In today’s world, there is more than one way to get published. However, it seems traditional publishers remain the coveted path for many writers. But writers can’t simply shoot an e-mail to a publisher with their book attached and expect it to go anywhere other than the trashcan. Only agents can get through to publishers. So, it goes without saying that a writer who desires a traditional publishing contract must first secure representation by an agent.

So how does one go about finding an agent? It isn’t an easy process. It involves time consuming research, well written query letters, and often much, much more. It can be a soul sucking, confidence destroying, nerve racking process that may or may not produce results. I did not have luck with the query process but I do have an agent.

I met my agent, Stephanie Hansen of Metamorphosis Literary Agency, at the Writer’s Digest Workshop in Kansas City. I signed up for the workshop on a whim after seeing an advertisement in Writer’s Digest. I thought what the hell, right? I’d tried the query letter thing and it was a disaster. I rarely got a response from any of the agents, and when I did it was a short and sweet “thanks but no thanks.” Needless to say the query letter thing wasn’t my cup of tea. Maybe I’m a terrible query writer, I don’t know, but I got the impression that most of my query letters went unread.

So, I decided to go to the Writer’s Workshop in Kansas City and it turned out to be an excellent experience. I signed up for pitch sessions with three different agents and pitched my book to all three. Two asked for the full manuscript and the third asked for “as many pages as necessary to get the gist of the book.”

I spent the next couple of days thinking about what to do in the situation. One of the of the agents was Stephanie, who I obviously sent my entire manuscript to and ultimately signed with. But I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to send any of my manuscript to the other two. The guy who told me to send “as many pages as necessary,” struck me as lazy. I mean, seriously? He didn’t even want to read the whole thing.

The second agent, a female, made me feel like she wasn’t all that interested in my book but I should go ahead and send her the manuscript anyway and she’ll consider it. Later, after talking to other people who also pitched that particular agent, I found that was what she had said to everyone. It soured me on that agent. I felt she had no backbone. I man who doesn’t have enough nerve to say, “I’m not interested.” Agents are advocates and an advocate without a backbone is no advocate at all.

Ultimately, I decided to send my manuscript only to Stephanie. She was genuinely interested in my story and immediately started giving me ideas on how it could be marketed to publishers. It was a great experience. Much, much better than a cold e-mailed query letter. I felt like we each got a little taste of one another’s personality and I think that has translated well into our newly formed agent/writer relationship.

So that is how I found my agent sans query letter slush pile.

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