Monday, November 18, 2019

My agent journey

source: Giphy


As John Cleese of Monty Python used to say, "And now for something completely different..."



I have an agent.


Bear with me while I repeat that. I have an agent! How did this happen after all these years of writing?

Starting with my second novel, written in 2010/2011, I've queried a few agents at a time. Perhaps 25 total for that second novel, and around 35 for my third novel, written in 2012/2013. Despite a few encouraging rejections, the reaction was mostly silence. I know, I know, you're supposed to query at least one hundred agents, but I felt in my heart if 25 or 30 rejected me, there had to be a reason!

So I stopped even trying to query agents with my fourth (admittedly wretched) novel.

My fifth novel (i.e. my current one), a middle grade novel in verse, felt different to me when I first starting writing it in late 2015. And not only because it's a novel in verse, a form I feel I'm meant to write. The story fell into place in a way that hadn't happened to me before. For the first time, I didn't get stuck in the middle. I'm a pantser, but the plot spontaneously appeared as I was writing. (Note: I don't recommend writing this way. I'd much prefer to be a plotter!)

In 2016, I attended a Highlights Foundation Workshop on Novels in Verse. With the inspiring leadership of authors Kathryn Erskine and Alma Fullerton, I managed to write a new draft that seemed to work.

A second Highlights workshop, in 2017, with the same mentors, but mostly different attendees, helped me bring my novel in verse up to a higher level with, by then, the fourth or fifth draft. Only three of us, Barbara Krasner, Leah Rosti, and I, attended both workshops. Filled with inspiration again, I continued to revise.

Then, that September, I got sick.

Most of you know my survivor story by now. If not, suffice it to say I lost more than a year of my life due to a ruptured brain aneurysm (my second!) and a Grade 4 bleed.

Writing, and even reading, went by the wayside.

After recuperating, I went back to my novel in verse and revised it yet again. I had feedback from some writer friends and even some friends who are not writers! Then I learned that Barbara Krasner, my fellow workshop attendee and the author of several published books, had become a literary agent with Olswanger Literary. Leah Rosti had signed with her, so I decided to submit my novel in verse to Barbara, not really expecting much of a reaction.

She loved it!

But she gave me eight suggestions for revising it (again), most of which were small changes. When I completed this newest revision, I sent it to her...

and kept my fingers crossed. A few weeks later, she offered representation!


Yes, I'm still pinching myself.





41 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for sharing your journey and congratulations! You are a shining example of never give up. All my best for your continued success and I look forward to reading your book.

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    1. Thanks, Greg! Much appreciated. Persistence is my middle name! Ha! (Not really, but it should be. I've been writing children's books for an embarrassingly long time.) But let's not get ahead of ourselves. I'm enjoying just knowing I have an agent. If I'm lucky, a book deal will be an entirely different experience.

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  2. Congratulations! (Both for the persistence and energy it takes to revise and revise, and for the agent news.)

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    1. Thanks, Ben! Haven't heard from you in forever. I actually love revising.

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  3. A huge congrats, Joanne! I’m so excited for you, especially with all the health challenges you faced too. And you never gave up on your writing.

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    1. Thanks, Natalie! Well, I couldn't write for at least a year, but when I got back into it, all I did was revise, until very recently. Revising is still writing, though.

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  4. WOW! I am thrilled for you Joanne. You never gave up even with health issues. I'm in awe and you've given me some encouragement. I am so excited for you and I love novels in verse. Best of luck revising!

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    1. Thanks, Patricia! Glad I've given you some encouragement. It'll happen for you too, I'm sure.

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  5. Oh, congratulations!!!!! I am super happy for you :)

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  6. You deserve success, Joanne. Congratulations. Can't wait to see your books out there! :)

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  7. This is fantastic news, Joanne! I’m thrilled for you and for that lovely book in verse! (This is Dianne. My phone is being weird and showing me as a blank avatar. )

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    1. Thanks, Dianne! And it's not blank now.

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    2. And I neglected to mention, Dianne, that you were one of my early readers. Thank you so much!

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  8. I remember sitting at Panera with you, hearing about this novel-in-verse!!! I couldn't be happier for you, friend! Congratulations, with all of my heart.

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    1. Thanks, Jessica! I always enjoyed those get-togethers. Miss you!

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    2. Those get-togethers made a big move across the country much easier and made me realize that when you love books and writing, there are friends everywhere. Love to you!

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  9. I'm so excited for you! Congratulations! You earned this!

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  10. Joanne, I'm absolutely THRILLED for you! *raises glass* Congratulations! May the great news continue! xoxo

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  11. That is wonderful, Joanne. I wish you every success in your partnership with Barbara.

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  12. Congratulations! This is awesome news, so happy for you!! Looking forward to reading your novel one day!

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  13. I'm going to congratulate you, again, because this is momentous news, Joanne!! Thrilled for you.

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  14. You had me at “Highlights Foundation” with this post from your heart.

    Every mentor/ author/writer name you reference brings a glow to my heart.

    Go, go, go! To Barbara! I appreciate having enjoyed chatting with her there & reading her collected poems from Finishing Line Press.

    Yay! to Leah, Alma & Kathryn.
    So many hugs to all these talents & perserving Y O U!

    🌞


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    1. Dear, sweet Jan! You are the most delightful cheering squad and I appreciate you and your enthusiasm SO MUCH! Best of luck with your own novel in verse.

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  15. Congratulations to you! I've been to many workshops with Barbara. She is terrific. How lucky you met her at Highlights. You have had quite a journey both personally and professionally. You deserve this.

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    1. Thanks, Rosi! She's a gem. I remember that you've had the pleasure of meeting her.

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  16. That's so wonderful! I'm glad both that your book is coming together and that you have an agent now! I'm excited to see what comes next!

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  17. Congratulations! I'm so looking forward to seeing this book come out: you have a way with words and I can totally see you writing an amazing novel in verse! So exciting!

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    1. Thanks for the vote of confidence, Kim. Fingers crossed!

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  18. How wonderful! I'm so happy for you! And how wonderful to have not just an agent, but an agent you have worked with before and like. I'm looking forward to reading this novel in verse when it gets published. (And it sounds like it will.)

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