How I Got an Agent, Lost that Agent, and Found a New One (Without Losing my Mind)

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(This post originally appeared on the WriteForKids Blog)

Like many of you, I’ve been knee deep in the querying trenches, desperately trying to make my submission stand out in the staggering slush pile. And as we all know, this process is time consuming. It goes on and on, peppered with rejection letters, until we finally get a bite.

I signed with my first agent a few weeks after I got my first bite. In my mind, my problems were now over. Yahoo! No more submissions! No more Twitter pitch parties! No more querying! I was already visualizing a book contract with the Big Five.

But that’s not how the cookie crumbled.

Here are 3 truths nobody tells you about landing an agent:

  1. It can be anti-climactic: Don’t expect a book deal the next day, week or month.
  2. You will still need patience: The submission process is laborious, no matter who’s doing the submitting.
  3. You will still get rejected: The difference is that now, the rejections get sent to your agent.

These were sobering lessons for me. That said, getting an agent was a step in the right direction. I was ecstatic my manuscripts were now floating into the hands of reputable publishers.

My agent submitting four picture books over the course of the next year. I waited. And I waited. It was rejection after rejection, or no answer at all. I knew there was no set timeline on when that first contract would materialize. It’s always a gamble. I told myself I would give my agent a year and then re-assess.

BUT- early on, I began to have my doubts. I foolishly cast those doubts aside and remained in denial for months. I continued to feel my agent and I were not so aligned nor did we communicate the same way. I ended up waiting a year and a half.

I have no regrets. But my advice is this: TRUST YOUR GUT. If you feel something is askew, I suggest communicating this to your agent clearly. See if things change. If things don’t improve, you may need to re-evaluate.

When I finally decided to part ways with my agent, it was excruciating. I lost sleep for a week as I obsessed over the pros and cons. But I knew what I had to do. The day I pulled the plug, I sank into depressing thoughts and wondered if I did the right thing. And then I realized, with horror:


It took a few weeks for me to come to terms with that. When I was ready, I took a deep breath and got back to work. After a few rounds of subbing, I fell upon an agent who was passionate about my stories. We had several conversations and she remained patient throughout my ridiculously long list of questions (after all, I had been around the block and knew better what I wanted).

I still have to deal with rejection and long wait times, but this partnership feels right. The journey we’re on feels exciting. Everything turned out the way it’s meant to: I got an agent, walked away from that agent, and then found a new one without losing my mind. I admit that last part is debatable, but it was all worth it!

In the end, everyone is on their own journey. For those of you in the querying trenches: I feel you. Keep working hard and trust your intuition, and things will eventually fall into place.

Good luck!

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