Agent Tales: An Exercise in Irony

Hello you awesome peoples!

There are a lot of very bizarre moments that occurred on my quest from the first query to the day I signed with a faboo agent. This story is my favorite, and I am damn near giddy to share it with you.

If you’ve ever been in the query trenches, chances are strong that at some point, you came across your Dream Agent.  One that you just are totally smitten with and have a lovely vision that the two of you will ride off into the literary sunset together selling all the books until the end of your days.

And if you are like me, you had several throughout the process depending on when your rejection letter from said Potential Dream Agent came.

I think I had probably four or five Dream Agent choices during my querying days.  And I was rejected by every single one of them.

Even the one that I eventually signed with.

Back in March or so of this last year, I had been querying my YA/Fantasy and was getting really into Twitter.  I had been following the lovely Sarah LaPolla for a few months and was a big fan.  She had become a Dream Agent to me.  I loved her online presence, I loved her honesty in the business, and I loved how passionate she was about her career.  Total Dream Agent.

It was also around this time I decided to sign up for the Midwest Writer’s Workshop, at which Miss LaPolla was going to be.  At the Workshop, you can sign up to pitch in person to an agent, and I happily signed up for Sarah.

I’m not even going to lie here.  Pretty much the main reason I signed up for the Workshop was to have a chance to pitch to an agent in person, and the fact that it was going to be Sarah had me feeling all dancey.

Being the slightly impetuous person that I am, I sent a query to Sarah for my YA a few months before the Workshop.

She rejected me with a quickness.

(In her defense here, my YA query letter was BAAAAAAD.  Like, it was a very unfortunate query.)

Feeling ever so slightly crushed and wondering what the hell was I supposed to do about the Workshop, I Tweeted in her general direction asking if I could still pitch to her in person even though she had rejected my query.

Yeah, she told me no.  She said there was no reason to since we knew we weren’t a good fit.

You should imagine me here doing a big time ugly cry.  It was a bummer of a day.  This had come at the end of a query process for this book that had taken it right out of me.  It was probably my lowest moment as a writer where I was thinking that was it.  I was never going to get anywhere and I was going to end up that sad old lady who had spent the first fifty years of her life having never accomplished anything regarding her dream of writing.

Then my kids would shake their heads at me in disgust for having wasted my life and being a failure.  Add in lots of emo cliches here because I was rolling in them.

Cut to the conference.  I signed up at the last minute to pitch to another agent who wasn’t on Twitter and I didn’t know as well, but still liked what I saw through online research. And I had switched over to my Women’s Fiction MS so I was like, “BRING IT ON WORKSHOP!”

The Workshop was a bizarre and unfathomably awesome experience for me.  Seriously, it was easily one of the greatest experiences of my life.

While there, I was preparing to pitch to my selected agent when Sarah wandered by.  I was certain she didn’t remember me because, well, agents have more important things to do that keep track of insane Fizzy people on Twitter.

So I said a happy hello and shared my admiration of her from Twitterville. She didn’t even rep Women’s Fiction, so I didn’t have any pressure to pitch to her or anything, so it was a fun, easy going chat.

I purposely left out the part where she mildly crushed my soul by saying I shouldn’t pitch to her.  Because, well, why the hell would I *ever* want to bring that up, yeah?

Oddly, fantastically, she told me that she did know who I was and that I was a Twitter favorite of hers.  I was so flattered I could barely squeal out a thank you.

Extremely random and amazing things happened that led to a few hours later all four agents at the Workshop, including Sarah, to request my MS.

Fast forward past months of revisions, phone calls, emails, Summer strokes and so on.  I sign with Sarah.  CONFETTI! SQUEEES!  ERMAHGERDS!!!

After I had officially accepted her offer, I waited a few days and then sent her an email.  I had to confess.  I had been hiding this past moment of ours because I was convinced that if I reminded her that she had rejected me she would suddenly think, “Oh my GAWD, I remember now!  YOU SUCKED!” and then run away screaming.

