Friday, July 9, 2010

How I Found My Agent

The January/February issue of The SCBWI Bulletin had the following blurb:

"Mary Grey James former lead book buyer for Ingram Book Company joined East/West Literary Agency (EWA) as a partner literary agent, personal interest in Southern women and their stories; serves as the vice president/president-elect of the Women's National Book Association (WNBA) and chair of the WNBA Pannell Award Committee that honors two bookstores each year which excelled in bringing books and young people together."

The words personal interest in Southern women and their stories jumped out at me. I grew up in rural North Carolina and most of my stories reflect that. Might Mary Grey James be the agent for me?

The article didn't list any contact information so I fired up Google. I located Mary Grey James and her email address through Linked In. I sent Mary an email query and she requested the full manuscript. About six weeks later, I signed the contract. Two things worked in my favor:

1. I write what Mary is looking for: Southern stories.
2. Mary is a new agent. It's easier to break in when an agent is actively building his/her list.

Mary has my first novel out on submission. It's an exciting time for me and I'm waiting. Waiting for the right editor to sprinkle blood, sweat and tears so that together we can turn my manuscript into a published novel.

Are you looking for an agent? Or do you already have one? I'd love to hear your story.


  1. I love reading about how people have found their agents, editors, publishers, etc. I found my agent by attending a conference. It was a lucky day indeed. Here's hoping that you're wonderful agent will find the perfect home for your manuscript.

  2. Fingers, toes and eyes crossed, and good luck on your latest novel as well.

  3. Congrats on all the recent good news! I don't have an agent but I like knowing there is an agent that is interested in souther women and their stories!

  4. Shannon, Joyce pointed me in your direction as I, too, am searching for an agent for my YA novel written in verse about a teen in the sixties coming to terms with her mother's mental illness. It's encouraging to hear your story, and if you bump into any agents looking for what I've described, I will be forever indebted!

    Linda Phillips (

  5. Linda, do you subscribe to Chuck Sambuchino's blog?

    I think that's the best place to start looking for an agent. Another excellent resource is joing Verla Kay's messageboard. Lots of writers share their experiences with agents in the "members only" section.

    I wrote about my success, but what I didn't write is that I probably queried 20 agents total. 16 said no thanks, one requested a partial, and three requested the complete manuscript. After all of that, only one offer of representation. It's usually a long process to find an agent.

  6. As an update, my agent has left the business. She is now managing a bookstore owned by the author, Ann Patchett in Nashville. I am back in the agent hunt.