Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Why I Love My Agent – by Julianne MacLean

The second most common question I get asked as a writer is: “Do you have an agent?”

Yes, I do. I’m with Paige Wheeler at Folio Literary Management, and I’ve been with her for 10 years. She took me on as a client in 1999 when I was still unpublished. I had been submitting my work to publishers on my own before that, and had a full manuscript at Harlequin, which had been sitting in the slush pile for 6 months. The first thing she did was call the editor to inform her that she was now representing me, and viola, my manuscript was pulled out of the pile. That was PRAIRIE BRIDE, my first published historical romance, and Paige negotiated that contract for me and ushered me into the world of royalties and deadlines.

Most of the time, everything rolls along smoothly, and not much happens except for royalty checks coming in and regular stuff like that. I work away at home, and I just focus on writing the current work-in-progress.

Other times, however, I will hit a speed bump, and she is always there for me when I do. She has taken me to three different publishers over these ten years. The first was Harlequin, where I wrote my first 4 books. My fifth book, however, was rejected there, and I was disappointed because I really wanted to write it. So Paige shopped it around, and within 3 weeks, we had an offer from Avon. That book was TO MARRY THE DUKE, my first single title.

What I remember most about that experience was getting the initial call from Paige that the book had been rejected. As an author, it’s not the call you want to get from your agent. But by the time we were finished talking, and I hung up the phone, I felt positive and excited – also not how you’d expect to feel after getting a rejection. It’s always been that way with Paige. Even in the darkest moments, I hang up the phone, and the world seems brighter.

More recently, I had begun to feel like I was stuck in a rut, and Paige was again there for me in ways I cannot even describe. She always kept me grounded during our phone calls, talked me off the ledge a few times, and every time I hung up the phone after talking to her, I felt hopeful again.

We eventually decided that a move to a new publisher would be a good thing to freshen up my career. I wrote a proposal that was different from my Victorian romances – it was set in the Scottish Highlands, and had a very savage and rugged hero. Paige helped me polish it and make it the very best it could be, then she shopped that around, too. To make a long story short, there was an auction and two houses bidding besides Avon, and it ended with St. Martins Press winning the day.

Interestingly, I had met the St. Martins editor at a cocktail party that Paige hosted at a national conference about five years ago. Little did I know then that Paige’s party would have a big influence over a future career move – because I never forgot the conversation I had with that lovely editor.

So now I am feeling good about my new home at St. Martins Press, and I am very thankful to have an agent I can always trust to support my long-term career goals, and to always listen and hear me. I have always felt like she “gets” what I want and need, and does her best to try and make it happen.

And I listen to her, too. Often her advice is to be patient, think long-term, even when the short term seems hopeless, and that advice has always turned out to be the right thing. And that’s why I love my agent.


Unknown said...

How wonderful to have someone so supportive in your corner.

I'm also curious about what the first question people ask you is.

Julianne MacLean said...

The most common question I'm asked is "How long does it take you to write a book." I blogged about that recently as well at:

Julianne MacLean said...

And just to add to this blog - it seems a common thing that when life is tough for writers and things aren't going as well as they would like, that's the time they want to fire their agent and find a new one. I have felt the opposite about Paige. When times are tough, that's when I appreciate her the most.

Donna Alward said...

Great post Julianne! It sounds like Paige is what every writer wants - someone to really be an advocate!

Your post actually just gave ME an idea....LOL!

Julia Phillips Smith said...

Oh, Julianne - what a wonderful post! I'm so glad you found Paige and that she's been so solid for you, all these years. Of course, an agent is probably more than willing to fight for a writer who's amazing...

Helen said...

It is really lovely to have someone so supportive with you along the way.
I gotta say I love your books and am waiting for the newest one to arrive can't wait to read it.

Have Fun

Estella said...

Sounds like your agent is a very supportive person. The only kind to have!

Michelle Styles said...

Paige sounds like a wonderful agent. How lucky you both are to have found each other.

Miranda Neville said...

Great post Julianne. Interesting that looking for a new publisher gave you the boost you needed. As a new Avon author I am sorry we are only ships that pass in the night.

Mariee said...

Great post. Sounds like your agent is a keeper :)

Julianne MacLean said...

Thanks for all the comments guys. Miranda - I'm sure you'll have a great run at Avon. I sure did. It was great while it lasted and I had some of the most amazing experiences there. Sorry to hear we'll be ships, though!