How I Signed With My (Second) Literary Agent
Because I guess writing my first “How I got my agent” blog post and then archiving it a year later wasn’t enough?
I am finally agented (again). Thank f*cking God. You might recall that, in August 2020, I’d announced signing with a literary agent. I was on top of the world. Unfortunately, we weren’t the best fit, and we parted ways in 2021.
And I returned to the query trenches with a brand-new adult rom-com manuscript: a desi retelling of Jane Austen’s EMMA set in Mumbai.
I didn’t know what to expect. I was frustrated, heartbroken, exhausted. Once you get a taste of that agented author life, it’s hard to come back to querying. But I had to.
So, on September 9th, 2021, I sent my first batch of 10 queries. Two of them were client referrals from dear friends, and the rest were all cold queries. I crossed my fingers and waited until I had at least a few requests and personalized rejections. Then I sent the next batch. And the next. And the next.
Requests came pouring in. Form rejections, too. Then personalized full rejections, all raving about my voice, my premise, my characters, the fun Mumbai setting… but then that “Unfortunately” word butted in and shattered my heart. Every. Single. Time. And I realized just how difficult querying has been since the pandemic. It’s nothing like the last time I queried.
Soon, it was May 2022. 8 months into querying, I was ready to call it quits. I cancelled my QueryTracker premium account and told my boyfriend and my author besties that I was f*cking done. “I’m not sending out more queries,” I said. “I’m not doing any other pitch contests. If this book doesn’t get an agent, I’m giving up on publishing.”
My mind was made up. But then, a UK agent who’d liked my MoodPitch tweet emailed me back. She wasn’t able to take on more clients, but could she forward my query to her colleagues who loved the premise? I said yes, and within a couple days, two agents from that agency requested my full.
Huh. Maybe UK agents really liked my writing? So I broke my rule and queried a bunch of UK agents, and received more full requests.
A week later, on May 24th, 2022, I received my first offer of rep from one of those two agents. We had an incredible conversation over Zoom. I loved their vision for my book, but as excited as I was that I finally had an offer, I knew I had to nudge the 12 or so agents still reading my full and the 20-something agents with the query.
The two weeks after you receive an offer, when you wait for other agents to make their decision, is *supposed* to be an exciting time. It holds the promise of more offers, after all. But as rejection after rejection came in, self-doubt crept in. Despite receiving 50-something full requests, was I really going to end up with just ONE offer? What did that say about my writing? Did nobody else in publishing believe they could champion my work?
Once again, I felt like sh!t even though I had a fantastic offer already. That’s what publishing does to you. Nothing ever seems like it’s good enough. You never feel like you’re good enough.
Anyway, on Friday, June 3rd (a mere 4 days before my offer deadline), another agent requested the full–this time, a US agent. I was confused, because how would she make time to read this late in the game? Regardless, she was one of my top-choice agents, so I went ahead and sent her the full.
She emailed me back Monday. She loved desi EMMA and wanted to set up a call.
Oh. My. God.
So, on the final day of my offer deadline period, I had a Zoom call with this agent. Me being me, I asked her twenty or so questions about her vision for my book, the submission process, what her agenting style is, and other relevant things, and she answered each one perfectly. Her vision for my whole career seemed wonderfully aligned with mine, not just this one book, and less than a minute after I got off the call, I walked over to my boyfriend and said, “I’m going with her.”
And I did. The agent in question is Rachel Beck at Liza Dawson Associates, and she is so incredible! I still can’t believe she offered right before the deadline, but what I can believe is that I chose her.
Leaving my ex-agents was a painful choice, and I’m scared some of that publishing trauma will trickle into this new agent-author relationship too. But I have faith that everything so far has happened for the best–and my author career will only go onwards and upwards from here.
In case you were wondering, these were my query stats:
Queries sent: 144
Full/partial requests: 57
R&Rs that I didn’t pursue: 2
What’s next you ask? Well, I’m midway through revisions before we go on submission with desi EMMA, and then I’ll hopefully land the book deal of my dreams. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @swatithegeek and Instagram @writewithswati to stay updated on all my news!
Until next time!
Love hard & dream big,
Desi. Dreamer. Author. Reader. In that order.