How I Got my Agent
Back in the day I used to eat these posts up. I loved them. Loved them. I was always going to write my own. Then I kind of … didn’t.
And apparently now I’m going to. Half because the Electric Eighteens are doing it and I want to play with the other kids on the playground, and half because my other option is to finish a cognitive assessment report, and that’s just way less fun.
I guess the best place to start this (saga?) is late 2014. I was twenty-one, and I’d recently finished the first manuscript I felt was worth publishing (which meant, of course, it was nowhere near worth publishing, but try telling me that at the time). I’d been writing since I was eleven, so it wasn’t exactly a surprise to my friends when I said I was going to try to get published. But people weren’t exactly jumping up and down with excitement, as a general rule. One conversation in particular went something like this:
Me: I’m going to get published.
My roommate: Isn’t that, like, really hard?
Me: Yup. First step is to get an agent.
My roommate: Okay. But don’t be upset if it doesn’t happen.
Me: What do you mean if it doesn’t happen? Of course it’ll happen.
My roommate: Statistically, probably not.
Me: /plugs ears and writes author acknowledgements page
My roommate: Like, good luck. But lots of talented people want to get published.
Me: /Fills ears with cement and compiles agent list
My roommate: And even if you got an agent, the chances following that are-
Me: /Melts into the wall to avoid listening
And for that first book… nope. I did not get an agent. And it sucked. But it didn’t suck so much because I was getting rejections (even though my first rejection made me cry for a Whole. Day.). It sucked because it meant maybe my roommate was right. Maybe I would be one of the statistics. And that was a hell of a blow to the ego. I mean, for all of us, we’re the main character of our own stories. We expect to defy odds. And then if we don’t, we have to re-evaluate the way we view ourselves. As a kid, I always just assumed I would be an honest-to-god author one day. How could it just… not happen?
2015 I took a gap year. I worked at a supermarket scanning groceries and dancing around the aisles wearing mascot outfits.
(Pictured: Me. Dancing around the aisles wearing mascot outfits). The aim of the year was mostly to save money to go on to do my postgrad, but the wonderful side effect was that all my previous study time became writing time. By that, I mean I wrote a 90,000 word manuscript in 56 days. When I wasn’t a giant red hand, I was pumping out a story that was some level of less-terrible than the last one I’d queried.
Every aspect of writing that story was just fun. It was a feel-good romantic comedy with over-the-top drama at the end. Not even close to conventional, but the kind of thing I would’ve read if I could, growing up. Which is, I guess, why most of us write Young Adult to begin with, right?
I entered this manuscript in a few different competitions, including Query Kombat and The Writer’s Voice, both of which I got into at similar times (around May 2015).
One night (Wednesday, 27 May 2015, to be precise) I was supposed to go to a college party. I remember getting ready to go out, messaging my friends to meet me, then deciding not to go. I just got an overwhelming urge to stay at home. So I got out of my dress, into PJs, and onto Twitter.
Then I realised #KidPit was just about to start (timezones. Go figure). I panicked and enlisted a bunch of friends over Twitter to quickly cobble some pitches together and jumped into the fray.
One of the ‘favourites’ I got was from Moe Ferrara. So I sent along an excerpt and query and synopsis (ew. Gross gross gross). Thursday 4th June 2015 she wrote back requesting the full (and we had a bit of a back-and-forth about how we, and Alexa Donne (who I met through The Writer’s Voice!) had written fanfiction on Mugglenet at around the same time as each other (I was eleven so my fanfiction wasn’t very good, but I digress)).
Then, on Thursday 11th June 2015, she emailed me asking to talk over Skype. BUT NOT UNTIL THE WEEKEND. WHICH, I MIGHT ADD, IS THE KIND OF TORTURE THAT SHOULD BE ILLEGAL.
Me: Oh my god oh my god oh my
My roommate: It might not be an offer call. She might just want to chat about rewrites.
Me: … I’m going for a nervous walk
Me: /walks for three days, gets lost in Australian outback
Then Moe wrote that she was ‘insanely looking forward to speaking with me’ and it was just like setting up a first date. Adorbs.
Meanwhile, I spent Saturday day continuing to wander around the Australian outback because I had way too much nervous energy. The main thing I remember about that day is listening to “No Control” by One Direction on repeat because Louis Tomlinson was just my favourite.
Incidentally, that song now reminds me of nervous walking.
Anyway, when 1am FINALLY came around, I got all dressed up and brushed my teeth and went on Skype for my date. And, thankfully, the first thing Moe said was “This is an offer call”, so we could scream for a while at the beginning before the really awesome hour of her gushing about my manuscript and me gushing over a near-stranger with an American accent talking about my characters like they were real.
Speaking of, my favourite thing about Moe continues to be our ungodly-hour phone calls (usually 6am my time, joy) where she talks to me about my characters like they’re mutual friends of ours that we’re both weirdly interested in. But I wouldn’t have an agent relationship any other way.
Side note: In my acceptance email to Moe, I wrote the following line: “My friends, who have never met you, are all firmly team Moe”. Anyone who’s familiar with Moe will probably recognise the term Team Moe (also, I’ve noticed it being altered a little for use around BookEnds in general, lately!!).
^^ See. It’s a thing. Although I’m not entirely sure how a picture of me kissing my pet rat ended up being my representation on the BookEnds website. I might have to get some more professional photos done…
Well, anyway, point is that’s how the phrase “Team Moe” came about.
I am a genius.
(Pictured: Me. A genius. You can tell because of the Pikachu glasses)
And I guess that’s mostly it. Following that, I went out and celebrated a bit.
And everything was great.
Until I went on submission.