So, confess I did.

And wrote back, she did.

Turned out?  She totally *DID* remember telling me not to pitch to her.  She replied and said that when she remembered while I sat there on the floor at the Workshop as we mutually fangirled with each other and she suddenly realized that I was the one she had told to not even bother pitching to her, she wanted to die right there.

So, there it is.  In the span of about six months, I queried her on one project, had a slightly crushing rejection. Went to a Workshop, met her, somehow got a request on a different project, and walked away signed by my Dream Agent.

How.  The.  Hell?

Aside from the ironic hilarity that is this tale, I am hoping that someone who was gutted by a rejection by their own Dream Agent takes from this that baby, it ain’t over until it’s over!  Just because this project didn’t woo them doesn’t mean something else won’t some day. And hey, if it doesn’t, that just means this wasn’t your REAL Dream Agent!  Another project could land you in the arms of the Real Dream Agent and all the sunset walkings will be had.

Admittedly, this is a strange story, but hey, this is a kooky as hell business.  Strange stuff happens all the time.

Never let a rejection get you super down because well, hey, sometimes the evident end might genuinely be the beginning of something amazing.

Or you can just stumble through one clusterfuck after another like I do and keep looking for those silver linings!

Until next time,

Peace, Love and Irony!!


  1. Great Story Fizz!! As someone who lives deep in the trenches of irony-silver linings are my thing, I seek them. Love this tale, and Congratulations to Both of you.

  2. Oh how I love this blog! So funny and a BEAKER GIF. Life=made. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  3. These types of stories always make me feel better about the querying process. Plus it’s hilarious. Thanks for sharing this!

  4. Hey, I could totally see this kind of thing happening with my PitchWars mentor…

  5. Well, it *does* make for a great story. 😀

  6. Well, you already know I think this story is fabulous…but I had to comment and tell you that these are the BEST. GIFS. EVER. The peanut butter one! Robin Hood! Beaker! Yoda!

    You’ve outdone yourself, ma’am.

  7. I really needed to read this today. Thank you for sharing!

  8. Summer, I feel honored to have been at your table (literally) during part of your amazing journey to finding your agent. Even then it seemed you two were a perfect match. It’s nice to hear that dreams really do come true. Keep up the good work. You’re an inspiration to the rest of us.

  9. This is the best agent story I have ever heard. Congratulations on landing your dream agent. You have guts and that counts for so much. I am happy for you. I truly enjoyed your blog post and I am glad I found your blog, (I am new to your blog). I am sure that your book will be a huge success. You have a very unique and entertaining voice and from what I keep hearing and reading, that is on the short list of what captivates agents and hooks reader. Best of luck and I will be back to read more, now that I found you.

  10. I shall never surrender! *Braveheart yells* *charges into query trenches*

  11. Can I tell you I love, love, love Sarah? She’s totally a dream agent – ‘cuz she’s super funny and super cool and yet, super professional and knows her #$&*#&*(@!!! I will tell you I queried her – got a full request – got an AMAZING ‘pass’ (i know, right?) BUT!!! Her letter back, her reasons why, her suggestions and her all her comments were incredibly helpful and motivating and plain ole’ wonderful. I now have an MS so much better than the one I originally sent to her.

    And I have to say – as much as I’d LOVE to work with her – I gotta be honest. I’m happy she passed because it pushed me to a whole new level of creativity and writing. Yep, I’m a fan girl – of an agent who passed on my work. HAHA. Maybe one day I’ll see her and say, “Hey, wazzup? Wanna watch Dr. Who? Oh, me? I’m that girl with the purple MS – wait, what? You want to see it again? Hmmmm. Well, if you insist.” HAHA
    Anyways- thanks for sharing your story. Congratulations! 🙂

  12. Awesome story! Thanks for sharing that!

  13. Ahhhh, I love this story behind the story! You are filled with courage, and look where it got you! WOOT!

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