How I Got My Literary Agent

Pitch Wars is a beautiful thing. You can read about it here:

Here is my experience, which led to me getting an agent!!

1. August 17 — I applied to Pitch Wars during the submission phase (as described on Brenda Drake’s blog), submitting my query letter and the first chapter of my manuscript (ms). Over the next two weeks, I get an email—the mentor in question passed my submission to another mentor. I get an email from that mentor asking for a synopsis. I open the email at 4 AM and realize I have not written a synopsis yet. I frantically write one, because who needs sleep anyway? I send it. I get another email—the mentor in question passed my submission to yet ANOTHER MENTOR who seems excited about my work. My arms are made of electricity.

2. September 1 — Out of the 1600 applicants, I was one of 125 people to be chosen to participate. The fantastic Laura Salters chose me as her mentee! For two months, we work on my ms. (PSA: Laura Salters is a beautiful beast of revision and all-around awesomeness!) Revisions, revisions, and more revisions! Things I knew I sort of wanted to change collide with things I didn’t even think of changing!

3. September 2 – October 30 — Over the next two months, I spend a lot of time in a secret Facebook group for the 125 mentees where we support, help, and complain to each other about everything and anything and anxiety. We share anxieties, excitements, methods of revision. The community is fantastic and supportive. I spend a lot of time back-and-forth-ing with Laura on changes and ideas. My stomach has transformed to butterflies and soda bubbles.

4. October 30 — All 125 participants turn in their 50-word pitch and the first 250 words of their ms. We all hold our breaths and have heart attacks and anxiety-panic-run-around-and-scream fiascos. This is where the writing community and support from mentors come into play in a big way.

5. November 3 — The Agent Round begins. Over 75 literary agents swoop down upon the 125 submissions. They leave comments requesting any number of materials from the author: query letter, synopsis, partial manuscript, full manuscript, firstborn, 4/5 of their soul, and a bar of chocolate. (Ok, not those last three. Probably.) Laura and I spend copious amounts of time stalking the blog post comments section, freaking out whenever someone makes a request. A lot of messages are exchanged, mostly IN CAPS LOCK.

6. November 3-5 — Over the next 3 days, I get 22 requests from agents who want to read a partial or full manuscript. That puts me in second place for the highest number of requests. My heart is made of jelly and my brain is toast. My skeleton is probably peanut butter. I send materials to agents as they are requested since Nov 3. I receive lovely updates from some agents that they’re reading, they’re enjoying it. I must restart my heart at least four times.

7. November 5 — I receive an email from Pete Knapp with New Leaf Literary & Media, asking to set up a call. Three people from New Leaf requested to read, and I had received lovely updates that they were all reading and enjoying. Time is now a construct of insanity and anxiety. I spend most of my time pacing and making dinosaur sounds. I set up the call for later today and caution Pete that the only thing that will stop me from making the call is a pack of velociraptors. Pete is strangely and fantastically not perturbed by the involvement of velociraptors.

8. November 5 — I email and inform Pete that the velociraptors are interfering, and we reschedule our call for a half hour later. He is not perturbed by my repeated mention of velociraptors. I have The Call with Pete, and he speaks about my book with enthusiasm, thematic understanding, and excitement that rivals my own. (I don’t want to say he won in the Excitement Level Contest, but let’s just say that neither of us could really contain the levels of energy we were trying to suppress.) Pete officially offers representation! I swoon, have a heart attack, swoon again. I am made of pure energy.

9. November 6 — I send a nudge to the other Agents that requested materials during Pitch Wars, giving a deadline of the following Thursday evening (about a week) to read and see if they want to offer as well.

10. November 7-10 — I do ALL the research. On the agency, on the agents. I become a BOSS of phone calls. I talk to at least six new people. Clients of agents, coworkers of agents, the whole shebang.

11. November 10-12 — I get 3 other offers from agents by this point. I do MORE research. Talk to MORE people. I am now the Master of Phone Calls. Gone are the days of my youthier youth where I avoided ordering pizza because having conversations with other humans was scary and nervous-making.

12. November 13 — I have another call with Pete. I had told him I would likely take the weekend to do more research. But by this time, I’ve already made up my mind. We have a lovely long chat, and I basically SPRING IT ON HIM LIKE A BEAR VELOCIRAPTOR TRAP that I’ve already chosen to accept his offer! I am somewhere up in the clouds, bobbing along like the amorphous non-corporeal gob of bubbly energy that I now am.

13. November 14 — I am inundated with adulting-tasks. Like following up with the other offering agents and declining their offers. (PS: It is weird to say no to people who you know love your work.) Like evaluating and discussing a contract. Like trying not to fizzle into non-existence due to an overabundance of energy. (After this point, I get two emails from other agents inquiring if I’d made a decision yet, but I was already in love with Pete and the entire New Leaf team and nothing short of a horde of velociraptors was going to pull me away.)

14. November 14-19 — It takes me a week to go over the contract to make sure I understand it all. I blame some of this on my meticulous, overwhelming desire to just know things, and the other on a rational Adult-Type-Reason of making sure I understand the legal aspects of things before I jump on-board. Being an adult is hard. Throughout all of this, Pete is patient and walks me through every step.

15. November 19 — At long last, I understand all the Legalese of the contract (sidenote: a contract, aka Agency Agreement, is technically written in English, but it’s not the English language we love and know. It’s a mysterious tangle of terminology and nightmarish syntax), and I inform them of my utter excitement of signing it. An email, a phone call, and some signatures later, and…

16. November 20 — … and I Post Office like an ADULT and send off the contract! I am OFFICIALLY REPRESENTED by New Leaf Literary & Media, and Pete and I have a long and fabulous road of camaraderie and velociraptors ahead! I am still made of electricity and bubbles and soda and jelly toast, and I can’t wait to see what happens next!!


If you have any questions, feel free to ask! If I can answer it, I will!


9 thoughts on “How I Got My Literary Agent

  1. Rebecca: Congratulations and thanks for sharing this lovely description of your process. I am now fearfully anticipating the day when I participate in the Pitch Wars, and am transformed into a joyous jelly-worm.

    • Pitch Wars is really phenomenal. If you’re interested in learning more about them, there are three blogs you can check out! One is hosted by me ( where you can ask the 2015 crew questions–feel free to ask about PW. One is hosted by another 2015 mentee ( and has occasional blog posts done by various mentees. The third is a blog hosted by the mentors (
      Resources galore! Jelly Worm is a serious condition, but you can treat it with gummy worms. Probably.

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