How I Got My Agent (featuring DVpit)

The short: I’m now represented by Zabé Ellor of The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency!!!

excited scream gif

The long version…

Around October 8, I was really anxious about Pitch Wars results. Like. I didn’t want to get in. I kept thinking, “Oh god oh god oh god, I’m so burnt out! I just wanna query! I wanna participate in DVpit!”

And, behold! I didn’t get in! Dude, I was so relieved. I was so damn happy the opportunity went to someone else who’s way more deserving 😅

Anyway, I was going to reuse my #PitMad pitches, but since #DVpit allows for more, I decided to whip a few extra, ’cause what the hell.

As with #PitMad, my first pitch of the day got the most likes.

Voilà.

The first agent like of the day went to Zabé, a brand new agent at JD Lit.

However, another agent at JD Lit had requested in PitMad. I told Zabé, who said the other agent would share.

I started to get mad antsy and counted down the days when I could either nudge or close out agents from PitMad.

Maybe I should close out now and let Zabé know when I query him.

THEN. ZABÉ FOLLOWED ME???

AND DM’D ME ON TWITTER???

“Roseanne spoke well of your writing and suggested I might like to take a look at it.”

Confused Nick Young

What a coinkydink, since I was just thinking about querying him right then 😅

Zabé must’ve read my first three chapters in, like, an hour before requesting the full.

That weekend, I was twiddling my fingers and refreshing my inbox and groaning. “Uuuughhhhh are any agents in their inboxes this weekend? Am I gonna get ANYTHING?”

Sunday evening: Inbox DING

“I stayed up until 2AM reading BLOOD PRINCESS last night and the ending KILLED me. Would you be available for a call to discuss the project and your career this week?”

Xena speechless

Cue me staring at the screen, wondering, Wait…is this an offer?

I was so dumbstruck, like, Wait, this doesn’t feel real. Is this an offer?

Dropped a line into the #DViants Slack group:

DVpit hopefuls holy shit i have an offer

I moseyed on over to the Pitch Wars 2017 “I’ve got a call!” thread and posted there, still completely dumbfounded.

My god, guys 😭 There was so much outpouring love ❤️ I feel like everyone else was more excited than I was because it didn’t feel real and I was still like, “WAIT, IS THIS AN OFFER?”

The last time I looked up what to do in case of an agent call was maybe ten years ago. I figured I’d find out what to do when the time came so I didn’t have to fill my brain with unnecessary information.

But in that moment, I was like, I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO?!?!?!

So I DM’d my Pitch Wars 2017 mentor, Laurie Dennison, and told her what was up. I was so happy I could actually have that conversation with her 😭 I didn’t want to nudge anyone in case the call turned out to be an R&R. She sent me some questions to ask during the call, many of which could be found here on Jim McCarthy’s blog: https://dystelblogarchive.wordpress.com/2016/01/26/jim-suggests-questions-to-ask-a-prospective-agent/

Zabé and I set up the call for 2:30 PM PST on Halloween.

I really wanted Mexican food on Halloween. My friend put the idea in my head. ‘Cause Dia de los Muertos. And Mexican food. I really wanted chile relleno, but I never got it, because four hours before my scheduled call, I felt like I was going to throw up. What if he doesn’t offer?! I ended up getting Greens ‘n Ginger from Jamba Juice 😂 Needed that ginger to calm my stomach. (I still want chile relleno…)

About five minutes into the call, Zabé said something like, “I’m offering representation,” and everything he said before that was such a blur that I can’t remember if those were his exact words. Probably not.

Zabé told me that I would be his first client. And I was absolutely fine with that, especially if he got support and mentorship from the agency. Actually, I was pretty fucking thrilled. What an absolute honor to be an agent’s first client 🤩

But, I really knew Zabé got my manuscript when he called my babies “cinnamon rolls.”

Hogwarts Polaroid signed
I love them so fucking much.

After nudging all the agents with the full and outstanding queries, doing some research, and going on vacation in Seattle, I signed with Zabé Ellor on November 14 😊

5307A353-5249-4520-9D14-60FF2835D56B

But the truth is, I couldn’t have done this alone. I wrote a separate blog post here about the importance of community in online pitch parties like DVPit.

And while this post was all fun and confusion and a whirlwind of emotions, I’ve been querying for thirteen years. BLOOD PRINCESS is probably the tenth manuscript I’ve finished and the fifth manuscript I’ve queried.

I feel like I’m pretty fortunate to have gotten early interest with BLOOD PRINCESS primarily from pitch parties. So here are some stats for those who are still in the query trenches.

For a certain manuscript I queried in 2015:

97 sent queries
4 partial requests
2 full requests
67 rejections
full request rate of 2%

For my Pitch Wars 2017 manuscript THE HOUSE WITH TWO FACES:

138 sent queries
11 partial requests
14 full requests
108 rejections
1 R&R request
full request rate of 10%

For BLOOD PRINCESS:

37 sent queries
14 of which were #DVpit requests
and 10 of which were #PitMad requests
15 full requests
10 rejections and many step-asides
1 offer of representation
full request rate of 41%

Taking into consideration the rejections for the other two books I don’t have stats for, that’s probably over 400 rejections from literary agents alone.

A few times, I had asked myself, why am I doing this? Why do I bother writing if no one cares? I’ve always come back to the answer, because I love telling stories. Even if no one else reads my work, I have to do it for myself. I feel most alive when I’m telling stories.

So, the next time you feel down and everyone else is passing you by and signing with agents and getting book deals, remind yourself why you’re writing. And if you want to pursue traditional publishing and get an agent, don’t you dare give up.

Keep writing.

Connect with other writers.

Improve your craft.

Read recently published books.

Be a nerd like me and keep stats so you can show people how many times you fell short before gaining anything.

Keep trying.

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8 thoughts on “How I Got My Agent (featuring DVpit)

  1. Congrats! Thanks for sharing this inspiring and insightful story. I especially appreciate the stats, because they reveal the numbers game, how the persistence engine works, and motivate me to keep going.. and going… and going… no matter how many FRs, ERs, CNRs, or R&Rs show up in my mailbox, hoping that R (for rep) might happen someday, like it did for you. Can’t wait to read your book!

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  2. Oh Adelle! Thank you for sharing your journey. I’m so thrilled and proud of you. I also appreciate you sharing your query stats. It’s not easy putting yourself and your MS out there and it’s really inspiring to see that when you believe in what you do and be persistent, it will happen! I’m so excited for your story! Congratulations!

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  3. Just wanted to say congrats again! What I’ve heard about your story sounds amazing, and your perseverance is inspirational to the nth level. And what a freaking awesome experience to be an agent’s first client! I can’t wait to hear more about your journey and cheer you on as you get closer and closer to publication. :]

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  4. Congratulations to you, Adelle! Your story is similar to so many authors (mine too!). You keep trying despite all the rejection, you keep writing, keep improving, and then one day something falls into place. Some agent tells you “yes” after endless “no’s”, how much they love your writing, how they want to help you reach your goals as an author…it’s honestly SUCH an incredible feeling! I’ll never forget it 🙂

    So very excited to follow you as you work to publishing your book!

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  5. This is a rather inspiring success story!

    400 rejections. Wow. I kinda gave up after my 4th rejection and after the 6th one, I made up my mind to self-publish. To be fair, although I felt really discouraged at that time, part of the reason was also because there’s only 4-6 publishers in my country (Singapore). We have a very small market.

    Anyway, thanks for your story. That’s very inspiring and I will be sure to tell my fellow writers here to read this post. 🙂

    Like

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