My Perfect Agent

So since I moaned and griped about my agent search on this blog, it seems only right that I should make a formal announcement here as well.
It took 7 months but I have finally found my perfect agent.
She is Danielle Chiotti and she is with my dream agency, Upstart Crow Literary. (FYI- ‘upstart crow’ is how an older and less successful writer referred to William Shakespeare, who I just bet was a cocky son of a gun).

Since the course of (agent) love never does run smooth, I thought I’d give you some details and fun facts. Also you might find it helpful to see that connecting with the right person is difficult even when you are already published, but it is a relationship that should never be forced or rushed. Of course I know how hard it is to remember this when you are feeling desperate and positive that you will never be agented.


Danielle was closed for submission when I first considered her. She gets a huge number of queries every day. I had to chew my fingernails for a month and wait for her to open again, and if I had not written it down in my calendar I would have forgotten to query her.

Since Upstart Crow was one of my dream-never-going-to-happen-so prestigious agencies I almost didn’t bother because I was sure of a rejection. (I was at the ‘man-do-I-suck’ phase of a writer’s life, which is of course cyclical and never goes away completely).

I sent her two manuscripts for consideration. FIERCE and BRINY DEEP.

She thought they were great but didn’t think either was quite right for my second YA. (This was not the soul-crushing verdict one would expect. She was thinking about my career and not just the books in question). I appreciated her honesty but still no writer wants to hear “I think you’re talented but can you go away and write something else?”
Since I wrote Ashes, Ashes, I’ve written 3 other books in about 2 years and I am TIRED! And my new book idea is just a glimmer in my eye at this point.

Also it brought up questions in my own mind about whether I am really a writer, whether I should continue writing, whether I was just deluding myself….You know, those PESKY questions!

After much thought I decided to send her the manuscript I had just completed, INKERS. It was much-revised by me and my first tier of beta readers but I was not altogether confident in it. I didn’t want to send her anything that was less than polished and professional, in case I mucked it up.
I also wasn’t sure if I could expect her to want to read yet another piece by me. I mean, she’d read 2 manuscripts in as many days and was in danger of a serious ‘JO overload’.

She had also taken it upon herself to read Ashes, Ashes. (This made me love her very much).
So I sent it.

After a terrible and fraught weekend where I imagined her adoring it on Saturday and despising it on Sunday, she called.
And said the words every writer wants to hear: “I loved it. It’s the right book. I would like to offer you representation”.

Murphy’s Law being what it is, I actually had another offer of rep on the table. Great agency, awesome agent but it just felt right with Danielle. My gut knew even before my head. She is an agent who will challenge me and inspire me to be the best writer I can possibly be. There will be no easy routes, she won’t let me get away with any of my tricksy, lazy, procrastinating behavior, she will force me to examine my weaknesses and improve them, and at the end of it all I will be proud of the work I have done.


6 thoughts on “My Perfect Agent

  1. Just stumbled upon your blog, Jo, and saw this lovely happy post. The right agent is SO-O-O important. My first agent – the lovely Maggie Noach – sadly and rather suddenly died of cancer, and since then I have not found the right one to replace her… and it’s not for want of looking! So I wish you and Danielle a very happy relationship and the best of luck with the new book.

    1. Happy to see you here, Katherine! Danielle is actually my 3rd agent. My first two (both much beloved) quit the business. I know how rare it is to find someone who gets your work and is excited about its potential. I should feel blessed to have known 3 such people but hoping this one lasts for the rest of my career.

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