• Jennifer Mattern

How I Got My Agent


Six-hundred eleven.



These numbers are important to the story of how I became an agented author.

You see, I queried two manuscripts off and on for a total of 611 days before I got my yes on day 612. Being told no in a million different ways—your story’s not right for my list, I didn’t fall in love, it’s not what I’m looking for, I must regretfully pass—for 611 days is exhausting. Mentally, physically, SOULfully tiring.

Even with the bits of hope scattered throughout—the full manuscript requests, the kind words about your writing, the beta readers who gush over your story—you come to expect bad news after that many days of rejection. In fact, I was so weary of it all, I had decided to stop querying altogether that fateful 612th day. That morning, I got yet another rejection at eight o’clock on the dot. “I do not feel that I am the right agent for your project,” this agent wrote. “But here is an online resource you might find helpful.” I gave a mental eye-roll over the helpful resource, since it was one I’d consulted early in my querying journey, at least 600 days earlier.

Then I cried. This was it, I decided. This was the rejection that broke the camel’s back. I texted my loyal critique partners and told them. “As of today,” I typed, “Beautiful Scars is officially shelved.” I cried some more and let myself sink fully into a querying funk while their sweet, encouraging responses rolled in. (I really, really love my CPs.)

The tears weren’t even dry on my cheeks when my email notification dinged again. The timestamp was 8:22 am. The heading showed it was from another agent, one who had requested my full manuscript the month before. It was the very last full I had out there. And also my very last chance, since I’d decided to lay this story to rest twenty-two minutes earlier. Great, I thought, another rejection. Why does this have to be so hard?

With shaking fingers, I opened the email to read the message.

Dear Jenny,
Thank you so much for sending along THE ART OF BEAUTIFUL SCARS. I have had a chance to read it, and I would like to offer representation. When would be a good time to chat?

Wait. What? I read it again. And again. And again. I texted my CPs, this time to share good news. The best news. Within minutes, one of them called me to scream and cry and laugh in my ear as she shared my joy at the absurdity of this day. (Did I mention how much I love my CPs?)

And that is the story of how I went from a querying author to an agented one. I know the journey ahead is still long. After all, I’ve never heard anyone say the road to publication is easy. But now I have someone in my corner who can walk that road with me and that makes all the difference.

Two manuscripts.

Six-hundred-eleven days of querying.

Twenty-two minutes between rejection and offer.

One agent who believed in my story.

What do you know? It really does take just one.

(Photo credit Drahomír Posteby-Mach)

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