1. What was your agent-hunting experience like?
Let me check my file. (You all DO keep a file, right? The IRS considers a file of rejections to be proof your writing is a career and not a hobby. Casual writers don’t get rejections!)
All told, we submitted to agents nine times before receiving an offer of representation. I say “we” because my mother, Sherrie Ashcraft, and I were pitching our joint projects and were a package deal.
We first submitted to Natasha Kern in 2002, garnering our first agent rejection. Our last rejection came from Steve Laube on August 3, 2006—the very day the Van Diests asked for our full manuscript!
2. Every writer dreams of getting The Call. How and when did you get your Call?
It’s a little hard to remember exactly how that call played out because I’ve been with the Van Diest Agency for three years, which is a testament to their belief in my writing. I often hear stories of agents and authors parting ways when a sale has not occurred within the first year.
Let me jump in my time machine and go back … back … back to 2006 … I’m pretty sure we wore leg warmers and had huge bangs with side ponytails then, right?
My mother and I pitched a book called On the Threshold to Sarah & David Van Diest at the Oregon Christian Writer's Summer Conference. They told us to run through the entire plot, then asked to keep the proposal. Unusual, but definitely a good sign.
The next day, just as Randy Ingermanson was promoting his workshop from the podium ["What do we want to do? Create a Powerful, Emotional Experience in our reader." Yes, we want PEE], Sarah Van Diest poked her head between our shoulders and said, “That’s what you did for me.” Despite knowing the plot, she had cried in the first chapter of the book.
The Van Diests requested the full manuscript shortly thereafter and offered a contract within six days, which was before several other interested agents could even reply.
I read their email at about 2 AM. The adrenaline rush hit so hard and stayed so long, I only got about an hour of sleep. I remember lying in bed with my eyes refusing to close and my body literally humming.
3. What tips do you have for writers searching for representation?
- Follow agent blogs. It amazes me how much Chip MacGregor, Wendy Lawton, and Rachelle Gardner (among others) share about the business on their blogs.
- Attend conferences. If you don’t meet with potential agents, how will you know if you “click” or not?
- Hire a professional editor. Getting an agent is almost as hard as finding a publisher these days. If spending some money now takes your craft to the next level and garners the attention of an agent, isn’t that money well spent? Consider it getting a jump-start on your publishing career.
- Accept feedback. If you are fortunate enough to get ANY feedback in a rejection from an agent, thank the Lord and pay attention to what he or she has said.
Summary (Jody here): It's interesting to note that Christina and her mom looked for an agent for approximately four years. Four years is a LONG time!
While we're waiting on agents, it's often hard to know what's causing the hold up. Sometimes it's the nature of the game; there are so many factors outside our control (poor economy, busy agents, tall slush piles, etc.). However, sometimes our stories just aren't ready; agents are rejecting our work because we need to improve our writing skills.
If only we knew what was REALLY going on with those manuscripts we've sent out, then we'd have clearer direction on how to proceed. Have you ever been frustrated by the agent-hunt delays? If you're waiting for agent responses, do you have any guesses on what is causing the hold up?
Thanks to Christina Berry for sharing her agent story! Here's a little more about her debut novel.The Familiar Stranger: Craig Littleton has decided to end his marriage with his wife, Denise, but an accident lands him in the ICU with fuzzy memories. As Denise helps him remember who he is, she uncovers dark secrets. Will this trauma create a fresh start? Or has his deceit destroyed the life they built together?
If you would like to learn more about Christina visit her here: