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August 17, 2010

How I Got the Agent I Never Queried

Kate Hart
I've always loved reading people's agent stories, and some of the girls at AW requested to hear mine-- and then Kath demanded it. So here goes.

APRIL:
Started querying REFUGE.

MAY:
Got requests. Got several "the writing is good but there's a spark missing" responses. Started writing AFTER THE FALL.

JUNE:
To my surprise, finished writing AFTER THE FALL. Knew immediately that first draft was better than seventh draft of REFUGE.

JULY:
Betas agreed. The lovely Michelle Schusterman informed everyone that it "ripped her face off." (I love her.)

JULY 26:
Sent queries for ATF to 8 agents.

JULY 27:
Woke up to 3 full requests. Almost died of shock.

JULY 27-28:
Packed frantically for LA, a task made more difficult by a crippling need to check my email every. five. seconds. Continued to freak out as more full requests showed up.

JULY 29-AUGUST 2:
Fun at SCBWI. Copious borrowing of friends' iPhones. Tried to keep the crazy under control.
  • AUGUST 1: On bus back to hotel from Hollywood, Kirsten asked if I was going to query her agent, Michelle. I explained that I still had a REFUGE query for Michelle at her last agency, and didn't know how to query her at the new one, or if I even should. Kirsten offered to contact her. I responded with semi-coherent thanks and blabber.
AUGUST 3:
Flew home. Checked messages on runway after landing in Dallas. I HAVE AN OFFER. Did a little dance in my seat. Girl next to me did dance with me. (Thank you girl flying from Seattle to Dallas for a Mary Kay conference!) Spent time before next delayed flight calling husband, BFF and mom. Squealing ensued. (Except for husband, whose reaction was appropriately enthusiastic in a manly way, of course.)

AUGUST  4:
Sent emails to agents who had ATF, or REFUGE, or in some cases, just a query for either.
I GET ANOTHER OFFER.

AUGUST 5-6:
I HAVE THREE MORE OFFERS OMG. And one of them was from Michelle, who requested the full without a query, based on whatever nice things Kirsten told her.

AUGUST 7:
Husband left for DC. I spent the day wondering how to survive the crazy without him.

AUGUST 8:
Email with locked attachment from BFF that said "I will call at 10:45 with the password." At 10:45, she called, I opened the document, and found: "Say this out loud: ACCIO BFF." So I did.

Doorbell rang.

!!!!

AUGUST 9-12:
OMG WTF I HAVE ANOTHER OFFER. BFF watched children, kept me sane and reminded me to do things like eat because OMG WHAT is this insanity the next offer makes SEVEN and this one is for REFUGE!

As alpha/beta/most important reader, BFF helped breakdown all the agents' suggested revisions. As my BFF, she took one look at me and said, "You're in love with Michelle."

And I was.

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But it was still a ridiculously hard decision, because I loved some others too. I purposely didn't query anyone I wasn't absolutely sure I'd like to work with-- which is a great strategy, until you have to pick between them and they're all freaking awesome.

Finally, though, it came down to the advice that the amazing Myra McEntire gave me: Go with your gut. You want someone who's genuinely excited. And considering Michelle offered to get on a plane and fly to Arkansas to meet me, I couldn't doubt her enthusiasm. (I also couldn't possibly ask her to fly here when it's 102 degrees.)

(Also, her agency's hold music is old school Michael Jackson. And she tells me their office walls are green with gold glitter. SPARKLES, people. And their agency cookout involved ice cream and Frisbee. These things all suggest a match, despite my tendency to get hit in the head with Frisbees pretty much anytime one's around.)

Of course I didn't pick just based on excitement (or sparkles, or "Don't Stop Till You Get Enough"). Michelle's revision suggestions for ATF are amazing, and then she read REFUGE and her suggestions for it were just perfect. When I found myself at the library, checking out the research books she'd recommended for its revisions, I knew the decision was already made-- her suggestions had already registered as the ones that matched my vision, but challenged it to be better.  

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When I queried REFUGE, I desperately did not want the "start writing your second book" axiom to be true. I started writing ATF as a writing exercise, nothing more. But it turned into a lot more. A whole lot more.

Sometimes things don't work out the way you expect, but that way turns out to be just about perfect.

Thank you to all of the amazing agents, writers, friends and family who have gotten me this far. I hope I can do your support justice.

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ETA: I should add: I know it's sometimes disheartening to hear that someone got an agent based on their connections. Please believe me when I say-- Yes, it helped, but I did get offers from people I have no connection to at all. People get picked out of the slush all the time and if you're doing your research, reading blogs like these, you may very well be next.

Also... I feel kind of obnoxious putting my stats out here for the world to see. I hope it helps someone the way other people's stories helped me. :)

49 comments:

  1. Wow that is amazing how fast it happened for you! Congrats!

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  2. THIS IS SO AMAZING. I'm so happy for you!! <3

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  3. This is really great!! I'm really happy for you and the way things turned out so perfectly! Best, best, best of luck to you!

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  4. I WANT TO BE YOU. So awesome!! Congrats again! I'm so happy for you : ) : )

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  5. Okay. Sock puppets be damned. I'm freaking tearing up and I already knew most of this.

    Also, I think I love your BFF. Just saying.

    PS - I could tell you loved Michelle too, but I was trying to be like Switzerland.

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  6. WOOT--awesome story for an OUTSTANDING book AND writer! Of course I'm bummed that we won't be agent-mates (sniff!) but am so glad you went with your gut and made a decision you feel great about! YAY YAY YAY!

    P.S. Michael Jackson? Really? *sighs* :D

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  7. That's a great story. It's kind of amazing how things happen!

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  8. *does Snoopy dance*

    *repeatedly*

    *side to side*

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  9. Celebrations like this call for one thing, and one thing only.

