By Kim Stagliano
I love my agent story. I write about it in my BOOK and I’m happy to share how I tackled the dreaded querying process. I gave it an end run by meeting agents in person. It’s not as hard as you think! And it does NOT involve stalking. I began writing as a cheap and non-alcoholic form of therapy when my husband lost his job in 2003. This story just worked its way into my brain and wouldn’t leave. It was my first stab at fiction beyond writing my own excuse notes to teachers in high school. I’m a big fan of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum books. (‘Fess up, Ranger or Morelli? I’ll let you guess my choice.) I asked myself, “What would happen if Steph Plum was saddled with her niece and nephew with autism and had to care for them?”
Madness ensued, to use an old chestnut.
When I typed, “THE END” I was shocked. “Er, I think I just wrote a book.” No. I had not. What I had done was written a first draft of a manuscript. I started to read agent blogs. I stumbled across the Holy Grail of “trial by kitchen fire, get your hands off my George Clooney and WHERE IS MY GIN” blogs – Miss Snark. (Pause for a moment of silence please.) Miss Snark was an agent who, under his or her pseudonym, gave writers and authors alike a safe, freewheeling place to learn, make mistakes, embarrass ourselves and prostrate ourselves before the agent gods as well. I prepared to query. UGH.
Like a lot of newbies, I learned the hot names – and set my sights on the hottest agents at the time. Some of them sent rejections really, really fast. I had a book of rejections. “Not for me. I wish you the best. Dear Kim, Dear Kim, Dear Loser who will never be published,” (I made that one up, but that’ s how rejections felt.)
Jenny Gardiner and I became good friends, and she introduced me to Backspace. Backspace was hosting an amazing Author Agent Seminar, at the famed Algonquin Hotel. Mark and I were flat broke, I had three young girls with autism, and was living in CT. Ah ha! That meant I was a commuter rail away from New York City. Mark gave me the money to attend the conference. And off I went.
The day before, my very first Huffington Post piece was published. I printed it out and “clung to it like Charlie Bucket with a golden ticket.” At Backspace I saw my idolized agents in action! And guess what? The ones I was desperate to work with did not capture me at all in person. I realized that a personality fit is as important as “the name.” One agent did catch my eye, Eric Myers. I walked up to him during the intro session and blurted out my pitch, holding up my HuffPo with anticipation. He asked for chapters! From there we did the revise revise revise dance and I got the call a few months later. THE CALL!
Eric has been the ideal fit for me. My lesson to you? Take your time. Find the right personality and career fit and get yourself to any event where you can meet an agent in person. It’s well worth the time and money. Good luck to any of you who are querying now.