Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Introducing my new agent, Sara Crowe & How to Find a Literary Agent

Once I finished writing and revising my young adult novel set in Maine, the next step to publication was finding a literary agent. I'm overjoyed to announce that I have signed with my first choice agent,
Sara Crowe!

If you're looking for a literary agent, take heart from my story. Miracles can happen in the slush pile. Sara requested a full manuscript four minutes after receiving my query (a one page pitch with sample pages). However, my query received as many rejections as requests for more pages. My biggest category was unanswered queries.

Once I received my first offer, I nudged all agents with manuscripts to finish and withdrew unanswered queries. Partials were bumped up to fulls. Sara read over the weekend, making a counter offer on Sunday night, more than a week before my deadline.

Still, there were more passes than offers. This is such a subjective business. Finding an agent takes persistence as much as talent. All you need is one yes...or two, since the agent needs to find a publisher. There are no guarantees, but I now have a good shot with Sara Crowe as my agent.

I know. Sara is representing Sarah. At least our names are spelled differently, but I do feel a bit like I'm talking to myself. Sara reminds me of my college friends: smart, articulate, and down to earth. Like me, she works best when she's busy. We clicked during our FaceTime chat, when she made her official offer of representation and presented her vision for placing my work with a publisher. My manuscript needs only minor revision, and her feedback resonated with me. Soon she'll be sending me editorial notes, and I'll get back to work on revisions while she draws up a submission list.

Sara Crowe's logo
I'm walking around with a goofy grin on my face. Sara has an outstanding record in YA sales and an excellent reputation in the industry. Her amazing client list includes Nina LaCour, Leila Howland, Megan Frazer Blakemore, and many other talented authors. Her clients love her. Although my novel hasn't yet sold to a publisher, I'm celebrating this first step. YA author Maria Padian came over with a bottle of Prosecco to drink on my deck. My writing crit partner, author/illustrator Charlotte Agell, painted the gorgeous card (top image) of us enjoying a Swedish toast at Simpson's Point.

After signing the contract yesterday, I raised a glass to Sara with my family. My British husband and our daughter had left for England to visit relatives the day before I got my first offer and returned after I had accepted Sara's counter offer. Thanks to everyone for all your support during this stressful but joyful time, and good luck to those of you who are still querying. Below are some tips and useful links for other writers looking agents.

How to Find a Literary Agent:

The acknowledgement page at the end of books similar to yours is the best place to find agent names. Before querying an agent, I usually read a client book to check for fit and then tailored the market comparison paragraph of my pitch. The best matches were agents like Sara who represented several authors whom I'd already read and enjoyed. My nine years of book blogging were helpful for understanding my genre and for refining my craft too. Do not query until you have a complete manuscript and a synopsis (for fiction). Spend time polishing the query letter. Remember: I had only four minutes to pitch my book. Follow submission guidelines on the agent's website carefully and spell his/her/their name right.

It's worth trying for superstars like Sara Crowe, but you should also query agents who are actively building a list of clients. Of the young, new YA agents, I was most impressed by Leon Husock at L. Perkins. No agent uses twitter better than Leon with his helpful query tips, witty observations, interesting retweets, and a client twitter list to facilitate book promotions. He aims to reply to all queries in 24 hours. Also look for experienced agents who have recently changed agencies like Eric Myers at Dystel & Goderich. Eric's stellar list includes one of my favorite YA authors, Seth Rudetsky, and NYT bestseller MG author Chris Grabenstein. Like his authors, Eric has a great sense of humor. Search for the best match to your writing and your personality; agents aren't one size fits all.

Twitter is the social media platform for the publishing industry. Consider joining for agent pitch events. Beth Phelan of the Bent Agency organized the first #DVPit to help diverse authors find representation. Twitter is also the best place to check out potential agents and to network with other writers. You can find my tweets here. I'm always happy to connect with other writers and readers. Good luck!

Agent Info links:

Query Tracker
Manuscript Wish List
Writers Digest New Agent Alerts & Profiles
Association of Authors Representatives (AAR)
Agent Query
Publisher Weekly free e-newsletters
Poets & Writers magazine
Predators & Editors
Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators
Literary Rambles Children's Agents Profiles
Purple Crayon: Finding & Choosing Literary Agents
Publishers Marketplace (monthly subscription fee but some agent profiles are public)
Janet Reid, Lit Agent: Between Offer & Acceptance, a checklist
My YA Agents List on twitter

Update: Jane Friedman's Guide to Query Letters

New Harbor, Bristol, Maine: one of the inspirations for my fictional Port George. It's an hour up the coast from my home.


