You guys are going to love today’s installment of “How I Got My Agent.” Danielle Dufayet‘s story illustrates a point so important it bears stating in my introduction: No agent is better than the wrong agent. I’m so happy Danielle waited for “the one” that she so definitely deserves. Take note, too, if the number of queries and rejections. Keep writing, people! If you keep working and keep learning, you WILL succeed. Please welcome Danielle.
How long had you been writing before seeking an agent, and what made you decide it was time to look for one?
I’ve been writing off and on all my life. I started submitting to publishers starting in 2004, but I made a serious commitment to my children’s writing back in 2010. I made the decision to find an agent right about the same time.
What kind of research did you do before submitting?
The first thing I did was go to the website and check what kinds of books they were publishing. I would read all about the agent, including blogs, tweets, etc.
The dreaded questions: How many queries?
In total, about 150 to agents How many rejections? 149 🙂 But that’s for my numerous manuscripts.
Was it difficult to find an agent who wanted to represent an author focusing solely on picture books?
I targeted my queries and submissions to agents who had a strong interest in picture books.
How did you know your agent was “the one?
My agent is the fabulous Karen Grencik at Red Fox Literary. I attended one of her talks, The Heart of Picture Books, at the Oakland SCBWI conference. She gave such a genuine, heart-felt speech that I just knew it would be a dream to have her as my agent.
I actually had another agent that offered me representation but I felt like I was left hanging. She emailed me that she loved my manuscript and wanted to represent me. I became a little hysterical (crying, hyperventilating) when I got that email. It was so out of the blue! So I responded to her email but then I wouldn’t hear anything for weeks. This went on for a good month or so. Even though I heard that that was not uncommon, I knew that I would not be happy with that kind of communication style so it was a blessing in disguise that I didn’t sign a contract with her.
The very next day after the SCBWI conference I sent Ms. Grencik a pretty heart felt letter of my impression of her and included one of my manuscripts. She wrote back immediately that she loved it so we emailed back and forth a little more then scheduled a time to talk. She was not as enthusiastic about my other work, (too wordy) but I knew I could get them in tip top shape so I wasn’t worried. I really liked her personality, (super sweet and kind) her character (hard working, loyal) and her communication style (professional, good follow through) and that is the most important thing for me. When we talked I think we both felt a good connection. She asked me if I still wanted to submit to other agents, etc. I said, “No! I’d like you to be my agent” and she said “OK!” I was on cloud nine. Getting an agent is hard enough, but getting one that you love and admire? I immediately notified the other agent thanking her for her time and interest and that I had found other representation.
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 🙂 )
12×12 was such a great support. Through 12×12, I joined a great critique group online which was invaluable. It was also a great place to critique others’ work, which I find so helpful with my own writing. I also got some positive feedback from some of the agents there which was definitely encouraging!
Has your writing process changed at all since signing with an agent?
Yes, I can already tell that it’s more focused and geared to the industry. When your agent tells you, “Editors want this…” it takes the guessing game out of it. Then, it’s up to me to deliver!
What advice would you give to picture book writers looking for agents today?
Beside the tried and true: keep writing and improving your craft, read as much as you can which will help you understand the market. But I have to emphasize not to submit unless you feel in your heart that it’s really ready – it’s the best it can be. It’s not so much a “numbers game” but a timing game.
Do you think your platform (blog, social media) helped you find your agent?
No. I think it was my manuscript, but I think it helped I had a website of my pre-published work. I think it shows that I am a serious writer that’s in it for the long haul.
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 🙂 )
Going to Africa and meeting Desmond Tutu and giving him a copy of my (pre-published) book, UBUNTU which celebrates global oneness and unity consciousness.
What’s up next/what are you working on now?
I have joined Toast Masters to help me get ready to do speeches. It’s scary, but a must in this industry!
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, Guest Blogging, How I Got My Agent, Queries, Writing · Tags: 12 x 12, Agents, Danielle Dufayet, Queries, Writer