    Limericks.


    I beta'd a book with haste
    Indeed, at a very fast pace
    But it made me sob
    I knew agents would mob
    Because this book ripped off my face.

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  10. AMAZING
    AMAZING
    AMAZING

    i'm so INEXPLICABLY happy for you.

    ENJOY EVERY SINGLE MOMENT YOU WONDERFUL WOMAN.

    love you SO BIG.

    <33333

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  11. Wheeeeee

    What a great story :)

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  12. This story is seriously amazing and made my life. And it's not even mine. I can only imagine what you went through and that's awesome! Congrats to you!

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  13. Wow what an amazing story! And great motivation for all of us out there :) Thanks for sharing!

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  14. OMG YOU ARE MADE OF SO MUCH WIN!!!! Congrats on your SEVEN offers of rep! *squee*

    Also, I'm so totally jealous, and I'm not even ready to start querying yet lol.

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  15. did I already know you're in Arkansas? what part? Can't remember if we had this conversation already or not!

    and that is a truly awesome story! Yay for networking!

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  16. Thank you everyone!

    Kath-- I love her too. :)

    Deb-- I'm bummed too... although maybe a little less now that you're slamming MJ... ;)

    *installs camera in Myra's house to record the Snoopy dance*

    Michelle, I bow to you.

    Tamara-- I'm in Tontitown! I actually have a Springdale zipcode! We should talk. :D

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  17. I am so *&^%ing excited for you and DESPERATE TO READ YOUR BOOKS.

    You deserve this times 10000000000000000x.

    BraVA.

    :D

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  18. I'm so glad to hear a bit more of the 'story' behind you getting repped. I've wanted to harass you and ask you every little detail but I figured you would share more of it when you made your decision and were ready.

    It is not obnoxious to put your stats out, you have been way to modest about all this if you ask me lol I would have been shouting it from the roof tops to anyone that would listen hahhaha

    Congrats again my dear Kate, love yah!

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  19. Congratulations!

    GREAT timeline and *amazing* outcome! :)

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  20. Yay! Congratulations. What a great story. :)

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  21. Congratulations! From reading your writing through teasers, I had a hunch you would get multiple offers. Awesome!
    Good luck on the rest of the process.
    :)

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  22. This is so inspiring! Thanks for sharing this. And congrats again!!

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  23. Kate, this is so freaking amazing. Congrats, congrats, congrats! (Totally tinged with respectful jealousy of course.)

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  24. Congratulations! What an amazing ride! Can I be BFFs with your BFF?

    -Liz

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  25. I'm so proud of you. Thank you for sharing. You have my enthusiasm back up!

    *runs off to corner to write*

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  26. That's a dream query run, Kate!

    OMG
    OMG
    It's so freaking brilliant it's unbelievable.

    Now go conquer the world! :D

    Xx

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  27. YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY so happy for you! 7 offers?! That's impressive!

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  28. Wow. I am AMAZED! 7 offers, that's just incredible - which means the books are incredible. :) Congrats!!!

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  29. 1 ZILLION SQEES.

    And thank you for sharing your numbers -- it gives me tons of hope when I finally get brave enough to query!!

    YOU = TEH AWESOME

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  30. you are KICK ASS. CONGRATULATIONS!!! <321

    best of luck and can't wait to see your novels on the shelves one day ;D

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  31. I am actually breathless after reading this because it's so exciting and great. I get especially happy when awesome things happen to kind, good people, so needless to say, I am especially happy for you. (Not to get all mushy on you. But I had to say it.)

    Also: I SO WANT TO READ THIS MANUSCRIPT OF WONDER.

    And: congratulations again!

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  32. Yayyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!! I knew you were awesome!

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  33. Oh my goodness, what an amazing story! I am so happy for you. Good job going with your gut - sometimes that is the only way to make the right decision.

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  34. What a dream story! But you busted your butt for it, and look where it got you! You should be super duper sparkly proud.

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  35. I'm so happy for you, Kate! There's not enough confetti to throw your way. Well, there is, but then we'd be in trouble for polluting and having to clean up when it's time to CELEBRATE!

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  36. Kate!

    I started following you because you were an awesome cool mom/writer, and since then I've been mostly stalking your posts (in the friendliest way possible, I assure you) AND NOW YOU ARE AN AWESOME/COOL MOM/AUTHOR.

    Thank you for writing! And best of luck! (Let me know when the book is published, please. I wanna buy. :) )

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  37. Thank you for sharing your querying journey with us! This is just simply amazing. Congratulations again!

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  38. You are amazing and I HAVEN'T FORGOTTEN that you promised I could still read ATF even if you got an agent before I had time to beta :P

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  39. omg this is one of the most inspiring agent-dom storirs ever. congrats kate :)

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  40. I love this story and I love I got to sort of live it right beside you and I love that I'm part of it and I love that I even remember the moment when I told you I'd speak to Michelle -- on the bus in LA -- and I'm just so, so, so proud of you, and hark! is that "electric feel" in the other room? *runs off to dance*

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  41. I wish Blogger did threaded comments so I could thank each of you individually! Thank you all so so much!

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  42. That is a great story, and a great accomplishment! Congrats!

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  43. Really cool to hear your story-- thanks for sharing!

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  44. Awesome! CONGRATS!

    My favorite was August 8th--what a brilliant BFF you have. :)

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  45. This is a great testimony not only to share as joy for you, but as a source of encouragement for those looking for their testimony.

    Congratulations!!

    I love how swiftly it all happened for you. God is awesome! Best wishes and continued success. =)

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  46. How is it that I didn't know this?? I feel like the worst person ever. EVER.

    Michelle is fantastic!! I'm so glad you signed with her!

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  47. Wow. Seriously, wow. Congratulations! Sounds like your book is amazing! :)

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