Now, this is a story all about how

My life got flipped-turned upside down

And I’d like to take a minute

Just sit right there

I’ll tell you how I landed Kim, agent extraordinaire!

In west Philidelphia, born and raised…that’s basically true, but I’ll stop plagiarizing Will Smith for the moment (mostly because our storylines diverge at this point). Instead of shooting b-ball,  I wrote a novel. Then I rewrote said novel. Then I got feedback from other writers (hi Nicole, hi Susan!) and rewrote some more. Then I met the two best critique partners on the planet (huge thanks to Maggie Stiefvater for introducing us), Sarah Guillory and Kate Goodwin, and rewrote even more. Then I entered a contest called Pitch Wars and got to work with two incredibly generous and supportive mentors, Mónica Bustamante Wagner and Lindsey Sprague. I got several requests from agents (woohoo!) which gave me the courage to start querying.  I did an obscene amount of research on the agents I queried to make sure they were looking for my kind of book and, as a result, I got a lot of requests. It was exciting and scary and I really felt like I was about to get an offer…

But I didn’t. I got a lot of very nice rejections and several agents took time to offer me some invaluable suggestions for improving my novel. I even got my first Revise and Resubmit that also ultimately didn’t result in an offer. So I took a break from querying and wrote another book and sent it to my critique partners, and the notes they sent back were extremely encouraging. I was pretty motivated to dive right in, which in turn made me take a long hard look at my first novel and the rejections that were still trickling in. I decided to send a final round of queries and if nothing happened, I’d shift focus to my second book and a third one I was drafting. I also went through my records and officially closed any outstanding queries that were old.

The next day, one of the agents I’d marked as closed, emailed me asking if the book was still available. I responded that it was and she asked if I had time for a phone call to talk about it. We talked a few days later for over an hour and it was great….but it wasn’t an offer, it was another R&R. Still, it re-energized me to write a new draft which I finished in a month. A few days before I finished the draft, one of the agents I queried in my last batch responded with a standard full request. I tried not to get my hopes up since my full request rate was about 50%  but I still wasn’t getting offers. I briefly explained about the non-exclusive R&R and asked her if she could wait a few days for the new draft, and she was fine with that.

On Saturday night, I sent the revised draft to the R&R agent and the requesting agent. Sunday morning at 4:30am Arizona time, I had an email in my inbox from the requesting agent that was everything an author dreams about. She loved my book and my characters and my little author heart tried not to explode with happiness. We set up a call for the following morning and it was glorious even before she officially offered representation. Again, I’d done my research, so I already knew this agent was fantastic, but that call confirmed it.

I had to email the other agents who had fulls, including the R&R agent, to let them know I had an offer and would be responding to her within ten days. I received a few very kind step asides, but the R&R agent asked that I give her the full ten days to read. I already knew I wanted to accept the offer, but I wanted to be respectful of the time and energy the R&R agent had already invested in me, so I waited. In hindsight, I’m grateful for those ten excruciatingly long days, because I got to talk more with the offering agent and her clients, and when the time was up, I knew without a doubt what I know now: signing with Kim Lionetti of BookEnds Literary Agency was the best career decision I have ever made.

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About Abigail

Abigail Johnson was born in Pennsylvania. When she was twelve, her family traded in snowstorms for year-round summers and moved to Arizona. Abigail chronicled the entire cross-country road trip in a purple spiral-bound notebook that she still has, and has been writing ever since. She became a tetraplegic after breaking her neck in a car accident when she was seventeen but hasn’t let that stop her from bodysurfing in Mexico, writing and directing a high-school production of Cinderella, and riding roller coasters every chance she gets. She is the author of several young adult novels including If I Fix You and Every Other Weekend. She is represented by Kim Lionetti at BookEnds Literary Agency.

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4 Comments

  1. Lee-ann Dunton April 20, 2016 at 10:50 am - Reply

    I’m not a writer, so I’ll never have to go through this, but it was interesting to read, regardless. I’ve heard so many horror stories about looking for an agent… I’m glad yours wasn’t *too* excruciating. Although I’m sure it felt like it at the time!

  2. EHR June 21, 2017 at 12:50 am - Reply

    Yes! This is what I needed to read. <3 Lovely story! I always get disheartened when I read the impossibly easy journeys and this one sounds more like what I'm going through. She sounds like such an amazing agent.

    • Abigail Johnson June 21, 2017 at 8:07 am - Reply

      I know just what you mean! I hope you end up with a wonderful agent too!

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