Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue


Anatomy of an Agent Search

I just read the story of writer Deborah Blake’s arduous search for an agent and found it inspiring along with a few insightful nuggets of how you may deal with literary agents.

Deborah (pictured left) told her story: 2 Years, 3 Manuscripts, and 50 Rejections: Anatomy of an Agent Search to famous romance author Candace Havens (pictured right):

I have been writing on and off my entire life. In my youth, I even sent out a few short stories (mostly fantasy and science fiction). They got rejected. That led to the “off” part.

Five years ago, almost accidentally, I wrote a book about modern Witchcraft, and started my career as a Llewellyn author. I loved writing the nonfiction, and my fourth and fifth books will be out this year—but truly, my heart was with with fiction world. So I decided I needed to get serious about that side of my writing. That first nonfiction book had taught me something important: I could finish a book.

I set myself some concrete goals: I would write and finish a novel. Then I would get an agent. A top agent, of course. I knew it wouldn’t be easy. But I didn’t realize just how hard and long the journey would be.

Two years, three manuscripts, and well over fifty rejections later, I finally achieved my goal. Along the way, a few surprising things happened, and I learned a lot about the agent search, publishing, and myself.

Candace Havens—one of the best surprises that happened to me on my journey—suggested that I share my travels and a little bit of what I learned, so here it is:

The Journey—

I finished the final edits on the first book in early February of 2008, and sent out my first query about a week later. Over the course of about a year, I sent out a lot of other queries, and got requests for partials and a few requests for fulls (including one from Harlequin editor Patience Smith, as a result of my EMILY “Best of the Best” contest win). I used all the Writer’s Digest GUIDE TO AGENTS and GUIDE TO PUBLISHING books, and the Agent Query site online. I also checked websites for the agencies and agents I was interested in, read the dedication pages of books by authors I respected, and started spending inordinate amounts of time following agents and editors on Facebook and Twitter.


It took insane amounts of time and effort, but the research really did pay off. For one thing, I only sent queries to agents who represented the kind of books I was writing. Which undoubtedly increased the amounts of requests I got (and didn’t piss off the agents—always a plus). It also helped me to come up with a top “wish list’ of agents, one of whom was the agent who signed me.

Read the rest of the story at


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