Personal Writing Story: Finding an agent (or 2)

Reading Time: 4 minutes
finding an agent

Every author dreams about their big break. That moment where you send in your manuscript, and the publisher calls you two hours later, begging you to sign with them. But we all know that is stuff made out of dreams, right? In reality, you can only send in your work through agents, so finding an agent becomes a necessity if you want to go the traditional way. 

finding an agent

I must confess, things work a little different in the Netherlands. I have talked with publishers, have some of them on speed dial even, and you can send them an email to which they often will reply. If you have a network and can drop a name or two, of course. So when I decided to return to my roots and focus on the English market, I had to change my game.

Taking a leap

When I finished writing The Hunt, I planned to self-publish. I wanted to turn it into a really wicked e-book, and then put it onto Amazon, Google Books, B&N, and all the other platforms. But I did strive for the best quality possible. So after three big revising rounds, I had it proofread. 

My proofreader fell head over heels with the story, but, in all fairness, she is also one of my best friends. So I did not think too much of it just yet. Besides the confidence boost, of course. After revising once more, I hired a professional beta reader. I waited anxiously for about a month until she returned the manuscript. What I read blew my mind. 

finding an agent

Yoanna, my beta reader, also loved the story. I felt my cheeks burn bright as I went through her notes. Reading her replies as she went through my work felt like an adventure on its own. The ooh’s and aah’s in all the right places, the holding of breath, the shivers. Reading about that lifted my spirit instantly. 

I think at that point I realized that choosing self-publishing was playing it small. And I am in this game to win it. I set my mind to traditional publishing and discussed this idea with a couple of my loved ones. Their reactions were all the same, almost relieved. That feedback told me I was really on the right track, so I decided to take the leap into my next adventure. Finding an agent. 

Shopping around

Finding an agent is not an easy task. Well, I guess it could be. You can write to twenty-five different people all at once and hope one of them takes the bite, but that is just not me. I want an agent that will be devoted to my career. That will guide me, that knows their way around in the publishing world. But most of all, I want to feel connected with the agent that is going to represent me. For me, it is all about that click.

So I decided to shop around a little. The awesome thing about the internet is that it allows you to peak through all the different windows. I saw maybe fifty different agents, even listed a few to research a bit more, before I finally saw the one that made my heart race. And when I looked at her rap sheet, I just knew I had to write to her. It listed authors, one after another, that I enjoy reading. 

finding an agent

Now, these authors did not write in my genre perse, but I do not think that matters. I read a lot of the ones she represents. Their voices speak to me, but apparently also to her. I do hope my writing speaks to her as well. So, I decided to research her a bit further.

Oh, and for those who wonder… Yes, I searched for agents representing the authors writing in my genre. Some of them did not speak to me, others did not take queries at the moment, and none popped out to me. Hence my prolonged window shopping.

Writing the query letter

The reason I wanted to invest a little more time in finding out who this agent was, had to do with the query letter. I wanted to be able to write a unique letter, that showed me I spend time on her, hoping she would do the same for me. 

It was during this research that I found out that this particular agent doesn’t give a flying f about them. So what did I do? I included that fact in my straightforward letter, referring them to the added pages to get to know more. 

finding an agent

Unfortunately, I am unable to tell you if I was successful with this approach or not. But I have found a second agent that matches my internal yippyayee vibes, so right now, I am back at the beginning. 

Let the research begin! 

Do you want to know more about me? Send me your question at info@maartjecooijman.com

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