Friday, February 7, 2014

Acquiring an Agent by Katherine Reay

Katherine Reay

You may have been told that it’s important to sign with a literary agent. But what do you do? Where do you go to find the right one? Today, author Katherine Reay shares her personal experience.  Her story is another example of how God has an individual plan for each writer’s journey. ~ Dawn

Acquiring an Agent

When thinking about encouragement, I stumbled upon what most of us find or found discouraging: Acquiring one’s first agent. I queried many agents and received 38 rejection letters. Another author once praised my tenacity – that’s one word for it. But the reality is that, after you’ve put in all the work, it’s discouraging – and even upsetting – when you feel like you can’t get a foot in the door that fills your thoughts and dreams.

So that’s where we begin…. The process can be heartbreaking. Yet I do feel that if we are called by God to write – and we must be or we wouldn’t set ourselves up for such pain – then we write.  And we trust. We trust that, in some way and in some form, He will use our words and our obedience for Him.

My story is one I share because I can’t boast about it or take credit for it. God showed up, powerfully and with a sense of humor. The story is the encouragement…

In the summer of 2012, an editor I had met at a conference expressed interest in Dear Mr. Knightley. She sent a contract for a simple, brief offering – and yet it was 40 pages long and intimidating, especially without an agent to help translate. I was overwhelmed and discouraged. Within the hour of the contract’s arrival in my inbox, a newsletter from a writers’ group also arrived.  I reluctantly opened it when I really wanted to skip the newsletter and stop writing, forever. But upon opening the email, I found my picture, randomly chosen from a 2010 conference, staring back at me from the titled article “Why You Need An Agent.” Oh my…

I immediately wrote the head of the group and begged him to reply – after all, he’d used my picture. He graciously wrote back stating that I should not sign any contract without an agent.

Unwilling to return to my rejection pile, I searched my shelves and pulled down favorite books. Out of ten I respected, one agent’s name came up three times in the acknowledgments. I went to the agency website and found his picture. I read nothing because in that moment I heard loud and clear “That’s your agent.”

I then questioned – as I am wont to do.  “Seriously, God? One shot. That’s all I’ve got in me. This is the guy?”

Peace said “Yes.”

I called him. (Who does that?)

After leaving a frenetic three-minute message, I read the agency guidelines. It required one to be published to submit; it represented household names; it only received mailed queries from recommended authors. Dismayed, I realized that I’d already broken every rule.
Yet three hours later, he called me back.

I was so stunned I could answer few of his questions succinctly. At the end, he said “I am not taking you on, but I will read the manuscript and the contract and I’ll get back to you on Monday.” This was a Thursday. 

He didn’t call Monday and I thought I’d blown it, but he emailed the next day with “I’ll call Thursday. Hold tight.”

On Thursday, his opening line was “Where have you been?” I replied, “I’ve always been here.” He then said, “I don’t need new clients. I have a very stable clientele. I take on one to two each year at most… but I want to work with you.”

Two weeks and a forty-page proposal later, we met in Dallas at the 2012 ACFW Conference and pitched Dear Mr. Knightley to anyone and everyone who would listen.  And now… You can buy the book.

This is a “success” story because God pulled the pieces together. I did not. I was discouraged, frustrated and close to giving up. And it isn’t a usual story – technically I broke a healthy number of industry rules. But that’s my point. The journey to publication is as unique as the stories we write and we write those to stories to connect with and share a big God – and with Him all things are possible.

So keep writing, keep editing, keep seeking, keep searching and… keep trusting.

Thank you for reading. And please tell me your thoughts… You can reach me on Twitter @katherine_reay, on Facebook at /katherinereaybooks or on my website I would love to hear from you. 


We trust that He will use our words and our obedience for Him. Click to tweet.

God showed up, powerfully and with a sense of humor. Click to tweet.

The journey to publication is as unique as the stories we write. Click to tweet.

Author Katherine Reay shares how God provided an agent.  Click to tweet.

Growing up in the foster care system, Samantha Moore found her best friends in the works of Austen, Dickens, and the Bronte sisters. The problem is that she now relates to others more comfortably as Elizabeth Bennet and Jane Eyre than as herself. While pursuing a graduate journalism degree at Northwestern University, Sam struggles to find her own voice and lay down those safe hiding places. And soon she begins to write her own story – by giving it to a complete stranger. 

Katherine Reay is a wife, mother, runner, and avid chocolate consumer. She has enjoyed a life-long affair with the works of Jane Austen and her contemporaries and, at the encouragement of her family, recently began an affair with food – cooking that is – and this new passion has strongly influenced her next novel, Lizzy and Jane, which will release in October 2014.

After living all across the country and a few stops in Europe, Katherine and her family live in Seattle, WA. You can also find Katherine at and lurking somewhere within the pages of her first novel, Dear Mr. Knightley.