How I Found My Agent
Updated: Sep 29, 2021
A whole NINE MONTHS (yep, you read that right!) after signing with my agent, I am finally writing this post! I think I might've just needed time to process everything, and I also knew it was going to be a long post so I kept pushing it back. But I am so excited to share with you my journey in finding my incredible agent, Jennifer Mattson of Andrea Brown Literary Agency! ❤️
Let me preface this by saying that I was completely clueless and naïve about the publishing world when I decided I wanted to find an agent. I, like many new authors, didn't even know that finding an agent was part of the publishing process. I began writing THE LUNCHBOX in late 2019, but I didn't really start actively working on it until the pandemic hit in the spring of 2020. At around August 2020 I had just finished writing and revising my manuscript, had an editor read it (shoutout to Katie Zhao!), and was overall feeling pretty good about my book. I literally searched "How to get your book published" on Google. And boy...was I shocked! This is when I learned about self v. traditional publishing, publishing houses, imprints, editors, querying, pitching, conferences, and agents. This is when I realized that it was most definitely NOT going to be a quick and easy process. I started looking for an agent the only way I knew how: by Googling "How to find an agent" (are you seeing a trend here yet?). I also found websites like Manuscriptwishlist.com and started writing a list of potential agents that I thought could be a good fit. I was still completely lost and clueless.
At around September 2020 was when I joined the Asian Author Alliance group on Facebook. I didn't learn too much from the group since many people there were already published authors, BUT THEN...someone posted about #DVPit! I would consider this one of the biggest turning points in my writing career, because *spoiler alert* I met my agent during #DVPit and it was the reason why I decided to make a Twitter account! I remember commenting on the post to ask how I could participate, and one of the #DVPit committee members Kat Cho told me that it would be hosted on Twitter. I had not been a personal fan or user of Twitter but was more than willing to create an account to participate. I followed a few other writers, and then shared my practice pitch for #PreDV. This was when I met and connected with many other fellow writers and some authors as well! I was still pretty clueless but excited about the general good response from other people.
Finally, on October 26th, I participated in #DVPit! I was shaking as I posted my tweet that morning at 8:07am. I was virtually teaching that day, but it was hard to focus. I mentally prepared myself to not receive any agent or editor interest, especially because I was so new to the writing/Twitter world. After obsessively checking my Twitter all day (thank you Ben for being patient/dealing with me), it was finally 8pm and #DVPit was over. My heart was beating so fast when I saw my post. I couldn't believe it. People were actually interested in THE LUNCHBOX!
I immediately began compiling a list of agents I wanted to query to. I prepared a query letter and synopsis (guess where I found info for writing them). I was so stuck between wanting to query quickly so that agents wouldn't forget about me and being so anxious about making sure my manuscript was absolutely perfect. I sent out about 20 queries total. I had heard horror stories about shmagents, so I made sure to do my research and was very cautious about which agents to query to. My first few queries resulted in rejections. They were tough. Many of them loved the premise, but weren't sure about the length. I began to wonder if the only thing good about my book was the premise and suffered from major imposter syndrome.
Then, in November, I received a DM from an agent who had liked my pitch and wanted me to query to him. I sent him my query letter and manuscript and within a few hours, he asked if he could call me! He told me he loved the story and offered immediately!! I couldn't believe it. I definitely did not keep cool and ran around screaming to my family and Ben. Now you might be asking, "But isn't Jennifer a (self-identified) woman?" You're right, and it's because I ultimately did not end up signing with this agent. I was SO excited, but also knew deep down that this agent would not be the best fit for me.
It was back to waiting to hear from more agents. In early December, I finally heard back from Jennifer! I had always admired ABLA and was blown away when I saw that Jennifer had liked my pitch during #DVPit. She told me she loved Mark and loved the voice and requested the full. After anxiously waiting for a few days, we were finally able to set up a call! We talked through possible revisions, and her vision for THE LUNCHBOX was absolutely incredible. She had such a great balance of providing insightful critiques while making sure she was culturally aware/sensitive. She finally called me the next day with an offer!! At this point, my heart was set on Jennifer, but I still nudged and called a few authors signed with her. On December 13th, I called her to let her know I wanted to accept her offer! ❤️
So that's how I found my agent! It was a challenging journey. The rejections stung HARD, and there were many times when I wondered if my manuscript was truly good enough. But I am so thankful that Jennifer believed in me, and I am proud to have her as my agent! ❤️ Also, special shout out to dvpit.com for creating a space for diverse voices to share their stories!