Posts Tagged ‘agenting’

I really love this new How I Met My Client/Agent series on the blog and hope you do too! One of my favorite things about it is that it illustrates the many paths to finding representation.

I first met Carol Berg at a pitch appointment at the Pikes Peak Writers Conference in 1999. Now, I’m going to tell you a secret—I met a lot of people at that conference. As I remember, they worked their guests pretty hard, with hours upon hours of back to back appointments day after day, so that by the time it was over I’d have been lucky to put any face to any name or pitch. However, I very cleverly asked Carol to send me her material. Full disclosure—as long as a pitch is in a genre I represent and doesn’t sound too off the wall or done to death or glaring with logic gaps, I will ask to see a portion, because some people are amazing writers and poor pitchers or vice versa. It’s the material that truly tells you what you need to know.

song of the beast And Carol’s material was incredible! As you might guess, I was swamped with submissions after the conference and also in general, because this was back when I was the first reader for everything at the office, not just my own submissions. So, I read always and everywhere. In bed, in the bathtub, on trains, planes and…well, not in automobiles. I get car sick when I read in the car. Except…well, my husband and I had to take a road trip and he was driving and I had so much to read that I thought maybe I could knock out a few submission reads on the way. I got to exactly one. Carol Berg had sent me synopses for four books and sample chapters for two of them.

Those chapters absolutely blew me away. In fact, I was so impressed that I read pages out loud to my husband, interjecting with pithy commentary like “Wow” and “She’s incredible!” He agreed, of course, because he is a man of perspicacity and taste. So, I read and read until I was stopped by the state of my stomach. It was worth every second.

As soon as I was back in the office, I requested fulls and was thrilled when they lived up to the promise of the partials I’d already seen.

As Carol says in her piece (up next), it wasn’t long before we had offers and a deal. Not too long thereafter, we had covers and release dates and amazing reviews pouring in.   I’m so thrilled the world has gotten to see what Pete and I knew right off the bat—that Carol Berg is a force for fantasy. We’ve been together now through her Rai-Kirah series (TRANSFORMATION, REVELATION, RESTORATION), her stand-along SONG OF THE BEAST (winner of the Colorado Book Award for Science Fiction/Fantasy), her Bridge of D’Arnath series (SON OF AVONAR, GUARDIANS OF THE KEEP, THE SOUL WEAVER and DAUGHTER OF ANCIENTS), the Lighthouse Duet (FLESH AND SPIRIT and BREATH AND BONE, Mythopoeic Award winners), the Collegica Magica series (THE SPIRIT LENS, THE SOUL MIRROR and THE DAEMON PRISM) and, most recently, the Sanctuary duology (DUST AND LIGHT and ASH AND SILVER).

She’s written some of the most memorable characters in fantasy (the tortured Seyonne from the Rai-Kirah series arguably my favorite, but there’s some very stiff competition here!). I’m so thrilled that every time a new Carol Berg novel comes in, I get to read it first!

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How I Met My Agent by Carol Berg

I was a latecomer to professional fiction writing—a software engineer with three mostly grown sons, an exceptional spouse who bleeds hardware, and an omnivorous reading habit. But a friend had seduced me into writing letters “in character” to feed her own writing hobby, and I fell in love with writing fantasy novels for fun. I call it the hobby that ate my life. In 1998, I started a new story which felt different from those that had come before. It was as if I got itit being a notion that I was sitting inside the head of my hero, knowing exactly what he was feeling and experiencing. Either I had stepped to another level of writing, or I was going slightly crazy – or maybe those are really something the same.

My friend and I decided to try out the Pikes Peak Writers Conference to see what we could learn about the publishing industry. And wow, did we get an earful. Besides craft workshops, we listened to actual agents and editors talk about what they were looking for and how the publishing process works. We also met our first Real Published Author, who sat and talked to us about her career, all the good, bad, and elsewise. This generous person was Christie Golden – who, as it happens, appeared in this very column not so long ago!

