#PitchWars Debrief and How I Got My Agent


After nine (9) years of working toward traditional publication, I at long last have secured professional representation. I am absolutely thrilled to announce that I am now a client of Stringer Literary, run by the fabulous Marlene Stringer.

Here’s how it happened:

I entered Pitch Wars and was chosen to be mentored by the wonderful Charlie N. Holmberg. Charlie’s agent is … guess who? Yes, Marlene Stringer. Although Marlene was not participating in the agent round of Pitch Wars, Charlie emailed her the link to my entry. Marlene requested the full. After the contest ended and, as per the rules, I first sent materials to those agents who had requested them during the agent round, I then sent her my MS. She read it in an incredibly fast five days (which felt like an eternity, believe me), and then emailed to set up a phone call to discuss possible representation. My heart leapt and my nervous stomachaches immediately disappeared. Although I was still paranoid that Marlene would decide not to offer after “meeting” me over the phone, it turned out that my fears were groundless. The conversation went great. I was equipped with Jim McCarthy’s helpful list of questions to ask an agent (find it here), but I needed hardly any of them, since Marlene answered almost everything before I could get to it. She was both professional and easy to talk to, and a nervous young (relatively speaking …) writer couldn’t have asked for a better experience. She ended by offering representation and giving me three business days (which, since the Thanksgiving holiday intervened, equaled a calendar week) to respond.* This is a very short time, not industry standard, and earned me a couple of testy emails from other agents who had yet to open the attachments I’d sent them. BUT it was a great indicator that Marlene was the right fit for me. She works hard and fast and expects the people on her team to keep up. Left entirely to myself, I tend to meander, but if there’s one thing grad school taught me, it’s that I produce well under deadlines. So, after receiving a couple of rejections and a couple of “I just couldn’t finish” from other agents, I joyfully sent my acceptance to Marlene on the morning of Monday, November 28. And that’s how I got my agent.

I guess my final word on Pitch Wars is that you just don’t know what the experience will be for you. For some, the most important things become networking and finding critique partners in the online community of mentees. For others, the agent showcase really does make their dreams come true. But for me, the essential thing was my relationship with my mentor—I wrote and behaved as well and as professionally as I knew how, and the result was that Charlie was willing to use her own connections and influence to push me out of the slush pile into the notice of a great agent she thought would connect with my writing.

Do your best, be your best, and when the time is right, your ship will come in.


*Why, you ask, if I got an agent back at the beginning of December, am I only now blogging about it? Let’s just say the holiday season witnessed a homeowner crisis of such epic proportions that I’ll probably write a story about it someday.


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