aspiring authors track their queries in a such a way that allows you to see response times of all kinds of agents. Plus it’s a fun way to bide your time while you wait to hear back! 

So, here’s how the “courting process” went down. I am sure that authors get offers in much less time and in much greater time; this is just my own story and timeline:

Original Query: 5/10/2014 

Response from a literary assistant (requested first 50 pages): 5/19/2014

Material sent: 5/19/2014 (no time to waste)

Response from another literary assistant (requested full manuscript): 6/16/2014

Nudge (Because I was getting antsy. But generally, I’d say don’t nudge before three months): 9/17/2014

Response from agent Elizabeth Copps: 9/18/2014. This email was my first introduction to Elizabeth. She offered outstanding feedback as well as an invitation to consider her feedback, revise, and resubmit. After a few days consideration, I replied back to let Elizabeth know that I planned to revise and resubmit.

Resubmit to MCA: 1/18/15

Nudge (But I did wait my recommended three months!): 3/14/2015 

Offer of representation: 5/26/2015

When Elizabeth talked about my characters, I could tell that she was truly engaged by who they are and by their potential to come off the page. She spoke about them with enthusiasm and got me thinking about them in a new, refreshing way. Ultimately, she and I traded emails until the end of May, at which time we discussed a few more revisions — some rearranging of content, additions to a few scenes, etc. One thing I appreciate about Elizabeth is her editorial eye. My goal was to find an agent who would partner with me editorially, someone who knew the business and what it takes to sell a manuscript. I’ve got that with Elizabeth. Once we knew we were on the same page and both mutually excited about where the manuscript was heading, MCA sent a contract, and I gleefully signed it on June 1, 2015.

From there, I used Elizabeth’s keen editorial guidance to make the next round of revisions to the book. We agreed to wait until after Labor Day to send it out since summer is not ideal timing for a publishing query. At that time, I suggested we hold another month or so while I gathered a few more blurbs about the book (THANK YOU, Ann Wertz Garvin and Diane Les Becquets!)

Stay tuned for a future post regarding my path to publication, and thanks for following along. If you’re an aspiring author, hang in there. Diligence, patience — and lots of revisions — will eventually pay off!

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A Crossley SpencerA. Crossley Spencer

A. Crossley Spencer is the author of The Promise of Water, a freelance writer and a teacher.

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