In honor of SCBWI’s Seventh Annual Winter Conference in New York, this post is about my experience at their first winter conference. That’s where I found my first agent...sleeping one bed over from me.
I’d written a couple picture books and was working on my first mid-grade when I decided to fly across the country to better understand the business side of my new endeavor. I used the SCBWI website to find another attendee to bunk with. When I arrived, my roomie was nowhere to be found. He didn’t show up until I’d been asleep for a couple hours. When I headed downstairs the next morning, he was still asleep. We didn’t meet up until later that second night.
That’s when I found out my roommate was an agent. He only represented illustrators but was thinking of branching out to authors in the near future. My heart pounded. I’m rooming with an agent? What luck! I am SO meant to be an author.
He pulled several books from his luggage that he’d represented and I recognized most of them. I was too shy (okay, chicken) to ask if he’d want to represent me. But finally, on the last day of the conference... more specifically, as we were packing up to leave...I handed him two picture book manuscripts.
A few days later, back home where the winters are warm, there was a message on my answering machine. The agent! He loved one of my manuscripts, Amanda’s Hairball, and wanted to represent me.
Okay, let’s get this next part over with fast. The book never sold and my agent stopped working with authors. But it was too late. I’d felt the exhilaration of someone else being excited about my work...someone other than my mom, my dad, and my girlfriend.
The following summer, I hung out with Agent #1 at my first SCBWI Summer Conference in Los Angeles. We sat together and watched, unbeknownst to me at the time, my next agent (Agent #2) give a keynote address. But that’s a story for a later date.
And Agent #3 is for a date later than that.