Are you in a rush? If so, here’s the five second/five word version:
If you have a little more time and want the full version, well then pull up a chair. I can say with 100% certainty that I would not have an agent today if it weren’t for SCBWI and the lovely ladies behind Whatcha’ Reading Now.
I’ve always written, but it wasn’t until I had a baby in late 2009 and quit my job as an attorney that I decided to make the leap from hobbyist writer to serious writer. I floundered around on my own for a while until I decided I needed capital H-E-L-P. I joined SCBWI and through that organization I met my critique group, a/k/a the WRN girls. The WRN girls taught me more about writing in a few short months than I’d been able to figure out on my own over the course of years. They taught me the ins and outs of the publishing industry, they taught me about editors, they taught me how to network. It was like children’s writing/publishing bootcamp.
And then the email announcing the January 2011 SCBWI Florida conference went out. I told my critique group I didn’t think I was going to go, and they said Codswallup! I caved and signed up, but then told them I wasn’t going to register for a ten-page critique, and they said Codswallup! So I signed up for a critique. They cheered! I felt confident, I felt excited, I felt ready to conquer the conference!
A little while before the conference, I got an email telling me I’d been matched with Rubin Pfeffer of East/West Literary Agency for the critique. And like any good
internet stalker writer would do, I unleashed the power of Google! This was the first link I clicked on. And there went the confidence. Because, honestly, that’s kind of an intimidating resume.
The conference arrived, and I attended the Friday novel intensive. As part of the intensive, you were supposed to submit your first page, which would be critiqued aloud, albeit anonymously. I submitted a different version of my first page, something I wanted to try on for size because I thought it might be a stronger opening. And you guys. YOU GUYS. I got ripped. to. shreds. They threw me one pity compliment, but the rest was brutal.
Remaining confidence = out the window. Rubin had the original first page, not the disastrous reworked first page, but I was still dreading the critique. It was with great trepidation that I sat down across from him Saturday afternoon during my session … but then he started saying glowingly positive things about the first page. And then he started saying glowingly positive things about the next nine pages. And then he asked me to send him the whole manuscript. And then I died a little because OMG.
That’s basically it. Several weeks later, I got an email from Rubin telling me he wanted to represent me. We talked on the phone the next day, and that was that!
So really, I have agent because of SCBWI, Kerry, Michelle, Jill and Kristina! I completely recommend joining the organization. I completely recommend joining a critique group. I completely recommend going to conferences. It works!