How I Found My Agent & How Twitter Helped

Big News!                                                                                                 
I have some exciting news!!!! I’ve received publisher interest for The Binding of Saint Barbara, and I have officially signed with a literary agent, Cate Hart of Corvisiero Literary Agency! Hip, hip, hurray!!!!

A Little about Cate Hart and Corvisiero Literary Agency:
Corvisiero Literary is a growing boutique agency, which means they are small enough to give their clients more attention but big enough to still negotiate great deals for their authors. 
Cate Hart of Corvisiero Literary Agency

You can follow Corvisiero on Twitter and Facebook.

Cate Hart has experience as an author and editor and uses that knowledge to help her clients grow in their careers for the long term. She loves the Gilded Age and magical realism, making her a perfect fit for my craziness. I'm so excited to be working with her! 

You can find Cate on Twitter, Facebook, or on her website.

How Do You Get an Agent Exactly?
Getting here involved getting rejected ... a lot! In fact, I received so many rejections that I can’t even guess at the number. I freely chose not to keep track. So what was the "big break" as they call it? Believe it or not, it actually began on Twitter. 

The Pitch & The Twitter Pitch
Agent submissions are done via an emailed pitch letter called a query, but there has become a recent trend of holding “pitch events” on Twitter. A variety of agencies, writers, and bloggers hold these events, and they work like this: on such and such day, you can pitch using Twitter's 140 character-format (a challenge not unlike the elevator pitch) and using the event hashtag (#PitMad for example) plus genre hashtags (#HF for historical fiction).

If an agent is interested based on your Twitter pitch, he or she "Hearts" it, which is Twitter's version of a "Like." The agents generally Tweet instructions for how to pitch them if they heart your pitch. More detailed instructions are available at each Twitter Pitch event's homepage but that’s the gist.

Now, this is something I was doing in addition to the regular agent submission process, but it felt more efficient because you don't have to pitch blind. You only pitch those who have already shown interest. Nevertheless, my finding Cate wasn't that easy. 

When a Publisher Makes an Offer Before an Agent
First, I received a heart from a small publisher and after sending my official email pitch and the manuscript for review, I was made an offer. I could have just signed with the publisher without an agent, but a big part of an agent's job is negotiating contracts, so they are generally better at getting good terms.

Plus, my interest in an agent is a little more long-term. Many agents also serve as partners in the literary process, from creation to signed deal. That was the kind of person I was looking for because I'm in this for the long-haul, and I was looking for someone who could help me navigate the industry. With a small publisher interested, that gave me an advantage with agents because it shows the manuscript is attractive enough to garner interest. 

So I then contacted the agents I had already submitted to and informed them of this offer. This is common and polite practice in the industry. I also queried a few new agents who I thought might be interested and informed them up front that I already had an offer. Cate Hart of Corvisiero was among this group, and she loved the book! 

After that, Cate contacted me and set up a good time for a phone call to make sure we were compatible. I had to do another round of informing other agents that I had an offer. Again, this isn't just an advantage, but also a polite courtesy, as agents really don't like it if they get interested in a manuscript and call the author only to learn that the author already signed with someone else. We hashed out the final terms, I signed, and now I have representation! 

How Long did it Take to Get an Agent?
This is something I remember looking into myself, and I remember finding a lot of posts that made it sound like so and so sent out one query or was looking for only a month before they found an agent, but I have a suspicion that those people may have only been referring to their most recent round of pitches because most people try for a really long time. For example if I just started with the Twitter part and didn't mention all the rest of my efforts, it might seem like it came easy but that's so not the whole story.

So I have multiple answers to the question: How long did it take? 
  • From the time I started writing my first book: 9 years
  • From the time I started writing my second book (the one the agent is interested in): 7 years
  • From the time I started pitching the second book: 6 months to 1 year.
  • From time of Twitter Pitch: 2-3 months 
  • From time I received agent offer: Little over 1 month.  
I was surprised by the time it took after I got the agent offer. I really was imagining I'd sign in a week or something but I had no idea how the time adds up when you have to inform the other agents who you've submitted to and meticulously go over the contract with the assistance of a legal professional.

So What Happens Next?
It means we are one step closer to getting The Binding of Saint Barbara in your hands! Hip Hip Hurray!!!! Cate will start by talking with the publisher who showed interest and a few others until we work out some terms and sell the book. Once it’s sold, we will get to work on getting it out to the readers—that’s you!!! Yay!!!!

In other words, we are one step closer but there is still more work to be done, so … I’ll keep you updated!

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