My (New) Literary Agent
Yikes, it’s been a while since I’ve blogged on here! It’s hardly an excuse, but life has been pretty hectic over the last 18 months, what with having released 4 books since the beginning of last year, and my next one coming out in like 8 weeks. So, uh, sorry? *Awkward apologetic face*
I do, however, have news! In amongst all the craziness, I made the tough decision to part ways with my agent of nearly four years. Believe me when I say I basically gave myself a stomach ulcer over it since she was a wonderful agent, but for a number of reasons, I realised that I needed someone else in my corner going forward into the future.
SO! Thus began a stress-inducing time of chatting with a number of other agents, many of whom could be considered “dream agents”… and most of whom offered representation on the spot.
You know, once upon a time, I dreamed of a single agent saying “yes”. I mean, for three years I received rejection after rejection, and even when I got my first publishing offer (for The Medoran Chronicles), I was a “slush pile” baby — I didn’t have an agent at that point, and it wasn’t until 6 months after the first book was released that I was offered representation (thanks to Whisper). So to suddenly have multiple agents raise their hands to rep me, I’m sure you can understand when I say I was overwhelmed to the extreme.
There are three people who I owe HUGE amounts of gratitude to for helping me through that time — Sarah J. Maas, who dealt with my “OMG WHAT DO I DO, SARAH!?!?! AND WHAT WOULD YOU DO?!?!?” emails and texts at all hours of the day and night, especially when I kept back-and-forthing over agent possibilities; Jessica Townsend, who was literally on the first holiday she’s had since publishing Nevermoor, and she was on a beach in Fiji answering my multiple DMs of OMG HELP!! questions and fears; and Sulari Gentill, who helped me with the agent-saga while also offering advice on another publishing-related crisis I was juggling at the same time.
Clearly, it was “fun times” for me. *Eye roll*
But truly, without those three amazing authors having my back and offering advice and encouragement, there’s NO WAY I would have made it through those few weeks with my sanity intact.
SO! To make a long story short(er), I was 99% sold on one agent (to the point that I’d turned down all the others), and I was just about to accept, but then another one asked for a Skype call the next day.
To be honest, it was an unanticipated (even unwanted) curve ball, because I’d contacted a different agent at that agency and — you know what, this’ll be a lot easier to explain if I use names. BUT that means my “short” story will be a tad longer than planned. So here goes:
One of the agents I queried was Kristin Nelson of Nelson Literary Agency. Kristin represents some incredible YA authors, like Marie Lu, Ally Carter, Sherry Thomas, Scott Reintgen, Simone Elkeles… and many others, whose books I love. Plus, she has a great reputation as an agent. When she showed interest in talking further about representing me, of course I was delighted (aside from the hives now covering every inch of me at already having a number of offers on the table).
The thing is… after I quickly drafted up some sample pages, Kristin mentioned that one of the other agents at NLA was showing more passion for my proposed book, and it was that agent, Danielle Burby, who wanted to have a chat over Skype — with Kristin in on the call as well.
By that stage, you have to remember what I said about being 99% sold on another agent, so I truly thought the call was going to be a waste of my time (and theirs). I’d done my research on Kristin, but not on Danielle, and I didn’t know anything about her other than that she was based in NYC. To be honest, I wasn’t even looking forward to the call at all, but my people-pleasing tendencies kept me from just saying “no” to it. Instead, we figured out how to wrangle the time difference (Kristin being in Colorado, Danielle in New York, and me in Australia), and then we had The Call.
I don’t quite know how to describe what happened next other than to say I was devastated.
I was so ridiculously distressed after chatting with Danielle and Kristin, because they stuffed up my plan. I thought I had everything figured out. I thought I was going to waste some time doing the polite thing by chatting with the two of them, then do the whole, “thanks, but no thanks” respectful decline of the offer.
Instead, I was blown away by Danielle’s passion and ambition and drive. And more, this was on a mere sample of a book that I’d only drafted a few pages for — while on a freaking airplane to one of my events. The pages were beyond rough… but I could tell that Danielle believed in the book, and also in what she could do for me and my future as an author.
Even so, I was terrified. The other agent — the 99% one — was almost guaranteed as a sure thing. Her track record showed just how many internationally bestselling authors she represents, not to mention, that she’s made a career out of helping Australian authors become global sensations. That was what I thought I needed.
But… while that 99% agent had all the dot-points of my “dream agent”, there was no passion, no excitement, no “we’re in this together”-ness. Working with that agent would have been a strong business decision… but it wouldn’t have been a partnership.
I can admit it — I’m pretty needy as an author (and as a human being). At times, I need nurturing and hand-holding. This industry is hard, and sometimes I really just need to know that I have someone fighting with me (and for me), someone to cry with and celebrate with. BUT I also need someone who’s not afraid to tell me if I’m overreacting or being dramatic or if I just need to chill the fudge down. When talking with Sarah and Jess, they both told me the single most important thing they have with their respective agents is a relationship. It’s not just about business; their author–agent partnerships go beyond that. (Needless to say, they were both Team Danielle from the get-go, even when I was still vacillating over the decision.)
Obviously, since I’m using names here, I ended up going with Danielle. (Seriously, it should have been obvious to me the moment she sent me a Harry Potter gif to sign off an email. Like, as if there was any doubt after that, haha.)
Ultimately, I went with my gut. And I’m not kidding when I say it was a seriously, seriously hard thing for me to do, since I have terrible trust issues and I knew I was turning down the 99% agent who basically guaranteed she could get me everything I wanted next in my career, and instead I chose the unexpected “risky”-but-passionate agent.
And now? Well, it’s only early days still… but I can honestly say I am so freaking excited for what the future holds. The moment I made my decision and chose Danielle, I felt like a HUGE weight had been lifted from my shoulders, and I just knew that I’d made the right decision. Obviously, we still have a lot to wade through, since I have so much publishing history (and, let’s face it, baggage), but I’m truly delighted with my decision and how things have been shaping up between us so far. I really, truly, can’t wait to see what happens next, especially since I’ve just finished drafting that new book I mentioned, and, once it’s cleaned up a bit, we’ll begin submissions for it. I guess that’s when the real test begins, but I also know that no matter what happens, we’re in this together — and that’s what I’m most excited about.
***INSERT ALL THE HAPPY DANCING HERE***
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