Book, Writing

The one where I find an agent

I just remembered a post I wrote almost exactly a year ago – back then, I had been talking (or rather trying to talk) to a few literary agents, with very little success.  I had vowed not to give up but instead to deal with rejection in small doses and to dedicate Friday mornings to the agent hunt. A very good resolution, if I may say so, but unfortunately an unfulfilled one. I didn’t necessarily give up. No, I spent another year polishing the manuscript, attempting to make it the best manuscript I could. I didn’t stick to the Friday morning plan, but at least avoided any further rejection.

Out of ten agents I had initially approached, three never answered. Four were straight NO’s with answers like ‘not for us’ or ‘our client list is full’. Two seemed initially interested but not interested enough. And my lucky number ten just said ‘I like it very much’.

I know that nine NO’s aren’t many in a world where agents receive hundreds of manuscripts a week. But it was enough to make me feel a little disheartened and send me back into the comfort zone of editing and re-writing.

Looking for an agent is difficult. Much more difficult than I had thought it would be. The whole process is painstakingly structured, with strict guidelines for submissions, rules about writing a synopsis and rules about putting together a query letter. And while you are trying to stick to the bloody rules, you mustn’t forget that the whole thing needs to be personal and unique. But by no means go to such lengths as camping outside an agent’s home for a week, in order to discover that unique, personal angle. That might freak them out. See. You just can’t win.

In the end, I followed neither rules nor resolutions.* I just happened to be in the right place at the right time, chatting to a well-known journalist about the pains of looking for an agent. She recommended her own agent, whom she praised as fabulous, wrote down his email and phone number and we parted. I didn’t think much about it, jotted down a few lines and hit send. The following day I received a call. I met Adrian a week later, decided that I liked him and that it would be terrific to work with him. Apparently, this understanding was mutual, as we signed a contract another week later.

No rules, no resolutions. It wasn’t even a Friday morning.

*I also never camped outside one’s house, in case you were wondering.


  1. So so pleased for you. And in about six months time I might be asking you for his number 🙂

  2. Fantastic news! I’m chuffed for you and I’m sure one day will say that I knew Metropolitan Mom when… x

  3. So exciting that you got yourself an agent. Well done for sticking with it in your own time and own way. Good luck with the next steps.

  4. Big M says

    I think you forgot to mention that the traditional publishing and book industry is in the process of imploding due to the seismic changes (ebooks, book stores going under, etc) in the industry. Finding an agent and publisher is therefore harder and more frustrating than it has ever been!

    Well done MM, very proud of you!

  5. Wunderbar!! Wonderful you have found a nice agent. Fingers crossed

  6. David Haas says

    I have a question about your blog, do you think you could email me?

  7. Congratulations! That must be a wonderful feeling – I’m looking forward to reading it! x

  8. I’m so excited for you!!!!! I am writing a YA and hope I’m as lucky as you. Your hard work has paid off! Can’t wait to read it 🙂

  9. Congrats-currently moving to a new agent after being with mine since my MA aged 21-hope this is the start of a great and fruitful relationship.

  10. I couldn’t be happier for you! and he sounds perfect too- hooray xxx

  11. Well done. It’s a long road isn’t it? If you’re at BritMums, come to the publishing session on the Friday evening and share your experience. Or learn more tips…

  12. Huge congratulations. So deserved. I love how you decide you are doing something and go and get it. If only I was the same! Still sat on my 40,000 words, 4 rejection letters (I probably received last year now)! Feel envious but also extremely happy for you! Well done. Whoop whoop! etc.
    Can’t wait to read it! xxx

  13. Pingback: BritMums live 2012 – Finding an agent and getting published | Metropolitan Mum

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  15. When’s the book coming out then MM? Sounds hugely exciting. I can’t wait to read it!

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