How I Got My Agent - Ashley's Story

Connecting with my agent, Kathleen Rushall of Andrea Brown Literary Agency, was definitely a combination of good luck and good timing. I had just started querying agents in December 2017. I was armed with a spreadsheet, a few fresh manuscripts across different genres, and a list of roughly 20 agents I’d researched. I had several agents from the Andrea Brown Literary Agency on my list, but not Kathleen. Kathleen was not on the list because she was closed to queries. There were two agents at the top of my list because they’d expressed interest in my writing thanks to Twitter. Twitter? Yes, Twitter. Like many writers, I tweet about my writing journey—successes, failures, missteps, goals, etc. I’d expressed my curiosity at the lack of agents representing chapter books, and surprisingly enough, a couple of agents responded. How’s that for social media magic?

Still, I was nervous about social media being the catalyst in finding an agent. It’s not that I don’t believe in social media’s amazing networking capabilities. In fact, the opposite is true. I just wasn’t too sure if my luck had run out. You see, Kathleen is my second agent.

I got my first agent thanks to a Twitter pitch party--#PB Pitch in June 2016 to be exact. They say all it takes is one yes. Well, I got that one yes from an agent, and it felt like a dream come true. Out of this collaboration came my first book deal, a picture book with HarperCollins called “Not Quite Snow White” scheduled to be released next summer. However, just like any dream, I had to eventually wake up. I parted ways with my first agent in 2017. Aside from the book deal, the greatest thing that I took away from this experience was knowing exactly what I did and didn’t want in a new agent.

Going against all practical advice, I began querying mid-December. My intention had been to wait until January, but I was both excited and impatient. I hoped the query trenches would be kind to me, but I honestly didn’t have much experience with them. Like any other writer seeking an agent, I was just hoping for the best. I was hoping that at least one agent would see what I saw in my manuscripts and want to champion them.

My plan was to send out five queries at a time. I felt like that wasn’t an overwhelming number. I wanted to pace myself, and I felt strongly about my chances of getting interest. My best writing buddies assured me that having a book deal would speed up my time in the trenches. I hoped they were right.

While I was waiting to hear back from the first batch of five agents, a writer reached out to me via social media and asked if I’d be interested in a referral. That referral was to Kathleen. In about a week’s time, I heard back from one of the agents that had reached out to me via Twitter. She made an offer.

I followed protocol and let the other agents I’d queried know that an offer had been made and asked if they were still interested. In the end, three agents offered representation, including Kathleen. Kathleen’s vison for my manuscripts and writing career best aligned with my own.

I started querying in 2015, the same year that I started taking writing seriously. Those first manuscripts were bad, and my agent search was disastrous. Including both times that I was in the trenches, I queried less than 20 agents. Essentially, I got both agents thanks to social media. Nearly all of this was out of my control. My path to agent representation is not normal by any means. What I hope it shows is that there is no one way to go on the path to publication.

Ashley Franklin is represented by Kathleen Rushall of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Her debut picture book, NOT QUITE SNOW WHITE, will be published in Summer 2019 by HarperCollins. Ashley received her M.A. from the University of Delaware in English Literature. She currently resides in Arkansas with her husband and two sons, ages 6 and 4. You can follow Ashley on Twitter: @differentashley, Instagram: ashleyfranklinwrites and Facebook: www.facebook.com/ashleyfranklinwrites.

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