Finding a New Client: Biography of a “Yes”

I finished reading a manuscript the other day and about half way through I started to know I would be offering the author representation. You’re asking yourself, “How did she know?!” Well, here’s what happened…

First of all, the query had been riveting; it captivated me from the very first sentence. I read the first 20 pages and loved it, so I e-mailed asking for the full manuscript. As I read through other queries coming in over the next few days I waited impatiently for this coveted full to come in. After a week or so I re-e-mailed the author, asking if she’d gotten my request for the full. When she e-mailed me back that she’d already sent it I frantically searched through all my g-mail files. I found it, apologized profusely and jumped back in to reading, starting from the beginning again. And then… I couldn’t put it down! Laundry did not get done; my kids fended for themselves for dinner; I stayed up until 2:30 in the morning, only to awake at 6:30 and read some more before I got out of bed. I kept my fingers crossed the whole time I was reading: Please don’t let this plot jump off a cliff somewhere in the middle or near the end and die a horrible death… (or worse, start to be just plain dumb-ass or boring) I prayed, please, please, please stay as good as the beginning! And it did! It is a unique story told in a distinct way. It somehow manages to be funny, lyrical, poignant, informative, snarky, heart breaking and magical… When I finished, I took a deep breath and had to refrain from calling the author that moment. I e-mailed and asked if we could speak after the weekend. And then I let the manuscript percolate through me. I didn’t or couldn’t read anything else for a day or so. When we spoke that Monday and I offered representation I’m not sure which of us was more excited.

I get an unbelievable number of queries (unbelievable to me!) for a new agent. I am extremely discerning, knowing that I can only take on the very best of the best if I’m going to make it in this industry. So it’s a huge challenge, passing on manuscripts that are ok or good, because I’m looking for amazing. And this is that. I feel so lucky to have found this needle in the haystack and extremely grateful to have the opportunity to work with all of my extraordinary clients.

What book have you recently read that has gripped you so hard you had a difficult time putting it down?

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “Finding a New Client: Biography of a “Yes”

  1. I am so excited for both you and for the author. Some writers (like me) forget that finding an agent is a two-way street, both parties wishing for success with every try. It’s wonderful to see an agent so totally STOKED, because most of us have to get through so much negativity first. Glad to be reminded that a well-made match is a great thing for everyone involved. 🙂

  2. Sarah

    I still love the classics, like _Tuck Everlasting_, and recently I re-read Judy Blume’s _Are You There, God? It’s me, Margaret._ Some books stand the test of time. Recently I read _The Hunger Games_ series and _The Farwalker_ series, but mostly I’m a _Because of Winn-Dixie_ reader ’cause that’s how I write.

  3. cinnamonsalt

    This is heartwarming and inspires me to the fullest!

    The last two books that kept me up at night couldn’t be more different. One was _The Road_ by Cormac McCarthy. I cared about the father and son so much that I stayed awake and read furiously, as if I could somehow save them by holding on to the story.

    The second was _Wintergirls_ by Laurie Halse Anderson. I helped a friend revise her review of the book a few years ago for the Sun Sentinel, and was drawn to the author. I ended up reading _Speak_ first and loved it. Recently, I picked up _Wintergirls_ in search of a good YA read and just fell in love with the poetic style. It was the lyricism and short beats that kept me reading — and my personal connection to the story. Even though I didn’t feel much hope for the character, it was the music of the prose that kept hooking me into the next page.

    Thanks again for this inspiring post!

    -Megan

  4. Perhaps it’s a sign of age, distraction, or my life as a busy professional in the Age of Distraction, but in the last ten years the books I’ve found the most compelling have been novella length gems: WIlliam Maxwell’s classic So Long See You Tomorrow, JL Carr’s A Month In The Country, and most recently Julian Barnes’ latest, The Sense of an Ending. Each book a modest but perfect band of gold in a snug little case.

  5. Congrats – it’s great to read this from the other end of the pool, so to speak!

  6. Well the book I felt most strongly about this year was probably Divergent by Veronica Roth. I read the first 100 pages online at Harper Teen and was so hooked and desperate waiting for my hard copy I’d ordered to arrive. And it was definitely worth it.

    Sounds like a great experience for you and your client, congrats to you both!

  7. tonight, i was searching through grace paley’s book list on amazon and found this:
    http://byliner.com/ann-patchett/stories/excerpt-the-getaway-car

    i’m knee-deep into it and have already gifted it to two others.

    (thank you for sharing this part of the process; it’s refreshing to read about the start of the author-agent relationship from the agent’s point of view. Good luck to you and the author. )