This past week I signed my contemporary romance, Saving the Sheriff, with literary agent Dawn Dowdle of the Blue Ridge Literary Agency.
Finding (and signing with) the right literary agent for me (and me for them) has been high on my list of goals as an author for some time.
In general, the main role of a literary agent is to help you contract your book(s) with a publisher(s) and in return they receive a portion of your profits. I find that different literary agents have different approaches (some edit, some don’t), different interests, different perspectives, different genre preferences etc.. When I set out to find a literary agent, I had a checklist. Here’s the short version:
- Represents contemporary romance
- Represents authors with similar goals in terms of publishing houses, types of romance, etc. (but not too many, I still need to stand out right?)
- Has successfully negotiated contracts for other authors at the publishing houses I am interested in
- Edits (and by edits I mean can rip into my book and make it better)
- Is willing to be a sounding board for next projects, “I’m stuck” moments, career moves, marketing ideas, etc.
- Someone I feel comfortable with
- Someone who believes in me and my work (the most important item)
I had heard of Dawn through various events and was already researching her as an agent when I participated in the September #PitMad. For those who don’t know, this is a quarterly pitch contest conducted through Twitter. You have 140 characters to pitch your book to various agents/editors watching for the #PitMad hashtag that day. If they favorite one (or more) of your pitches, they want you to submit.
Dawn favorited one of my pitches! Now, I’ve done #PitMad the last 2 rounds, and had several favorites. I’ve sent off my manuscript with “Requested” in the email, and watched them go down the black hole of non-response land. So, while excited, I honestly didn’t expect too much.
To my delight, Dawn responded only a few days later saying she’d liked my pages and wanted to talk! Interest that quick already ticks my most important box of “someone who believes in me and my work.” I’d already done my research on her as an agent, but now I reached out to a few of her clients who are fellow Wild Rose Press authors and got stellar feedback from them. After talking to her, I found her easy to talk to and willing to work with me in the ways I was looking for. Check, check, check.
Now the contract is signed and the work begins. I know this is the beginning of a new phase in my journey as an author, and I am excited to see where this step takes me!