That conference also introduced me to the Friday afternoon Read-and-Critique session. The R&C, aka the “split your chest open in front of the whole world session,” is where eight or ten writers read the first few pages of their work for a pro and get a critique on the spot. I tried it, and truly thought I was going to bleed out before I’d ever read a word. But the reception was positive, so I came back a year later and tried it again. By this time, my breakthrough story had won the first novel contest at Pikes Peak, and I had started a new story to read for a fantasy/science fiction editor from Roc Books.

The editor hardly said anything. I didn’t think she liked it. But when my friend shoved me into a ten-minute pitch session with her, in which I babbled incoherently for eight minutes, the editor said she wanted to see that book when I was finished with it.

Amid stunned incoherence, my ever trusty friend and I retreated to our computer and started researching agents. And what did we find out? One of the guest agents at Pikes Peak that year was Lucienne Diver, who not only had a stellar reputation, but represented Christie Golden, who had been so kind and open the previous year! So I squeezed in an appointment with Lucienne, and immediately decided that this was the person I wanted to help me through this new adventure. Calm, professional, exuding smarts and common sense, she agreed to read some chapters of my completed book, the contest winner. A few weeks later she offered representation, and when I finished the book Roc had requested, I sent it straight to her. Six days later we had an offer, and was I ever delighted that I had Lucienne in my corner.

On that day, and many days since, I have appreciated her knowledge of the market and the industry, and her support for my writing. Despite my initial, let us call it incoherent exuberance, I was a grown-up, and she has never treated me otherwise, providing the necessary information and context for me to make my own decisions. I love that, and Lucienne!

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Other Installments of How I Met My Client/Agent:

Christie Golden

Amy Christine Parker

This is technically the third installment of How I Met My Client, since these posts were inspired by one of our Knight Agency newsletters where I talked about the story of meeting Lynn Flewelling for the first time and had her share the story from her perspective as well.  Not long ago, Christie Golden kicked off the theme here on my blog.  Today I’m very excited to talk about How I Met My Client Amy Christine Parker and to have her talk about how she met her agent (spoiler alert: me)!

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How I Met My Client Amy Christine Parker

I met Amy when I came out to talk with her writers group and subsequently when I attended a meeting of her critique group out here in Florida (where you may or may not know I work from a home office after spending 15 years in Manhattan). Her critique group shared work, and I was impressed with Amy’s writing, particularly her ability to make an impact with her sentences. She had a natural sense of when to use one word sentences or a one sentence paragraph, a natural way with flow and immediacy that really impressed me. But her first idea wasn’t one that I thought would fly.

As Amy mentions in her blog post below, we kept in touch. One day, as I remember it, I asked what she was working on currently. When she told me, I got goosebumps. The story she laid out was about a girl who’d grown up in a cult. The End Times were coming, according to their prophet, and Lyla can’t bring herself to do some of the things he says must be done, like killing others who would threaten their way of life. And as Lyla starts to discover pieces that don’t fit with what the prophet tells them is true, she has reason to fear for her own survival. If Lyla is wrong about the prophet, she might doom herself and everyone she loves, but if she’s right…

You see, chills. I asked her to send it to me when she finished, already dying to read it.

My e-mail archive doesn’t go back far enough for me to check and be sure, but I believe I began reading the complete on a Wednesday night and that by mid-day Thursday I e-mailed Amy asking whether she wanted to meet Friday for coffee to discuss. See, I was halfway through and already knew I had something special here. I strongly suspected that I would take this on, but I had to finish first, just in case things fell apart at the end. I was so enamored, though, that I knew that even if we hit that worst-case scenario, we could discuss revisions and brainstorm fixes and I’d ask for a revise and resubmit. Well, I’m happy to say that things did not fall apart and I absolutely fell in love with the novel. (Although I did, of course, have some thoughts on how to make it even stronger.)

We met for coffee that Friday and discussed the book, at the time called THE SILO, and by the time the ice was melting in our drinks (latte for me, black tea lemonade for Amy), I had a new client and Amy had an agent.

