Shauna ReynoldsThis How I Got My Agent post is EXTRA special because Shauna Reynolds was one of the inaugural 12 x 12 Scholarship winners in 2015. I remember reading her application and thinking, “This girl is going places.” 🙂 I have no doubt we’ll be seeing her win buckets of money on a game show someday. Many congratulations, Shauna!

How long had you been writing before seeking an agent, and what made you decide it was time to look for one?

I started querying as soon as I figured out I needed an agent but before I realized I wasn’t ready. I had finished a brilliant (but not really) manuscript and realized that it couldn’t possibly be improved upon. (I had a lot to learn. Still do.)

What kind of research did you do before submitting?

Studying Querytracker, reading countless agent interviews, looking into who represented some of my favorite picture books, and following lots of agents on Twitter. I also kept a close eye on deal announcements, making mental notes about who was selling what.

The dreaded questions: How many queries?  How many rejections?

Dozens of queries. And yes, I’m being intentionally vague. With rejections for most! Silent rejections (the worst!) helpful and encouraging rejections (the best!) and the dreaded form rejections (the most common!) I tracked them all in a color-coded spreadsheet, and now I feel like I ought to find something else to track in a color-coded spreadsheet.

Was it difficult to find an agent who wanted to represent an author focusing solely on picture books?

Knowing that I needed an agent who represented picture books, was open to unsolicited queries, and wasn’t solely seeking author-illustrators certainly narrowed the field down. But they are out there.

Who is your new agent? Tell us about getting the news.

I am over the moon to be represented by Adriana Dominguez of Full Circle Literary. When I let the agents at Full Circle know that I had received an offer of representation from another agent, I got enthusiastic voice mail and email messages letting me know that Adriana was very interested. We scheduled a phone call, and Adriana offered representation. I had other offers, so I needed a few days to think things through. But I kind of knew she was the one.

How did you know your agent was “the one”?

Each offer I received was from an agent I would have been thrilled to work with. The day before I was to let them know my decision, I had pretty much made up my mind. Adriana’s vision for my story and my career seemed to line up the best with my own, and her reputation is stellar. But it’s such a pivotal decision, and I have a tendency to second-guess myself. Then Adriana sent me an email going over some of the points of our conversation, reminding me why she wanted to work with me, and pointing out why I should want to work with her. When I read it, I felt the sense of peace I was looking for about the whole situation.

If 12 x 12 helped you in any way during your agent search/development of craft, can you tell us how? (P.S. It is TOTALLY okay if the answer is no. I am not trying to “lead” you 🙂 )

The most priceless benefit of 12×12 for me so far has been finding an amazing critique group. It can be hard to find a group of writers with similar levels of skill and ambition, but I think the stars just sort of aligned with us. I’m not sure if I’ll finish writing 12 drafts in these 12 months, but having that goal in mind has increased my productivity.

Has your writing process changed at all since signing with an agent?

Not really, but my goals and outlook have changed. It was hard for me to set specific goals beyond finding representation until it happened. I’m dreaming bigger now.

What advice would you give to picture book writers looking for agents today?

Read and write and read some more. Get involved with a critique group. They can help you sharpen your manuscripts, and you might learn even more by critiquing other people’s work. Do your research and don’t query anyone you wouldn’t be happy to get a “yes” from.

Do you think your platform (blog, social media) helped you find your agent?

I’d love to say that my dumb jokes and silly observations on Twitter had agents knocking at my door, but…nope. I do think that Twitter is a good place to “get to know” agents, editors, and other authors and get an idea about what people are writing, reading, selling, and buying.

Tell us something that is on your “bucket list.” Something you’ve dreamed of doing all your life but have yet to accomplish (besides publishing a book, which is inevitable at this point 🙂 )

I’ve always wanted to be a on a game show. Either something like Jeopardy! where all the trivial fun facts I’ve acquired can be turned into cash money, or something silly like The Price Is Right. I want to play Plinko and spin that big wheel.

What’s up next/what are you working on now?

My top priority right now is revising what was originally my March 12×12 draft. I’m also working on getting a website up. As for new material, the other night my husband mentioned something my 3-year old said in the bathtub, and the little wheels in my mind started turning. It was a perfect premise for a picture book. Inspiration is all around me.

Hear more of Shauna’s story in her 12 x 12 Success Story here.

Reader, are you looking for a picture book agent? Grab this 7-step submission checklist to help you avoid mistakes and make your submission shine.

Categories: 12 x 12, Agents, How I Got My Agent, Picture Books, Queries · Tags: , ,

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I flaked on author Christine Fonseca’s Thankful Tuesday series and forgot to write my post.  So I’ve christened today Thankful Thursday instead.  The topic this week is agents.  Before I get to that, however, I would be remiss on this day if I failed to thank all the veterans who have served our country honorably and have made many sacrifices to protect our freedom and keep us safe.  God Bless You!

Now, I wish I had a specific agent to thank, but I am still in the query phase.  If this post prompted a mad rush of agents to contact me, that would be perfectly fine…

Used with permission from Debbie Ridpath Ohi at Inkygirl.com

Okay back to the real world.  I read somewhere that a well-respected agent can get more than 10,000 queries a year.  Of those, they request material from a small percentage, and end up signing an even smaller percentage of clients based on the requested material.  Just reading queries and requested material, it seems to me, would be enough for a full-time job (which is why many have interns I suppose).  But then they have their actual clients to serve by helping them shape-up their manuscripts, selling said manuscripts to editors, negotiating contracts, rights and permissions, keeping up on the new digital world order of publishing, etc. etc. etc.  On top of all this, many of these agents take additional time to assist and educate writers, most of whom are not and never will be their clients.  They do this by speaking at conferences, providing critiques, listening to pitches, teaching workshops, and – my personal favorite – blogging.

As a blogger, I know how much time and dedication it takes to keep it fresh and interesting, and I have no pressure whatsoever other than what I put on myself.  But these agents all have more than full-time jobs and still take the time to educate writers through their blogs.  I feel lucky to be a writer in a time when so much information is given gladly and freely online, making it much easier to be a student of the craft and the business.

With that said, here are some of my favorite agent blogs, in no particular order except for Nathan’s.  He upped the ante with his Harry Potter themed posts this week. 😉

Did I miss anyone?  Do you have favorites I should add to the list?

Categories: Agents, Authors, Children's Books, Publishing, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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