How I Got My Agent (!!!:D)

Jan / 14

How I Got My Agent (!!!:D)

By / Jessica Leake / 6
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*Disclaimer: There’s excessive use of capitalization and exclamation points in this post, but it’s not even CLOSE to how bad it would be if I wrote this a month ago!!


*Off-topic note: Isn’t my baby girl cute?? 😉


First of all, I can’t believe I’m actually getting to write a post on this!! This has been a dream for so many years now, and after 2 shelved manuscripts (manuscripts I actually bothered to query that is), the 3rd was the one!


And you know what? Getting picked out of the slush really CAN happen! I was in so many writing contests this past year I always thought it would happen that way. I mean, statistically, I probably had a better chance since more agents saw my work at one time. Lots and lots of contests. With each one, I became more and more cautiously optimistic. Even during the last contest–Authoress’ Baker’s Dozen (link to Miss Snark’s First Victim here; if you don’t read her blog, you definitely should!)–I was one of the twenty-five adult entries, and I got some great critiques but not a single bid from an agent. I still didn’t lose hope!


Querying for this MS was different. I got a positive response right away–completely different from my past querying attempts! I looked up the stats for those of us who are completely obsessed with stuff like that:

  • Total queries sent: 44
  • Partial requests:7
  • Full requests:9
  • Offers: 2
  • Rejections: 35 (counting rejections on partial/full requests)


I’d come really close with a few agents, even an R&R with one, but no offers yet. Since November and December are such a busy time for agents, I suspended my querying. I think 7 agents still had my work.I was busy with my sweet babies anyway and getting ready for our big trip to SC for Christmas with our family. We drove home to SC on December 7th, and that night, I got both an email and a voicemail (AHH!! An agent CALLED me!!) from an agent saying she loved my MS but didn’t think she could sell it. She wanted to talk, though, and see what else I had. So I was excited but not entirely, since she hadn’t made any promises. And of course it called for emergency phone calls and texts with my beloved CPs!! (Thank you for keeping me sane, guys ;))


Because she was so busy, we couldn’t speak again until the following Friday (a whole WEEK later…I was pretty crazy by then…I probably drove my family and CPs nuts because I constantly talked about it). Meanwhile, an agent I thought was a total pipe dream emailed and said she was really enjoying my MS and wanted to see the full. We all know how that goes, though, right? That doesn’t necessarily mean anything, but it did make me hope that maybe someone would offer eventually. I let her know another agent was really interested and I had an appointment to talk to the first agent the next day.


The big day to speak with an agent for the first time came, and thanks to my obsessive preparedness for the possibility I might one day get to that point, I had lots of questions printed out. I was a teensy, tiny bit nervous (okay…a lot. My husband caught me sitting alone staring at the phone…he was scared). But I managed to rein in the anxiety to some semblance of sanity. Also, I’m a therapist who has worked on a psych unit for a few years, so I’m pretty capable of talking to anyone–even if I’m freaking out on the inside. Unfortunately, the talk with the first agent was a little discouraging because as we talked I realized it probably wouldn’t work out even though she was so nice and easy to talk to. She didn’t think she could sell my MS, but she was interested in my WIP, so the call ended on a hopeful note.


But I’m ridiculously blessed because that same day, THE agent (the amazing Brianne Johnson from Writers House–the one who was a total pipe dream) emailed me saying she loved it and needed the rest of the weekend to finish, but she would let me know on Monday whether or not she could offer representation.


0.0—>my face. All day. Wandered around like that for awhile.


Right off, I loved the fact that she told me bluntly what I could expect: representation or not. I mean, I know that’s the point of querying, but sometimes it feels like some agents are beating around the bush about it.


In that same email, she told me what part of my MS she was reading (she actually said she almost missed her stop because she found it so engrossing–this made me grin like I was insane for the rest of the day), so I neurotically read from that point on in my MS. I went back and forth from feeling proud of what I had written to hyperventilating and sending panicked texts to my CPs (again, thank you for helping me stay sane!!).


Monday FINALLY came, and she emailed me right away in the morning–another thing I really like about her! If she says she’s going to call or email, you can be sure she will–and ON TIME!! I skimmed to the end first, scanning desperately for any “but’s” “I’m sorry’s” or “unfortunately’s”. Does anyone else do that?? There wasn’t a single one!! She loved it and wanted to speak with me that day! We talked, and I could tell immediately that my book would be in some seriously capable hands. She was SO enthusiastic and had a game plan already–I think she already loved my book as much as I did! And since your agent is pretty much your advocate out there in the pub world, you want one who’s totally in love with your writing! I loved all her ideas, and I was thrilled she didn’t think my MS would need *too* much editing. She offered after a few initial questions–probably to make sure I wasn’t crazy ;). BEST PHONE CONVERSATION EVER. Brianne’s the best: super sweet and funny but also direct and definitely gets things done! The worst part was I couldn’t accept right away!! I knew right away she was the agent for me, but there were other agents who had my work, and I knew the professional thing was to let the others know first.


I sent emails out that day, and a few stepped aside right away, which was great. I got another offer, which was sad. It put me in the position of being the one to send the rejection, and I definitely didn’t like it! I ended up letting the remaining agents (and the one who’d offered) know that I’d already made up my mind before I got any other responses because I knew Brianne would be the best agent for my MS and my writing!


I still can’t believe it!! Luckily, my CPs remind me regularly! Right, Mandie, Jamie, and Kelsey?? 😉


So that’s my story–the calm version. If I’d written this a month ago, it would have been in all caps!! And because I always loved reading this part on QueryTracker, here are my stats with Brianne:

EQ: 10/05

Partial Request: 10/26

Full Request: 12/13

Offer of Representation: 12/17 😀


Comment (6)
  • Mandie Baxter / January 15, 2013, 9:09 am  

    Ah!! LOVE THIS POST SO MUCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Been waiting for it even though I got to hear it all first hand! You are amazing and I can’t wait for your MS to be a real live book!!!!!!!!!!!!!! <3

  • Margo Kelly / January 28, 2013, 4:52 pm  

    Congrats!!! Absolutely loved reading this post! I think Brianne is wonderful, and I hope your ms sells quickly!! 🙂

  • Kathryn Purdie / February 10, 2013, 11:18 am  

    What a fantastic story!! I’m happy to see your perseverance paid off and you snagged such a fabulous agent. Congrats!

  • Clelia Gore & Brianne Johnson – Featured 12 x 12 Agents June 2014 | / May 30, 2014, 1:04 am  

    […] How Jessica Leake became Brianne’s client […]

  • Monique / July 1, 2014, 8:49 pm  

    This is a topic that is near to my heart… Take care!
    Exactly where are your contact details though?

    • Jessica / July 8, 2014, 8:46 am  

      Hi Monique! You can contact me via my contact form located on the lower right-hand side of my website. 🙂