So this one time a writer finished a book she thought was just dripping of awesomeness and, because she figured those silly old rules about letting the story sit and the very real need for multiple revisions and advice about maybe hiring an editor all applied to Writers Less Incredible Than She, the first set of top agents had said writer’s query in their inbox faster than you can say “Rookie Mistake.” Oh, and the one agent — named Michele Martin from MDM Management — that she was referred to by a pretty friend never actually got a query, but instead got a simple email stating that Tiffany Romero had referred her.

Of course, she got turned down. By all five of the agents she had queried and had assumed were going to make her the next Exception to the Rule. BASTARDS! Didn’t they know WHAT KIND OF TALENT THEY WERE DEALING WITH?


The writer shook off the rejection (it MUST have been a glitch in How The Universe Operates, after all) and started researching the next five agents or so. And lo and behold, there was an email from the agent she had emailed on Tiffany’s referral. The agent wanted to talk.

On. The. Phone.

With me. (I mean…oh screw it. It’s hard writing about myself in third person without falling into a fit of girly giggles, so I’ll stop.) So yeah….the agents wanted to talk with me! Maybe she was going to sign me! Maybe I was the exception to the rule. Maybe…

Maybe I needed to keep querying and slow down and practice not squealing while speaking with Michele the following day. Of course, there was no contract to sign after our conversation. There were suggestions to tighten the manuscript and how to make things work better and where I needed more and why this area needed much less and Just Cut That Part, Okay? So I sent out another few batches of query letters and tightened my work.

After the next batch of rejections, I figured my query sucked and wasn’t getting past round 1 at the agencies they were going to, so I took a query workshop and came out on the other end with a query that sucked so little it was positively pretty.

So I sent that bad boy out to even more agents while I worked on making the manuscript Not Suck with Michele (turns out what I thought was literary gold was no more than first draft dribbles..who knew?). All told, she probably worked with me for three months before gently bursting my Bubble of Happiness by telling me that I had talent but the manuscript just wasn’t ready. She suggested an editor and invited me to resubmit after I had revised. A Lot.

I told her to bite me (in my head) and thanked her for her time (in an email).

That’s when I pulled the plug on queries and put my manuscript in a forgotten pile and went on with my life by keeping busy with the strangest hobby which involved writing more and submitting my work to Other People. I know, sounds strangely like work and building a platform, but don’t let yourself be fooled. I was actually just pretending the book I had written didn’t exist and this was just one way to stay crazy busy enough to do just that.

And then one day I found myself being offered a featured blogger spot at Lissa Rankin’s Owning Pink.

Another found me giggling like a school girl in front of an ice cream truck when Leah Segedie asked if I wanted to be an editor on Bookieboo.

The email inviting me to bring some funny to An Army of Ermas had me at hello.

And the one asking if I was interested in contributing to 30 Second Mom would only have been answered faster if the subject line had read “A yes gets your face on an iPhone app.”

And I guess all that got me enough confidence to start submitting individual pieces and that’s when Hippocampus Magazine accepted an essay and Funny Not Slutty decided I was worthy and THE POINT IS I FINALLY GOT OFF MY ASS AND GOT TO WORK!

Somewhere in all that craziness I also put my ego away and reread my manuscript. You know, the one that Michele had said showed promise but wasn’t ready? Yeah, funny thing. Turns out she was right. I mean, it not only sucked, it also S-U-C-K-E-D. So I took her advice, hired Brooke Warner to edit, and busted my booty turning that manuscript around.

Eventually, I found myself at the Point of No Return. My manuscript was ready to go out into the big wide world or back into hiding. I decided to put on my big girl panties.

That’s when I got my pretty new(ish) query out and sent it off to five agents. Right after that I emailed Michele.

And on Valentine’s Day I was signing a contract to be represented by Michele Martin of MDM Management, who was originally referred to me by Tiffany Romero of Bloggy Bootcamp and Other Social Media Awesomeness and also now represents Lissa Rankin, who runs Owning Pink, and the synchronicity of the whole bit tells me that some things are just meant to be.

Moral of the story?

It’s entirely possible that my query letter still sucks. I wouldn’t know. I got my agent with an email.

