Book News

How I Got My Agent


I am beyond thrilled to have accepted an offer of representation from the amazing Jessica Alvarez of BookEnds Literary.

I wish I had some wisdom to impart on the subject of how to go about getting an agent. But, beyond “Write a book, submit it to respected agents who represent your genre, and hope you find someone who loves it,” I’m afraid I’ve got nothing.

How did this happen? I only starting querying the manuscript in July.

I don’t send out big batches of queries. I research each agent until I’m pretty sure I would love to work with them. (Obviously you don’t know how well your personalities will mesh until you interact a bit.) So, in that three month period, I sent out a total of three queries. Of the three, one agent sent me a lovely, encouraging rejection, saying she really liked what she’d read and urging me to keep querying. The second response was Jessica’s. And she wanted to call me.

I can’t tell you how it felt to read those words. All aspiring writers long for The Call. Was this it? The email said she liked the manuscript but a call from an agent isn’t necessarily the call. I know because I googled it.

Then I visited Jessica’s twitter which I’d been stalking for ages and saw this tweet:

Could she be talking about my manuscript? Could she have liked it to this degree? And if she had, did that mean she wanted to represent me?

Because it was half-term and my 6 year old was home, I suggested we talk in the evening, which meant I had to wait hours to find out. And as you can imagine, it was all I could think about.

I’m happy to say the call was The Call.

I already knew I wanted to work with Jessica and the fact that she was lovely on the phone made me even more certain. She seemed to be offering representation. She even said point-blank “I’d love to work on this with you.” You’d think at that point, I’d have believed her but after we’d talked for another ten minutes, it still hadn’t sunk in.

“So, just to clarify,” I said, “Are you offering representation?”

There was a short pause during which I suspect Jessica questioned my sanity.

“Yes,” she said.

Reader, I’m not sure – I was bright red and shaking at this point – but I think I might have actually said the word “Hooray.” (I sometimes channel Emma Thompson when I’m nervous, or at least I like to think so.)

I asked for time to reflect because all the advice says you should. But I wouldn’t have queried Jessica if I didn’t think she was wonderful, and it was so hard to keep that ‘yes’ in. I made myself think things through seriously but I confess I only managed a couple of hours before I emailed to accept her offer.

Now, four days later, I’m still walking on air.

2 thoughts on “How I Got My Agent”

  1. Hi Julia.

    Just wondering what the “twist” is? I don’t usually read historical novels but bearing in mind I know you and would like to support you by reading your book when it is published, (notice I say “when”!) I may be persuaded to change the habit of a lifetime.


    1. Hi Norma,

      Thank you. It’s lovely that you want to read my work.

      I guess the twist comes from my “voice”. It’s hard to describe without actually showing you a sample of my work. I’ll talk to my agent about putting up some extracts (beyond the tiny ones in some of my older posts).

      Beyond voice, I try to play around with the historical romance conventions a bit. (This is not to say that I’m the only writer than does this. All my favourites do.)

      If you don’t read romance, then you’re probably not aware that there are certain rules:

      1. There must be a happy ending.

      and also

      2. Never kill the dog.

      These are sacrosanct and I will never break either one. But everything else is open to negotiation.

      I like to write about strong believable characters in a setting that’s as historically accurate as I can make it. As a reader, I like books that have a lot of angst and drama, but I also like humour. And it’s so hard to find both in one romance. I *hope* I’ve managed to include all of those things in my stories.


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