How #TeamMoe Gets Its Team Members

And now for something different, how an agent gets their clients!

A question came from the awesome Jessica Faust that folks were wondering how agents find their clients. Everyone always sees the ‘success’ story from the author’s perspective, but how often do the agents get to boast about their success in signing a client? Not enough, I’d say — because trust me, we bite our nails while we wait for you to make up your mind about as much as you bite your nails once you’ve sent that full manuscript! Since I’ve found my three clients via more unusual channels (read: not the slush pile), I wanted to blog a bit about my experience*.

*your mileage may vary.

Even though my inbox is insane right now, you’ll always see me hanging around things like #KidPit or #Pitmad and contests. That’s because I think there’s something great about going after genres and concepts you know you like. I, personally, find the slush pile is about finding things you had no idea you wanted and/or needed in your life like you need coffee and chocolate — whereas contests or pitch parties let you scroll through for things you know you like. Case in point, for the twitter parties, I tend to look at the #LGBT, #retelling, or #UF hashtags.

Enough of the tl;dr — onto the juicy things… how I snatched up my three clients!

S. Gonzales: The first one to jump on board #TeamMoe! A very dear friend of mine tipped me off to her #KidPit entry (side note, I definitely would have found it myself, but it’s awesome when friends know your tastes that well) and I starred that thing as fast as I could. Hilariously, I also (accidentally) faved it during #Pitmad because she changed her pitch so much I thought it was a different book! It further solidified how much I loved her plot and needed this book. I made the offer via Skype which was amazing to watch her completely freak out when I said “so this is THE CALL” — followed closely by a nail-biting ten days while I waited on pins and needles before she said yes.

Alythia Brown: One of my close friends from my fandom days is a co-mod on r/YAwriters and said I should do a query and first 250 critique session. I said yes — and neither of us could have imagined I’d get so many entries (seriously, this has been the story of my agenting life — though definitely not the worst problem to have!). Also at this time, I was set to be a Ninja Agent in #TheWritersVoice. Being the sneaky people that we are, one of TWV mods gave me a list of who was participating so I could hold off on requesting via reddit. Well, when I saw Aly’s entry… I couldn’t wait and requested anyway. Yes, she may have nudged me with another offer, but we clicked when talking on the phone and she loved my vision for the book, so here we are!

Katelyn Larson: Katelyn is another one I’ve found through the r/YAwriters critique session I did. She had a great hook and her opening pages were definitely attention-grabbing. This was another (unbeknownst to me) entry that was in WritersVoice that I snatched up early… so this was a second request that took away from the awesome mentors’ totals! (sorrynotsorry). Katelyn was another who approached me with an offer of representation but after talking on the phone, my vision for her book and the edits I wanted her to do absolutely melded together.

And now you know the current roster of #TeamMoe and I couldn’t be more happy to have them on my team.

I think, for me, I look at contests so closely because I was once a querying author and know how great they are for the writing community and networking. I did my fair share of contests and it did so much to get my novel in front of agents. Even though I never was offered representation, all the rejections came with great (and invaluable) feedback. Not only that, but I met some amazing people through those contests who I used to work with as beta readers.

However, contests are not the be-all-end-all for getting an agent. Like everything else in publishing, it’s all subjective. Your work might not fit with the mentors’ taste that round and thus, that perfect agent may not see your work. Always, always, always, always keep querying. EVEN IF an agent doesn’t request your work through a contest–that’s not a no at all. Still query.

Because, well, looking at my TBR submission pile? I’m fairly certain there are a few more “offer calls” just waiting to be made.

Category: BlogFerrara

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6 comments

  1. Oh, gosh. Just when I thought I was starting to know enough to be querying confidently… I read this, lol.

    I’ve never done the online comp/pitch contest thing because I wasn’t sure that it would actually achieve anything. Guess I was wrong there! Although I’m not sure how I feel about doing it. It’s one thing to put yourself out there quietly (ie slush pile where no-one else but you and the agent need ever know), but to throw yourself out there and let the world know. Eeeps.

    Moe, you said you made the call via Skype. In this day and age is it wise to include your Skype handle at the bottom of your query, along with phone and email? Or did you ask for Sophie’s Skype details after being in contact with her?

    1. For contests, it really is a your mileage may vary situation. Some people it works wonders for; others can be in contest after contest and never get anywhere. When I was a querying author a few years ago, I did a few contests that got me in front of people I wouldn’t have otherwise. Plus it’s great for meeting other writers, networking, and even finding critique partners! So I think there’s a lot of good that can come out of the contests. It just needs to be the right contest that has reputable agents/editors participating.

      Hah! I should have clarified with Sophie’s — this was a different situation since I was calling Australia! So we set up time to talk that way, but I much prefer being on my good ole iPhone when making THE CALL.

  2. So far my submission process has taken the old fashioned querying route. I invariably miss the online contest alerts and am always late for the twitter pitch parties because of the time difference.
    Interesting to see that even the agents have a nail-biting wait until the author makes up his/her mind.
    Moe, what troubles me is that you haven’t mentioned a client that arrived at your doorstep through the slush pile. Please, please, tell us that you found a client through that route too.

    1. It shouldn’t be troubling, as you put it. Like I said in the post, I have things in my inbox that I’m sure I’ll be offering on, I just haven’t gotten to that point yet! I only have the three clients so far (which… I just started with BookEnds in May!) and I just happened to get them from alternative means than the usual Slush Pile. But don’t worry, there will be Slush Success Stories soon, too. :^)

  3. Fascinating insight into dark, smoke filled room. I had always thought of the process as a little more like Caesar giving the thumbs up or down to the gladiators. It will be interesting to read a slush success story!

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