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  16 Responses to “How I Got My Agent”

  1. I love How I Got My Agent stories! Thanks for sharing yours, warts and all. I signed with my agent back in December of last year and I had a similarly rocky road of rejection and revising. I started querying after my second draft. Big mistake. I’ve completed 12 drafts now and it’s amazing to me that I ever thought that early draft was up to snuff. It’s tempting to query when you feel like you’ve got it, but that “drawer time” when you take a break and don’t look at it is absolutely essential.

    Congrats, Pauline!
    Brock Heasley recently posted..Elora’s Four Dollar ApologyMy Profile

  2. Alexandra, the Empress herself directed me here. In fact, she told me I should read this/you. Politely.

    I’m in the throes of the querying process, so this was lovely, funny and absolutely helpful for me to read.

    Congratulations!! And I’m so glad Alexandra introduced me to you.
    heidi recently posted..surrenderMy Profile

    • Heidi, thank you for stopping by and much love to Alexandra for sending you my way. The biggest lesson I learned? Every mistake on the way made for some damn good writing. Can’t wait to connect more in the future!

      • So, via Twitter I learn you’ve been following my blog (in the non-stalker way) but did I know that? And forgive me if we already met somewhere along the way and I didn’t make the connection!! I just followed you on Twitter so you will not be missed!

        Yes to all the lessons learned! I got some incredible feedback from an agent – both brutal and positive – that led me to do some serious revision. The queries and the ms are out there now and I’m waiting…
        heidi recently posted..surrenderMy Profile

        • Confession time: I was following you on twitter but totally didn’t know it until I clicked your name to follow you after alexandra introduced us. So we’re kind of even. Yes?

          Also? Feedback from an agent is AWESOME!

          • I thought that’s what it might be, so I went to look for you in my scant ‘followers’ section and I couldn’t find you. Anyway, as you know I’ve followed you. :)
            And, yeah, we’re even. Nothing to get even about. I’m really happy Alexandra made this happen.
            heidi recently posted..surrenderMy Profile

  3. WOO HOO!!! I am thrilled to have been along for this journey and can’t wait to see where it goes.

    Seriously, you were born to write.

    The end.
    TiffanyRom recently posted..Slappy in the FaceMy Profile

    • Tiffany, you were born to connect people. And I can’t wait to see all the amazing opportunities that will come YOUR way. Also? You’re pretty.

      The end.

  4. Beaming with joy for you, girlfriend. So very proud and happy and smiling.

    I’m going to get some serious direction and get my stuff out. First off, asking TIff If I can go off her referral, too, and then contacting your editing suggestion. Getting my memoir published and my children’s book is My One Dream.

    Gotta play to win, right?

    Thanks for all this info, you are such a sharer. The world needs more of this, and there is enough room in the world for all of us…when will everyone realize this?

    SO HAPPY FOR YOU. High five,. xo
    Alexandra recently posted..What To Eat When Stress StrikesMy Profile

    • Alexandra, you are an amazing writer and I know you will go far. I can’t speak on the referral, but I can tell you that working with Brooke Warner (warner coaching) was incredible. She pushed me to tighten my work and find the real story mixed in with all the crap.
      Also? Yes….PLAY TO WIN, GIRLFRIEND! Cuz there’s plenty of room.

  5. The best thing about you, girl, is that not only can you write and you’re funny, but you’re open and honest and self-deprecating. I guess that’s a few things, huh? If you were a celebrity, I am certain you would not claim you only eat salad and never exercise or worry about your weight.
    Abby recently posted..The Smart One, the Funny One: Why Do We Label Our Kids?My Profile

  6. Woohoo! I’m on this road, and always enjoy reading these stories. Hope to write one myself someday. Soon. :) Congratulations!

    • Elizabeth, thank you for reading and commenting! I will tell you it is still surreal to realize I am one of “these stories” cuz I know exactly what you mean. Thank you for the support and I can’t wait to see where this road will lead. Good luck in your own journey!

  7. WOW!! This is a road to awesome if I ever read one. I love this!!! Congratulations on all you’ve accomplished-so wonderful!!! xoxoxo
    Jenn Greenleaf recently posted..All of my free promotions are over . . .My Profile

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