Thursdays with Amanda: How I Became an Agent
Amanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent.
I’m interrupting the regularly scheduled Social Media Critiques to wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving.
I’ve been an agent for about two and a half years now, but I’ve only been full time for one of those years. So today, I’m reflecting on how blessed I am to have been doing this “book thing” full time for a full year.
I met Chip about four years ago at an author book signing. I was working as an Admissions Counselor at a university where he was a visiting professor. My friend, who happened to be a student there, kept telling me about this big time agent who was on campus and how I needed to meet him. But despite it being a very small school, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out who he was.
So the only way to meet him was to trap him at an author book signing. At the time, I (ashamedly) didn’t know who the author was (Chip tells me it was Lisa Samson), and I honestly didn’t know very much about Chip other than the fact that my friend told me he was epic. So, we winged it. We walked in to the store, found Chip, and then I took a breath, walked up, and introduced myself.
He said something sarcastic.
I said something sarcastic.
The rest is history.
I started doing odd jobs for him (basically all the stuff he didn’t want to do himself), and in 2009 I was hired on as a part time assistant. In 2010, I was promoted to agent (though I maintained a full time job at a marketing agency). And last November, I quit my marketing job to pursue agenting full time.
When people see me and think that I’m like 22 years old (I’ll be 29 in December), they always ask me “How do you become an agent?” as if there’s some application you can fill out or secret fast track to success. The truth (as this story shows) is that it’s just a matter of being in the right place at the right time with the right skill set. Oh, and then you have to make the right impression.
And that’s what so much of this business is about, whether you’re on this side of the desk or not. It’s about relationships and proving yourself knowledgeable, skilled and likable.
I’m so very thankful to have me Chip those years ago. And I’m thankful that he saw something in me that told him I could make a go of this.
So what’s your industry story? How did you get connected and who saw that special something in YOU that made all the difference?
Congrats on your year of full-time agenting! (Is that a word?!) Fun story to hear…
Well, a belated “Happy Thanksgiving” to everyone 🙂 I’m gradually picking at some older emails and came upon this one today. I’m so glad 🙂 I love hearing about how people end up doing what they do. Every time I attend a writers event, whether it’s a conference, Craft Day, whatever, if I’m given the opportunity (usually sitting at lunch or dinner), I inevitably ask, “How did you become an agent?” “How did you become an editor? What led you there?” Just as with any other journey in life,” the paths have all been different and fascinating. I have to say though, in my opinion—sarcasm being the “seed” is “icing” 🙂
Totally commenting late on this, Amanda, but it was fun to read your story. Susan May Warren is my “Chip.” I attended one of her MBT retreats–one of my first forays into really doing this writing thing–and her teaching, support and encouragement made all the difference. I don’t know if she saw something in me or what it was if she did…but I know she has championed my writing at different times and I’m so incredibly grateful.
And then there’s you, too! You are an awesome agent and I love knowing you’re on my side [cue the Nationwide jingle]… 🙂
Love the story with you and Chip!
My story? A writing conference, an editor who changed his mind, and being in the right place (lounge) at the right time (after hours) with the right agent. Love working with you!
That was a fun journey to take with you. Thanks for reliving. I was so surprised by “He said something sarcastic”…you’re talking about Chip, right?…
But, while his lips were moving, he was obviously assessing talent. Congrats to you both!
Yes, I can see that happening … he said something sarcastic … 🙂
Of course, Amanda leaves out the fact that she’s smarter than me. She knows words, has great book sense, and is good at recognizing talent. Plus, she works hard (something that’s important to me, since it takes hard-working, self-motivated people to do well in this business). The key to being successful as a business owner is to find great people who are smarter than you, then when they have big success you get to stand around and pretend you actually contributed to their success.
Oh, no; how will I ever make it? I have had the sarcasm beat out of me.
Happy Thanksgiving, Amanda. Thanks for sharing your story. How fun to learn that sarcasm is the ticket to landing an agenting job. *grin*
My agent, Rachelle Gardner, was the first publishing pro to see something special in my writing. She served as a final-round judge in an RWA chapter-level contest. She requested the full, I sent it, and she zapped me an email the very next day saying she wanted to discuss the possibility of representation. I accepted the offer on the eve of Christmas Eve in 2009. That was a way cool present, one I didn’t think could be topped–but it was.
Six weeks later I learned that my story needed a wee bit o’ work: I had to ditch the final three-quarters of it and start over. I spent several months doing that and sent the new-and-improved version of the story to Rachelle. She shopped it, and I got a contract for Christmas in 2010. 🙂