Next came the revision and the submissions and the waiting, which is always the worst part of the job. However, in this case my enthusiasm for the book was so contagious we received some really quick reads and almost instant interest. One auction later, we’d sold the book and a sequel to Random House Children’s Books, where they came to be called GATED and ASTRAY. Plus, Amy’s got a third suspenseful YA novel, SMASH & GRAB coming July 19th.

I’m so pleased at the way it’s all worked out!

And now, here’s our story from Amy’s perspective:

How I Met My Agent

By Amy Christine Parker

Have you ever met someone and just known that you were meant to meet them? I am a pretty pragmatic person, but the moment I was introduced to Lucienne that’s exactly how I felt. In my gut I knew she would play some part in my writer’s journey. I had no premonition that she would one day be my agent—that seemed like way too much to hope for at the time given where I was in terms of skill—but I did feel like our paths crossing was not accidental.

I was fairly new to writing and was attending a local writers group. All I knew about publishing I had literally Googled. Green doesn’t even begin to describe me! But, I had an overwhelming desire to write and to one day see my work on book shelves. Getting the chance to meet a real live agent—in Florida no less—was a dream come true!

Lucienne had been invited to my writers group by one of the other members. I was so nervous I could barely think straight, but Lucienne was warm and engaging. It was easy to feel comfortable around her. She read some of our work, made comments then shared some of her own writing. I was blown away by what she brought to read and by the advice she gave. That night I left feeling inspired to work harder than ever to hone my craft.

Afterwards, I began following Lucienne on social media and regularly read this blog, commenting when I enjoyed something she said or wrote. Because we live relatively close to each other, she visited my writers group several more times. Gradually, we became friends. What impressed me most was how passionate she is about agenting, her clients, and books. She loves what she does and it shows. The more I got to know her, the more I became convinced that I would be very, very fortunate to have her one day offer me representation.

When it came time to query my first novel, she was at the top of my list. That first novel wasn’t ready for publication and was rejected by every agent I queried including Lucienne, but she took the time to let me know that she thought I had potential. She even offered to look at my next novel when it was ready. Seven months later it was and I queried her first, exclusively. I knew I’d benefit from waiting to query anyone else until she weighed in. Luckily for me, she made an offer! I’ve never said yes to someone so fast in my entire life (not even my husband, but don’t tell him that).

We’ve worked together for about four years now and she’s closed deals for the book she offered on and three more since. I couldn’t be happier. I am keenly aware of how blessed I am to have met her the way I did. Most writers never have the opportunity to get to know their prospective agents so thoroughly before they agree to representation. I am thankful to work with her and to be able to call her my friend.

Just back from rounds of meetings in New York and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America’s annual reception (which was amazing) and so late posting up my new links.  This week I can be found at Magical Words talking about the Role of Agents in the Modern Publishing Landscape and over on the YA Rebels vlog talking about my writing process. Wait, I can embed the vlog right here (she says, fearfully, knowing that the world may not actually be ready for her morning face).  Anyway, if you’d like an overly honest look into my writing process, you can find it right here.

 

I seriously need Joan Jetson’s stylist for just such occasions.

Finally, since this is my blog and I’ll party if I want to, I want to celebrate this fantastic new review of BAD BLOOD from A Simple Love of Reading.  How can you not adore a review that starts out with, “I loved this book”?  So thrilled!

I get the question in interviews all the time, “How do you do it all?”  They’re talking about agenting, authoring, mothering, wifing…okay, I made up that last word.  The real question is, “How would I stop?”  Here are the hard truths:

-Any day I don’t write feels wasted.  It doesn’t matter what else I do that day, if I didn’t make progress on my writing, life feels meaningless.  Seriously.  I can’t not write, for the sake of my own sanity.  It’s not about how hard it is to make time, it’s about how impossible I’d be to live with if I didn’t.

-I’m a Type A personality and an extreme workaholic.  Any day I find myself with extra time I feel like I didn’t plan carefully enough.  I don’t feel relieved that I can take a break, I feel like there’s something I should be doing that I’m not and it stresses me out.  Luckily, I’ve always got as much work as I can handle, sometimes more.

