Agent Story, or–How to Sound Really Inane on the Phone

Posted by houndrat on Wednesday Mar 10, 2010 Under writing

So, my agent story is probably less than typical. In a fun twist, my agent found me rather than the other way ‘round.

Back in January, I received an email from Taylor Martindale, a new agent with the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. Her colleague, Natalie Fischer, found the awesome Karla Calalang’s query after poking around on Absolute Write (the best writing site ever!) and thought it sounded like a great story. Karla, in turn, referred her to some of her fellow YA writers’ blogs. Apparently, Taylor enjoyed my teasers on The Demon Guard and invited me to email her the first 50 pages. At that point, I was still finishing up, so I told her it might be a little wait. Just from those initial email interactions, though, I could tell she was friendly, approachable, and super nice. In fact, everyone I knew from AW who interacted with her was very impressed.

When I finally finished DG in February, I sent the first 50 pages to Taylor.

She checked in a couple weeks later to let me know she was looking forward to reading my material that week. On Thursday, she emailed me in the morning to tell me she’d finished my pages, and that she loved them, and would I please send her the full?

Four hours later, my cell phone rang. I saw the call was from Del Mar but didn’t think much about it, until the person on the other end said, “Hello? May I speak to Debra? This is Taylor Martindale, from the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.”


I think the rest of our conversation went something like this:

Me: Um?

Taylor: Is this Debra?

Me: *almost chokes on own tongue* Yes?

Taylor: Hi Debra, how are you?

Me: Um, fine. *panics* Before you say anything else—can you please just tell me one thing? You aren’t calling to say my book sucks, right? Because I think I would cry.

Taylor: *laughs, probably wonders if writer she is talking to is a crazy person* No. Actually, the opposite. I was calling to tell you how much I love The Demon Guard, and to offer you representation.

Me: *mumbles something incoherent, tries not to faint* Really? *laughs like a crazy person* Wow! You totally caught me off-guard.

Taylor: *laughs like a normal person* I’m sorry—I was afraid that might happen.

Me: *mumbles something even more incoherent* Wait—did you finish reading it yet?

Taylor: Not yet, no.

Me: *ponders, tells herself not to say something stupid. Says something stupid anyway* But, are you sure? What if you, I don’t know, totally hate the rest?

Taylor *laughs, probably now convinced writer she is talking to is indeed a crazy person, probably eyes phone like it’s a ticking bomb* I’m sure I won’t.

I can’t really remember the rest—just little bits about how she used to intern at Bliss Agency, where she worked with other authors like Hannah Moskowitz, writer of the amazing YA novel Break. I think I selectively blacked out all the parts where I sounded especially lame—essentially, most of the conversation.

On the following Tuesday, I got to tour the office and meet Taylor in person. She finished my book, and believe it or not, didn’t hate it (YAY) and even better—she GOT it. She really, really GOT my vision for Demon Guard. I can’t even tell you how huge that is.

So I signed the papers last week, and WOO HOO—I have an agent, one that I totally love!

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27 Responses to “Agent Story, or–How to Sound Really Inane on the Phone”

  1. Sandy Shin Says:

    Yay, congratulations, Debra! *showers you with confetti*

    Thank you for sharing your lovely agent story with us! From what I’ve seen from other AWers’ accounts, both Natalie and Taylor are really awesome and friendly agents, and I’m so glad you’ve found an agent who *gets* your work in one of them! :]

  2. Annie Says:

    *Huggles to my Demon Sister* Couldn’t happen to a better person! Congrats!! You deserve it 1000%.

  3. Kate Says:

    What has two thumbs and is super psyched for you?

    This girl!

    (I thought if I sounded super lame you might feel better. :P )

    Seriously, congrats! So excited for you. :)

  4. Laurie Says:

    Oh, the happiness!!! Can’t wait for you to go on sub :)

  5. Vero Says:

    That is such an awesome totally non-typical story!! LOVE it! Yay!

  6. Laura (Common) Says:

    Yay!!! And, you could turn that whole phone conversation into one of those really funny, but totally uncomfortable TV show scenes! And I cannot wait to see Summer and Shade in print! :D

  7. Holen Says:

    Oh, I bet your mind was going a million miles a minute while she was talking, and then would go blank right when you were supposed to talk.

    Ever notice how that happens in stressful (even good stressful) situations?

    Super congrats!

  8. Other Lisa Says:


    I’m terrible on the phone a lot of the time, so I totally feel your pain.

  9. Krista Ashe Says:

    It doesn’t matter how prepared you are, you always end up sounding like a tool! Congrats, congrats, congrats! So happy it all worked out for you and for Demon Guard, and that someone loved it like in Bridget Jones, “Just the way it is!”

  10. sue Says:

    lol! i love you, missus! you crack me up, you really do!

  11. Emilia Says:

    I think you are the definition of charming. And that’s so cool that you got to meet Taylor in person. Sweet success!! <3

  12. Becca Cooper Says:

    LOL You’re hilarious. And really quite eloquent considering the conversation. Massive congratz! :D

  13. Tracey Says:

    Hahaha! I feel your pain. I despise talking on the phone. Am very happy for you!

  14. Jennifer (Herb) Says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I always love your posts but especially this one. Write an awesome book – get an awesome agent!

  15. Kaitlin Says:

    So exciting and awesome!! Congrats, and I’m sure you sounded a thousand times more coherent than you think :)

  16. JennW Says:

    Conrgats again!

  17. Heather Says:

    Whoo hooooooo!!!!! I’m so happy for you. What a great story and I can tell you really love love love your agent. Good stuff all around!

  18. Kathy Says:

    Oh wow, this is so cool! :) Congratulations again! You deserve it! Based on the above script (lol), I thought you sounded plenty coherent :)

  19. CoryLeslie Says:

    Congrats on the agent, Deb!

  20. Inkspatters Says:

    CONGRATS. Also, you sound so adorable on the phone — and you totally make sense, even with the crazy person laughter :D

  21. erinjade Says:

    congratulations!!! i love that story! i talked to an agent on the phone for the first time a few weeks ago, and i did exactly what you did. :)

  22. hope101 Says:

    I’m sure you sounded quite normal for the circumstances, LOL. Congratulations!

  23. Mid-Week Links Round-Up | Absolute Write Says:

    [...] to Houndrat (Debra) who just landed an agent! You can read what it’s like to get that phone call, and a bit about her journey as a writer to reach this point, all on her blog at [...]

  24. Shveta Thakrar Says:

    Congrats yet again, dearie! I’m just waiting for the announcement on Publishers Marketplace. ;)

  25. ChristaCarol Says:

    Gah, I can’t believe I missed this post. Congrats again, love, so proud of ya!

  26. Hannah Says:

    Just saw this post. Congratulations, again!!! :D

  27. MBW aka Olleymae Says:

    Wow–what an awesome way for representation to happen. She chased you down!! lol.

    Congrats. She sounds like an awesome agent.

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