Please give her a warm welcome. What you are about to read is amazing and inspiring.
How I Got an Agent
by Tracy Clark
by Tracy Clark
While I was on the search for an agent, one of the things I found most fascinating were “agent stories”. I wanted to know the tricks and secrets, maybe glean a little from those who had jumped from the boat of the agentless to the boat where every sentence begins with, “My agent said…”
I see now that people’s stories about how they became agented are varied and unique. Mine doesn’t fall into the category of ‘common ways to get an agent’, but I think there is a helpful lesson in the path I took. I hope so, cause I want you in the boat with me.
When I began thinking about how I got my agent, the savvy and sweet Michael Bourret with Dystel & Goderich, I realized there were a series of steps that led me to that thrilling moment.
I have to say, it really started with winning the SCBWI Work in Progress Grant in the fall of 2009 with my YA novel, The Circle Journal (now titled: Chalk Houses). I am not being falsely modest when I say that I sent that grant application off with a very, “hell, you can’t win if you don’t play” kind of attitude. I am seriously still in awe that my work was appreciated in that way. I will always be grateful.
Shortly after the grant announcements, I was contacted by an editor who was interested in reading the manuscript. Funny enough, I didn’t feel it was ready to be seen yet but told her I’d send it when it was. In January of this year, I attended the SCBWI Winter Conference in New York. I introduced myself to that editor who asked again when I was going to send the manuscript. She also asked me if I had an agent and instructed me to introduce myself to Michael Bourret, who also happened to be at the conference.
I cannot deny or confirm that what happened next may or may not have involved quickly ducking into a VIP party to meet him. Needless to say, I left having made the introduction and sent him a query within a couple of weeks…on my 40th birthday, figuring that turning the big 4-OMG had to have a silver lining. This is a prime example of why you should ALWAYS make a wish on your birthday, by the way!
Not wanting to put all of my eggs in one basket, I did query a handful of other agents as well. Just to show you how subjective this business is; the responses ranged from form rejections, to rejections of heartfelt regret and encouragement, to requests for partials and fulls.
About three months later, I knew that Mr. Bourret was to attend a local Nevada SCBWI event and was very hopeful and excited that we would get to meet again and perhaps chat about my submission. I was also thrilled to learn that I was placed in his manuscript critique group over the weekend! I think one of the wisest decisions I made was to read from a new, current work in progress so that he could see what else I had up my sleeve.
Within a couple of weeks of that Nevada SCBWI conference, I accepted Michael Bourret’s offer of representation.
Back to that valuable lesson I alluded to earlier: I believe that it was the brave act of putting myself ‘out there’ that helped me to find and sign with my dream agent. If I hadn’t had the pluck to apply for the SCBWI WIP Grant, or to approach the editor in person in New York, or the moxie, okay…swagger to finagle an introduction to Michael at that party, or participated in my local SCBWI events, then it wouldn’t have happened the way it did. Be brave. Put yourself out there! Meet people, participate, take chances. Hell. You can’t win if you don’t play!