How I Got My Agent(s)... And Didn't.


The publishing process can be a brutal one. I know for me, when I first started writing, I thought I would be the exception. I thought I was special. I thought I would write a book, I would query, I would get an agent, I would get a six-figure-deal and I would really be somebody in the publishing world! 


Oh, how blind I was. 


It took me three books until I got my first agent. Querying those first two books was HARD. I watched all my best friends get “Big 6” deals while I was still in the trenches. Though I did have a lot of success querying. With my first book, I got 28 full requests, but they all ended in rejection. My query and first pages were strong, the book just wasn’t ready. I also had a lot of close calls with my second book, but it failed again. Anyone who has written a book, queried, and faced rejection, knows what a toll this takes on not only your self worth, but in your belief of whether or not you’re cut out for this business. I cried. A lot. (A lot). But I decided to try again. I wrote a third book.


This time, I had more success. I quickly got requests, and I ended up getting SEVEN offers of representation for this book. I thought for sure this was the one! If SO many agents were interested in this book, then for sure I would finally live my dream of getting a Big 6 deal! (It was still Big 6 at the time) 


But submission didn’t go well. We had a lot of wonderful rejections. Kind words, but ultimately, everyone passed. I was heartbroken. In the end, my agent and I decided to part ways. (I still love her DEARLY, and we are still wonderful friends!) 


And so I queried again. 


This time, querying wasn’t as bad. I got an agent pretty quickly, and I signed with a more editorial agent. We worked hard on the manuscript and we sent it out on submission. The book got some great response, and it even went to acquisitions! I was SURE this was it. An editor wanted my book. She brought it to “the table.” She fought for it. It was going to get picked up… but it didn’t. It fell through. And ultimately, because of certain reasons, I decided it was time to move on. Heartbroken, I left that agent too. 


Querying is hard. I was at a low point. I’d had TWO agents. I had left them both. I felt like a failure. I couldn’t write anymore. I slipped into a deep depression. Sometimes, hope would filter in and I would try and write, but the depression would press down heavy again and I’d be paralyzed once more. I went a long time without writing. A LONG time. I went through a period of severe darkness where I doubted everything about myself. My ability. My capacity. My worth. Who I was. It took a long time to pull out of it, but I did. 


I don’t know how, but I decided to try again. 


I wrote another book, and I queried it. 


It went somewhat well. I got a ton of requests, but I wasn’t getting any offers. I was starting to panic. I’d already had two agents. Was I never going to get another one? Did I not have what it took anymore? Was my dream of being published going to die?! Had I already had my shot? 


So I decided to do something I’d never done before. I subbed to small press. And things took off. I immediately got three publishing offers right off the bat. But I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go down that route. It was a big step. And it was a turn in a new direction. Was it the right one? Was it the wrong one? Would it ruin my chances at a Big 5 deal in the future? Did agents look down on it? Would it help me build an audience? Give me more opportunity? So many questions swirled around in my head. 


Because of the darkness I had just pulled myself out of, and because I wanted to keep progressing forward and not fall into old patterns, I decided to take the leap. I signed a deal with my first small press. And I’m so glad I did. 


While working on edits for that book, I decided to write another book. My dream of being pubbed with a Big 5 hadn’t died. So I decided to query AGAIN. (Yes, we writers are crazy!) This time, the book did very well. To my relief, agents didn’t seem deterred that I had a small press deal. I ended up getting 3 offers of representation for this manuscript. 


The book went on submission to big editors and started out well… but Covid hit. 


Everything went south. 


The publishing world stopped. But despite this, my book still went to acquisitions FOUR times. One Random House editor wanted it desperately. But it fell through. It killed me. It broke my heart. The book got SO CLOSE to signing with my dream publishers it still hurts. I was so close to my dream. After all this time, after three agents, after working hard for so long, I had still failed. I still hadn’t lived my dream. Why was I so close SO many times and I couldn’t cinch the deal? Why did I have to be so tortured for so long?  


During this, I debuted. (During 2020 no less!) My book, The Redpoint Crux did well. It got great response and I’m proud of it. It’s not a NYT Bestseller, but it’s my book, and it has worth. Meanwhile, I decided to sub another one of my books to another couple small presses. I got two more offers. I ended up signing a three-book-deal with Aethon Books. This trilogy will be released soon. I’m grateful for these opportunities, I’m grateful for each chance to grow, but I haven’t lived my ultimate dream yet. 


Sadly, through this difficult year with Covid, this past month, I parted ways with my latest agent. I’m heartbroken. I love her so much. We parted amicably. It was the right thing. But I’ve found myself, yet again, starting from scratch. After EVERYTHING. I’m fighting feelings of failure. I’m fighting the darkness. I’ve started querying again. I’m having success. I’m getting requests. But I’m still so scared. Will I ever live my dream? Will I ever find an agent that I can be with forever? I want security. I want to be set on a secure path and stop having so many twists and turns and ups and downs. It’s all so difficult. 


But isn’t this what it’s all about? 


I know it’s not about the destination. It isn’t about the end result. It’s about what we learn on the journey. It’s about who we BECOME on the journey. I’m a completely different person than who I was when I started ten years ago. I’m grateful for each rejection, each moment of sadness, and each moment of success, because it’s morphed me into who I am. Even though I’m sad, and even though it can be so rough, I’m still so hopeful for the future. As I’m querying yet again, and am continuing to embark on this journey, I will NEVER lose hope that I can someday live my ultimate dream—and maybe, perhaps, I am living the ultimate dream. Which is getting to experience this journey at all.