Posted by: Trisha Leigh | March 16, 2011

You Ask, I Tell – My Agent Story

When I signed with Liz Jote, my awesome agent, some people asked me to tell the story. I just realized I’ve never shared, so here it is – my “how I got an agent” story.

The first novel I completed is a mashup of National Treasure and DaVinci Code – a thriller/treasure hunt/adultish type book I didn’t realize was horrible until I joined my first critique group. I did send out several queries for that novel, though, which taught me many things.

Including not to query a book that’s horrible.

I wrote In the Autumn, the book Liz signed me with, in about five weeks between the middle of December 2009 and the end of January 2010. I revised it, I had it beta read, I had some “young adults” read it. I revised it some more. Then I wrote a query letter, which I also revised several times with the help of many authors more talented than me. I sent out lots of queries. Lots and lots and lots of queries. I got some partial requests. I got some full requests (including one from Liz). I started (and finished) another manuscript.

Then last July while I was lounging by the Lake with my friend, I got a phone call. The number didn’t show up, so I didn’t answer. They left a message. It was Liz, telling me she’d read In the Autumn and to please call her back.

The call. I got it.

I freaked out. I panicked. I texted a very good author friend of mine: “An agent called and wants to talk about my book. I don’t know what to do!”

Author friend: “CALL HER BACK.”

Okay. So that should have been obvious.

I called Liz back and we had a long, exciting conversation about my book, future books, what I wanted out of a writing career, what she expected from me, and a bunch of other stuff including a formal offer to represent me and my work.

The conversation put me pretty much over the moon, but I’d been involved in the online publishing community long enough to know proper ettiquette. I informed the other agents who had my queries/partials/fulls that I had been offered representation and gave them the option to finish reading before I made a decision.

Lots of them asked for the time to read. I was shocked and happy and…beyond nervous.

How long should I give them to respond? What if Liz changed her mind before I got back with her? What if I made the wrong decision?

Several people talked me down off several ledges before I signed that contract with Liz and dropped it in the mail. I had other outright offers, some revise and resub offers, and my fair share of “no thanks”. I spoke with three other agents on the phone about my manuscript and their vision for its growth. Chatting on the phone helped me get a feel for what our relationship would be like if I chose to work with them. I also did my own research, spoke with the clients of the interested agents, and read up on their recent deals in Publisher’s Weekly.

In the end, I chose to go with Liz and am thrilled with the results of our collaboration.

Our first conversation kept coming back to me – how easy it was to talk with her, how she listened, how excited she was about the potential of both me and my manuscript – and I knew we could work together. I knew I wanted an agent I could talk to, and one that I trusted to help me improve my material without taking away the nuance that make it mine.

There are so many considerations when choosing an agent, and many of them come down to what feels right to you, and what kind of support works best for your career. No one could help me make my decision, and no one can help you make yours when the call comes through.

Be as prepared as you can be. Let yourself freak out. And always, ALWAYS call someone you trust when you’re out on a ledge.

That’s good advice. Trust me.

What I’m watching right this second: Because I Said So. LOVE this movie. I have such a girl crush on Mandy Moore.*

*In case you have a brain like my mother’s, a girl crush does not mean I’ve changed teams. FYI.



  1. Great story, Trisha!

    I like that you’ve assured your mother…you know.

    • My mother needs to be told many, many things. She’s adorable. Thanks 🙂

  2. Awww. Wonderful story! Sounds like you got yourself a winner. And Liz did too. 🙂

    • Thanks, Linda. I’m happy – you and your agent are pretty cute too 🙂

  3. How exhilarating! It’s a great story. 🙂 Congrats on getting representation!


  4. OMG, Trisha, this is almost verbatim the same story as mine. Except SEND, the book that got me my agent, was my 4th or 5th novel. But I ran the same route; notifying the other agents who’d requested fulls and partials, doing happy jigs when they requested more time to review… the day that phone call came was like winning the lottery. I’ll never forget it.

    And I LOVE Because I Said So. 🙂

    Can’t wait to read In the Autumn.

    • IN THE AUTUMN was my fourth…maybe fifth MS as well, I just left all that out for time’s sake. I think we’re pretty normal stories, to be honest. I’m fine with that 🙂

  5. This story makes me happy.

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