-My husband and son are a) very understanding, b) frequently off at Boy Scouting events, giving me guilt-free time to work and c) creative types themselves.  My son is a huge reader, so often he cuddles up to me and reads when I do, which makes it family time as well as “work.”  My husband is a kick.  He provides inspiration and sometimes even guest blogs about why you should buy his wife’s book.

-I’m a book addict.  I’d be reading non-stop even if I weren’t repping authors and writing myself, so my off-hours really aren’t so different as an agent than they would be as a layperson, except for the critiquing.

I’ve had to learn to take time for myself every once in a while so that I don’t burn out.  This does =not= come naturally to me.  So I do things like get a monthly subscription for massages and pre-schedule appointments, because if I had to call to set them up, I’d never decide I had the time.  I make promises to my husband and son, as in, “I’ll only work up to noon on the weekends and not past nine o’clock on weeknights.”  (Yeah, this is my schedule.)  I plan vacations and getaways, where I step away from my computer.  The latter doesn’t happen often, but when it does…whew!

All in all, as crazed as my life can be, I wouldn’t have it any other way.  (Although I’m still waiting on my version of Batman’s Alfred to bring me espresso drinks and meals when I need them so that I don’t have to pause what I’m doing to feed the body.  Chicken Soup for the Agent’s Soul?)

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If you’d like to support my writing habit (and, as you might guess, I’d totally love that), I hope you’ll check out my Vamped series from Flux or my Latter-Day Olympians series from Samhain.

What I love about my job:

Wednesdays. Why, you ask? Is it that the week is half over or the glass is half full? No, it’s the evening the New York Times bestseller list comes out. It’s like watching to see if you won the Lotto, but with a much better chance of someone you know (or represent) hitting.

Brilliant people. Other agents, authors, editors, bloggers, fans…they’re all BOOK people. I work with some of the most brilliant, creative, out-of-the-box thinkers in the universe. I call that blessed.

Deals. I admit it, I’m a deal junkie. I live for the rush of making a sale and negotiating terms. Yes, I like to haggle. I love a good debate, where both sides present logical and well-reasoned support for their positions and in the end hammer out an agreement.

Travel. I’m seeing the world one convention at a time. In 2011 alone, I’ve been on a writers’ conference cruise to Key West and Cozumel; to Dallas, TX; Yosemite, CA; New York, NY (several times over, of course); Reno, NV; Atlanta, GA; Germany and Greece (though this latter was for vacation). Gorgeous places, great company. It satisfies the travel junkie in me. Yes, you now know my two of my major addictions: deals and travel.

What I don’t love quite so much:

Power reading. Power reading, like power walking, is about the goal and not the journey. I miss the days when I could immerse myself in a book and become one with the characters, my gut churning and pulse-pounding along with them. Now, I have so much to read, all of which needs to be evaluated, that my inner editor keeps me intent on the details and not the ride. Every once in a while I have to stop and smell the fiction to refresh.

The Internet. To be honest, my feelings about the internet are a little love/hate. Complex and chaotic. It’s wonderful for spreading information, putting people in touch, networking, learning and growing. But some people use it to spread misinformation, further an agenda or browbeat others. However, since I did an entire post on cyberbullying last month at the Magical Words blog, I’ll move right along.

The Downers. As agents, we see a lot of rejection. We take on projects we love and work with people we admire. Don’t think we’re not affected by rejections, silences or bad reviews for our clients. We are. We champion these books and authors. We want to win the day, bring back the holy grail every darned time. It doesn’t always work like that.

And…let’s see, I feel like I should have four downs, since I have four ups. But you know what? The good completely outweighs the bad. By a longshot. I love my job. I love most everyone I’ve met and everywhere I’ve been because of it. I love being surrounded by bookshelves I’ve helped stock and being part of a business that meant so much to me growing up and still does. You know those addictions I mentioned? You add reading and family…oh, and caffeine…and my life is complete.