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Monday, January 18, 2016

How I Got My Agent: Tiana Smith

Today we are super lucky to have the lovely Tiana Smith here to share her "How I Got My Agent Story." This series has been pretty popular in the past, so I'm excited to have another weeks worth of awesome author/agent stories.

Take it away, Tiana!
While I've been writing for years, I didn't query my first couple of books because they were just that bad. Take my word for it. But my third book felt different. It had more life to it and I was completely invested in it, heart and soul. I sent it into the world and was pleasantly surprised when positive feedback started pouring in. Queries turned into partial requests, then full requests, some R&Rs and even talking with a few agents on the phone. But still, no offers.

I can't describe how incredibly disheartening it is to speak with agents (plural) on the phone and get SO FREAKING CLOSE, only to walk away to the same place you started. It was like competing in the Olympics and leaving without a medal. So super close, but still .003 seconds away. This went on for months and months. And months. I put the book away and waited until I felt ready to try again.

When I finished my next book, I slowly dipped my toes into the query trenches again. I started with the agents who had expressed interest, and as before, the requests came pouring in. This time, it wasn't exciting. It was dreadful. Each request was like a punch to the stomach, because I knew from experience it would end in rejection. I widened my umbrella and queried more agents. After a few months, I decided to send it to a mid-sized publisher who accepted non-agented proposals.

I was incredibly surprised when they made me an offer, and I wasn't sure how to react. I contacted the agents to let them know about the offer. Suddenly it was a flurry of activity as agents rushed to read my book. I got more requests in those two weeks than I'd had in months of querying, and that's saying something. There's no surer way to get an agent's attention than by telling them of someone else's interest. It was crazy. Surreal that querying could take so long, only to have everyone want it at once.

Rachel Marks called me the very next morning after I let her know about the offer of publication. At first, I wasn't even sure if she was offering representation. I'd talked with agents on the phone before, only to have them request revisions. I was a mess of nerves on the phone call with her, but she actually got my book. The changes she put forward meshed with my vision for it. Her personality and mine matched well. Anyone who likes Disney is a friend of mine ;) She recommended I turn down the offer of publication so we could pursue other options, which was what I really wanted.

As other agents came forward, I kept comparing them to Rachel. I knew she wanted what was best for me, my book and my career. I signed with her not long after that and now I'm working on revisions. So, it's been a long process. Longer than I would have liked, but honestly, I am incredibly happy with how things have worked out so far. Full speed ahead!

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Tiana Smith is a young adult author represented by Rachel Marks of Rebecca Friedman Literary. She makes a mean box of Mac & Cheese and likes to play around with graphic and web design. She firmly believes in happily ever afters and is married to her own Prince Charming. She doesn't blog a whole lot, but when she does, it's at tianasmith.com. She loves to connect online:


Liza said...

This just shows that we have to keep at it, keep plugging, and no matter how gosh darn hard it is, how awful it feels, success can only be forward...

Congratulations and best wishes!

Tiana Smith said...

This was fun to do, thanks Kristin!

mshatch said...

I always like reading about how long it takes other people; it gives me hope! Congrats, Tiana!

Liz A. said...

Interesting that you chose to go with the agent and not the small press.

Leandra Wallace said...

I was so happy for you when you made your agent announcement! I know one day it'll be a deal announcement too. =)

diedre Knight said...

How wonderful to have at last arrived in a comfortable zone! Motivation is always stronger with someone cheering you on ;-) Announcing the interest of others was the perfect spark to ignite your journey - brilliant! :-)

Huntress said...

I wish I knew the way to Agent Land. Tried and tried with Wilder and after 150 queries, got nuthin'

When Musa Publishing took a chance on me (thank you, Angi!!), I think they were fairly please with the sales though.
Between the publisher, Amazon/Kobo etc, and me, it made $30,000 for us.

Maybe I'll try again someday. *sigh*