Sunday, February 05, 2006

Agent #1 -- Jay

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.

- Jay

5 comments:

Miss P AKA Her Royal Cliqueness said...

Hey Jay, fellow blue boarder, here. Love your blog. I'm waiting anxiously to hear the stories of Agent 2 and 3. So many of us feel so good when we get an agent - but I've heard stories of things not working. So I'm just as interested in hearing the why's behind not working as I am in hearing about the thrill of finding one.

Disco Mermaids said...

Hey Paula! This is too weird. I just e-mailed Robin and Eve, urging them to check out your blog. You offer great insight into this year's New York conference. And within 30-minutes I see that you've left a comment on our blog. Crazy!

I feel the same way as you. I'm always interested in hearing other authors speak about the pros and cons of issues regarding writing for children. Agents 2 and 3 definitely had more extreme pros and cons than Agent 1...so stay tuned!

- Jay

(and thanks again for giving us a second-hand experience of New York)

Pam Calvert said...

Thanks for sharing this, Jay. I'm beginning to understand.

Did you go to the NY Conference in 2000? That's when I went! I was SOOO newbie, I couldn't even dream about subbing anything, but I had fun.

Disco Mermaids said...

Pam, I did go to the 2000 New York Conference. It was pretty eye-opening and mind-boggling...especially for my very first children's writing group experience. I can't wait to go back.

And congratulations on your book...it comes out this week, right?

- Jay

Pam Calvert said...

Yes! That's right! This week...AACK!