Amanda Luedeke

February 4, 2016

Thursdays with Amanda: My Path to Becoming an Agent


1People are always curious to know how I became an agent. Did I intern with the agency? Did I apply and get hired? Did I go through a special program? Did Chip owe my dad a favor?

I’ve found there are usually two paths to working in publishing. One involves getting the right internships and then getting hired on afterward. And the other involves just being in the right place at the right time.

For me it all happened at a book signing in 2008. In Fort Wayne, Indiana.

I was working as an admissions counselor at a university at which Chip 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.

(Now, in retrospect, I had seen him around campus. But with his goatee and pressed dress shirt, I assumed he was the new Pastoral Ministries prof.)

So the only way to be sure to meet him, my friend decided, was to trap him at an author book signing.

At the time, I (ashamedly) didn’t recognize the name of the author holding the book signing (Chip tells me it was Lisa Samson), and I honestly didn’t know very much about Chip or the role of an agent. But I DID know that my friend had told me he was epic. And that he had worked with Britney Spears’s mom. Which, let’s be honest, was enough to get me really wanting this to happen.

I mean, what else could come of it than me being Brit Brit’s bestie?

So, off we went. We walked in to the store; my friend located Chip; and then I took a breath, walked up, and introduced myself.

He said something sarcastic.

I said something sarcastic.

The rest is history.

Okay not really … but it definitely got things rolling.

I started doing odd jobs for him (basically all the stuff he didn’t want to do himself). I researched publishers, wrote synopses, checked flight info, and more. I didn’t always feel like doing it. I mean I had a day job, after all. A day job that required quite a bit of travel. I didn’t always feel like managing a second career. But I also didn’t feel like pursuing a traditional career for the rest of my life. I wanted to be my own boss. I wanted to work on books. I wanted to utilize as many of my talents as possible.

So it was either put in a bit of hard work with the possibility of reaping a great reward. Or put in no hard work and reap no reward.

For three years I juggled agenting with my full time job. And then in November of 2011, I went full time as an agent.

Does the story stop there? Not at all. My story is still being written. But now you know how it all started, and how important relationships are in this business. Or how important CHIP is in this business.

Seriously. If you could have your pick of someone to believe in you, he’d be a good one.

What’s your industry story? How did you get connected and who saw that special something in YOU that made all the difference?

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  • Robin Patchen says:

    Great story, Amanda. I love your determination to follow your dream, even if it meant stalking Chip at a book signing. A lot of folks don’t have that kind of confidence.

  • Susan Sleeman says:

    Loved your story, Amanda. Especially about Chip saying something
    sarcastic and you firing something sarcastic back at him. He does have a
    wonderful sense of humor!

  • jillmariewilliamson says:

    Yay! And then he dragged you to Oregon for your first writer’s conference. And then he introduced us! For years, I was always slightly terrified of Chip, but then I sang Karaoke with him. Jerry Lee Lewis. Great Balls of Fire. Good times. 🙂

  • Melissa Tagg says:

    Awww, this was fun to read! Yay for Chip being sarcastic and you being sarcastic and the rest being history. From a personal standpoint, I’m selfishly glad that happened because I probably wouldn’t know you or have the fun of working with you if he hadn’t tugged you into the industry.

    I’m thankful to have several people who saw enough in me to help me get connected within the industry–including you, Chip, Raela, other authors. But probably the person who most took me under her wing, helped nurture my storytelling and pointed me all the right directions–Susan May Warren. Before I even knew about agents and conferences and pitching and proposals, she’s the one who just went above and beyond to invest in me, taught me how to actually, like, craft a story…and then what to do with it once it was on paper. So thankful for her! And for so many encouraging and helpful people in this industry…

  • Heather Frey Blanton says:

    He said something sarcastic? Chip? Noooo. 🙂 At least he’s nice to me now and answers my emails in great detail. Took me a few years to earn his respect. LOL

  • Joe says:

    Hi Amanda, I haven’t been here in a while, one day job computer network problem and computer crash after another last year has kept me close to home, but I’m glad to see you’re blogging again. Your stuff is always useful and almost always funny.

    My anecdote isn’t an industry story, certainly not about anyone seeing anything special or connecting me, but it did tell me I had some “game” as the kids used to say. I met at Chip at ACFW in Minneapolis in 2008. I’d been shopping a controversial ms, now published as “The Diaries of Pontius Pilate” and gotten nowhere. Now I know its because it wasn’t “theologically correct,” but then I wondered if I really could write.

    I sat at Chip’s table for lunch. He insulted me. I hissed at him. He grinned and maybe I did too. We were interrupted by some real Amish ladies in real Amish garb and afterward he asked “where were we?” I said, “you were insulting me.” Then I looked at the two or three Amish ladies – this was at the height of the Amish hysteria – and asked, “Since suburban women are here selling Amish fiction, are you ladies selling suburban fiction?”

    Chip chocked, leaned over and said “send me a synopsys and the first three chapters.” In the end he wrote back, said he’d read it through twice and concluded he didn’t know what to do with it or where to place it, but I should keep writing and shopping it for another agent who would help me “move it forward.” I wasn’t impressed until I searched him on line and read all the “Chip’s so mean, he told me I’m no writer, I should become a garbage man” postings.

    I thought, well, he didn’t say become a garbage man, maybe I do have something. Three months later, I had an Agent.


  • Pamela Gossiaux says:

    After I finished my first manuscript, a Christian non-fiction book, I put it in a drawer. I had a preschooler and a baby and was too tired to look for a publisher. I said a prayer and told God that if He wanted it to get published, He’d have to please help me. 🙂 My girlfriend took me to a business women’s dinner just to “get me out”. Who did I meet there? A woman who owned a publishing company with a Christian imprint. I wasn’t even looking for a publisher at the time! So I submitted a proposal and have two books published with her. It was a God thing! Praise the Lord!

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