Stacy said...

Congratulations, Sarah! Well deserved!

troutbirder said...

Wonderful news. Your on your way, Sarah...:)

Amanda Summer said...

Congratulations Sarah - fantastic news! I am so looking forward to reading your novel!

Charlotte Agell said...

This is just the beginning of a wonderful voyage! Hurrah!

Rose said...

Congratulations, Sarah! Looking forward to seeing--and reading--your novel in print soon!

kacky said...


Pamela Terry and Edward said...

This make me so happy! Well done you.
I do plan to reference it, as I'm nearly at that stage myself.

A Cuban In London said...

Congratulations! :-) You have worked so hard and it's finally paid off. I'm so happy for you. I am also taking some of your advice! :-)

Greetings from London.

Donna said...

Congratulations Sarah! I'm so happy for you! I'm very much looking forward to reading your book when it gets published (when, not if!). And thank you for the tips about finding an agent. I'll be able to to share this post with the writers who I copyedit for. It will be a good resource for them.

Sarah Laurence said...

Thanks, everyone! You all know how long I've been working towards this so it's a pleasure to celebrate this joyous news with you.

Amanda, Rose and Donna, I'm so happy to hear that I have eager readers waiting. I do hope to have a book to share with you in the next couple of years. I shall keep you updated.

Charlotte, thanks for all your helpful manuscript feedback and support!

Pamela and A Cuban in London, good luck with your search!

Barrie said...

I can't say it enough...CONGRATULATIONS!!!

thecuecard said...

Congrats Sarah, that's wonderful news! Wow. Also thanks for your tips & advice about literary agents.

Sarah Laurence said...

Barrie, and I can't say thank you enough. Your feedback on the manuscript and query tips were so helpful. Plus your cheering kept me going.

Cue, thanks! I'm glad to hear that my tips will help others.

Petra Pavlátková said...

Congratulations on finding the agent you're happy about, Sarah!

Sandra Warren said...

Congratulations Sarah and thank you for sharing your process. Great information!

ACSutliff said...

Congratulations Sarah! I appreciate you sharing the hows of your success as well! I will be following your blog so I can look up the book when it's ready!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks for sharing this on LinkedIn. I rarely find a blog (there) that I read through like I just did yours. It was quite helpful and as I draw closer to time to query, I plan to reread it again. Congratulations, Sarah and best wishes!

Sarah Laurence said...

Petra, thanks!

Sandra, AC, and Carol, welcome to my blog and thank you! I'm pleased to hear that my tips are useful. I wish you the best of luck with your queries. It's a pleasure connecting with other writers. I do hope to have a book to share with you, AC. Your enthusiasm helps as a gird myself for the next round, publisher submissions. First, though comes more revision.

Janet Heller said...

Congratulations on finding an agent! I hope that you sell a book manuscript soon! Best wishes for the summer?

Janet Ruth Heller, author of the award-winning fiction picture book about bullying How the Moon Regained Her Shape (Arbordale, 2006; 3rd edition 2012) and the middle-grade historical fiction chapter book The Passover Surprise (Fictive Press, 2015)

Sarah Laurence said...

Thanks, Janet, and welcome to my blog! It's nice to connect with another SCBWI member. Yes, I'll be doing revision this summer when I receive notes from my agent. I'm not sure of the submission timing, late summer or possibly fall.

Leslie S. Rose said...

I've just discovered your blog *waves hello* I love Seth Rudesky's books and was tickled to find them mentioned. Thank you for an inspiring post. Most of all congratulations on connecting with an agent. All the best in your work.

Sarah Laurence said...

Hi Leslie, and welcome to my blog! I'm happy to connect with another Seth Rudesky fan, and I'm pleased to hear that my story was inspiring. I'm currently working on a second round of manuscript revisions. Sara has a keen editorial eye, and my writing is improving thanks to her excellent feedback. I won't be back to regular blogging for a few more weeks.

Note that Sara recently moved agencies to Pippin Properties Inc, a top notch NYC agency that specializes in Kid Lit and YA. I wish you the best of luck in the querying process!