Getting “The Call”

August 13, 2009 at 10:20 AM | Posted in Agents, Authors, Life, Publishing, Queries, Writing Advice, YA | 11 Comments
Me signing the agency contract

Me signing the agency contract

For some strange reason, blogging about getting an agent is much harder than just talking about it. I think I have this idea that when I blog I must sound professional – whereas when I’m gushing in real life I can say something along the lines of, “OHMYGOSH she is so cool and I’m signing the contract right now and it’s freaking got my name on it and HOLY COW she’s got some really cool ideas for revisions and I just finished them and we’re doing one more round of edits and then I think we’re going to be submitting to editors EEK!!!”

I fail at professionalism.

*takes a deep breath*

*tries again*

I got my first offer of representation on July 16, while I was vacationing with my family in North Carolina. A week and a half later, I had three offers from three fabulous agents – which was quite possibly the most surreal experience on the planet. However, I really felt an instant connection with Michelle, who was funny and friendly and had a vision for the book that blew my mind. So, on July 27, I officially signed with Michelle Andelman at Lynn Franklin Associates.

And that, my friends, is the short version of that story.

To get the long version, you’d have to sift through two years’ worth of journal entries; many a six a.m. writing session; and several hysterical conversations with friends in which I repeated over and over, “I SUCK! I SUCK!” You would have to flip through two writing notebooks full of character charts and plot notes, many half-finished novels, and more than one terrifying moment when I thought, “Maybe it’s true – maybe I can’t do it.

You want the truth? You want the whole story? I didn’t know if I could do it. I didn’t know if I could finish a book, or write something I was proud of, or get an agent. And even now that I have an agent who’s taking a chance on my work, there are still a lot of things I don’t know.

There is nothing wrong with not knowing. Nothing wrong with saying, “I’m not sure I like this. Maybe I don’t want to be a professional writer. I still haven’t decided yet. I don’t know if this is the genre for me…”

But there is something terribly, devastatingly wrong with telling yourself “There’s no way in hell.”

Your first book may not be published. Or even your second book. Or your third. Or your fourth. But I’m one of those annoyingly optimistic people who believes that there’s a way. There is always a way.

Feel free to question. Feel free to change your mind. But don’t ever, ever give up.

And good luck. :)



Query letter for CITY OF SHADOWS:

In a society that breeds perfect people, seventeen-year-old Dax is defective. In other words, he’s illegal, and his life depends on his ability to be invisible. But Dax has heard rumors of a place where “defects” aren’t killed for their freckles, mismatched eyes, or mental disabilities.

They call it the Promised Land.

Serenity Faire’s family calls it dangerous – a threat to national security. That’s why they allow Dax to live when he is caught stealing, forcing him instead to help them find this city that has eluded the government for centuries. Their search leads them through the tunnels of Washington D.C.’s abandoned subways, into the heart of an America that was lost years ago. But in this forgotten world, Dax and Serenity uncover their own secret – a romance even more illegal than Dax’s freckles. Their relationship has consequences that echo through the White House, drawing the attention of the oppressive ruling family and threatening both their friends and family in the city and the Promised Land. Because the only thing worse than a defect who is allowed to live is a defect who is allowed to love.

CITY OF SHADOWS is a dystopian YA with the gritty urban feel of Neal Shusterman’s UNWIND and the forbidden romance of a futuristic ROMEO & JULIET. It is complete at 82,000 words.

(Bio/ contact info)


Kristin Otts


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  1. Whoot!! Go Kristin! =D
    Okay now I’m all inspired to go and be productive. *runs off to work on queries*

  2. Oh my god, Congrats! :D
    by the by, you’re very inspiring. :-)

  3. Every last bit is true to the max. =)

    When I started… this is going to sound majorly conceited, and maybe it is, but when I started I had this undeniable sense that I was going to achieve my publishing goals no matter what. Even if I didn’t achieve them right when I wanted to, even if the process didn’t go exactly as I planned–I was still, at some point in the forseeable future, as long as I WANTED it, going to get an agent and later land a publisher. Despite all my mess-ups and depressing moments, I still have that feeling today, even if it denies all common
    sense. I just wish I could instill it in all my writer friends. Red, your
    story just shows how important determination is. If you want it and if you write a damn good book, no matter how long it takes or how much effort, you will have a damn good future. It’s that simple.

    • I kind of did the same thing. I mean, I had some doubts, but I really believed that eventually I would get there. :) I think that’s a huge part of success – believing that you can do it, no matter how long it takes.

  4. Seconded, Emilia. ^

    Thanks for sharing, Kristin–your story really is inspiring!

  5. That post put a smile on my face! :) Way 2 go, Kristin! After all that hard work, you know you’re going somewhere.

    I like the sound of that. A teenage writer is going somewhere. Of course, you don’t know exactly where you’re going but we know it’s somewhere good, right?

    Rambling, sorry … Good luck on your writing!

    • :D Thanks, Day! I don’t mind the rambling – as you can see from my post, I do it quite frequently. ;)

  6. I loved this, Kristen. And your pic is *so* cute.

    • Oh Lord…that was taken at about 8:30 a.m. I ran a brush through my hair, threw on a t-shirt and jeans, and called it good. Didn’t know my sister wanted to photograph me signing the contract. *wince*

  7. Awesome post Kristin! I’m so happy for you! >__< And thanks for the great advice!

  8. Wow. OMG. I am SO wishing I had a photo of myself signing a contract.
    And plus, your query is amazing. I was like :-O when I was reading it.
    -Great job. Awesome.

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