Recently, I participated in a Twitter and Blog Competition called Pitch Madness hosted by Brenda Drake. With increasing use of e-readers and social media marketing, writers are able to connect with agents and editors, sometimes having only 140-characters to pitch one’s book. If an agent’s attention is caught from just 140-characters, that means a writer has a dynamite concept and can work with that as they proceed through the querying process.
I didn’t book my agent from that competition, however the process of entering it stirred up a lot of buzz that did help me secure representation and I can confidently say that I think a lot of Goddard alum might be able to take advantage of those competitions, in particular if someone writes MG or YA. From participation, I gained more than 100 new followers, which is critical as agents (and editors) look at platform (followers/potential market).
When given the opportunity to do an interview with Sharon Johnson, the woman who selected my novel out of 920+ entries as one of the 17 on her team, my agent Travis Pennington and I jumped on the opportunity to share not just the process, but how we paired up.
This interview was particularly important for me as Goddard directly contributed to my being offered representation. I remember when Bhanu spoke about writers not being allowed to give up until they had 78 rejections. Mine was the 79th query on a novel called JERKBAIT that did it (although I had a total of 208). I was considered lucky. The number seemed overwhelming, although it was bizarrely accurate. As well, my Goddard thesis OUTGROWN HORSES caught my agent’s attention as he read excerpts from it on my website.
I wanted the chance to share with the Goddard community what my querying journey was like in hopes of providing a realistic view of the traditional publishing world. It’s hard. It’s daunting. It’s absolutely not fun. But the end result is pretty satisfying, especially with the guidance on writing something that would sell.
Goddard gave me the confidence to write well and push the boundaries as I often censored myself. My agent gave me the confirmation that my decision to stick true to my style but shift to a more commercial audience was absolutely the right one for me.
For a last little bit of advice, if writers are seeking agent representation (or editors at small presses), make sure you do your research. There are a lot of agents who look terrific on paper but in actuality are scammers. Absolute Write has a great process of vetting agents. New agents (such as mine) might not be listed there yet, HOWEVER if they work at a reputable agency, they can be a great opportunity as they’re hungry for those first sales.
Bio: Mia Siegert received her MFA from Goddard College (June ’12) and her BA from Montclair State University, where she won Honorable Mention in Fiction (2009 English Department Awards). She has been published in Clapboard House, Word Riot, Robocup Press, The Limn Literary & Arts Journal as well as a few other small presses. A short reading of JERKBAIT was performed by the New Jersey Playwrights Association where it was well-received. Siegert currently works as an adjunct professor at Berkeley College and Southern New Hampshire University. She also works as a costume designer, most recently having finished a production of CATS featuring Ken Page, the original Broadway Old Deuteronomy.
Link to Pitch Madness article: https://smjohnstondotcom.wordpress.com/2015/05/09/how-i-got-my-agent-pitch-madness-team-yellow-member-mia-siegert/