Big News, Happy Things, Literary Agents, Writing Life

Four words, twelve letters: I HAVE AN AGENT!!!

You guys… I can’t believe I’m actually typing this post out. I mean, sure I’ve dreamt about writing something like this for the last two years, but I seriously can’t believe it’s real. I mean, it’s REALLY real.


A real, live, agent is my partner in publishing crime. And it’s not just ANY literary agent, it happens to be my DREAM* agent. How lucky am I?!

It took me two years, and countless tears and laughter and SO MANY FEELINGS before I made the right agent connection. And even THEN she didn’t sign me with the first project I sent her…

The beginning:

I queried Barbara Poelle in July of 2011 with a YA futuristic thriller after reading (and loving) WITHER and seeing she represented the work. I checked and rechecked and did a million neurotic things before I fired off my query letter. Then I ate a bunch of dairy-free chocolate and questioned my life. Not really. But sort of. 

Fast-forward a few weeks. 

Write-On-Con (an online writing conference) was going on and Barbara (and fellow agent Holly Root) participated in a live Q&A session. If I wasn’t sold on how awesome Barbara was before, I was then. I thought she was funny/knowledgeable and would be the PERFECT advocate for a writer. I hoped, hoped, hoped for the impossible; she’d want to throw a chair and by chair I mean bar stool out a window to represent my work.

Fast forward another week or so.

My email taunts me with the dreaded: Gmail – Inbox (1) –

I see that it’s a message from Barbara. My brain runs through a million + 1 different scenarios in my head. Then I remember: The Irene Goodman Literary Agency only responds if interested. GASP. Could it mean… a FULL REQUEST. SQUEEEEEEEE!!!

So I acted like a professional successfully keeping my inner Tom Cruise from jumping on my inner Oprah’s couch and sent off the requested material. And I waited. But while I was waiting I did that thing you’re not supposed to do… I kept revising. I got some feedback from another agent, then revised some more. Taking a chance, I sent the revised copy to Barbara. She gladly accepted it.

Fast forward again.

While perusing Writer’s Digest for info, I came across a webinar Barbara was teaching. It was either going to help me stand out, or flag me as a complete nut, but the class sounded AWESOME and I quickly signed up. After another revision** Barbara jokingly accepted my latest version. A few weeks later she emailed me to let me know it was coming up in her reading queue. Of course I panicked.

Then a week later I see this guy again: Gmail – Inbox (1) –

It was from Barbara… And it was… a rejection. But you guys, it was SO GOOD. Like if rejections could cuddle hug you, this one SO would. I trusted what she said and agreed with her comments 1,000%. Knowing that she’s the kind of person I want in my corner, I rolled my writing sleeves up and got to work on another book.

Two Weeks ago:

I sent Barbara my full manuscript. (She told me to directly submit my next work, which was AWESOME of her.) Then I proceeded to bite my fingernails and by bite my fingernails I mean drink vodka and sent a handful of query letters out. Requests started coming in, as did a few rejections. I sent the requested material and tried to not check my email a billion times throughout the day.

Seven days later I saw a message from Barbara. I immediately assumed she was writing to tell me she discovered a way to set fire to her email using only her eyes. My heart sank. Then I pulled on my fearless writer panties and read the first line: She wanted to talk…



Paranoia is a real thing, friends.

I harassed told my mother about my “email and fire” theory. She wasn’t convinced. I tried the same thing with my friends and sister and they didn’t buy it either.

Then I sent a few thousand emails to my writing pal Anita Grace Howard, where I was openly panicking. Because OMG the phone call was TWO DAYS AWAY. That’s like a thousand years in a writers imagination. Thankfully, Anita talked me off my ledge and I calmed down.

Day of “THE CALL”

Barbara was every bit as awesome as I imagined she’d be. Within two seconds my nerves subsided and it was like talking to someone I’ve known my whole life. Her enthusiasm for my project was INCREDIBLE, and omg it’s like she has brain scanning superpowers. She totally got my book and characters, and my mind was officially blown.

 Apparently, she hearts me and my book as much as I heart her and her agenting superpowers.

So it’s official, I am now represented by Barbara Poelle of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency!!!!!!!!! I could not be happier, I KNOW that Barbara is the perfect agent for me. I’m BEYOND thrilled to be on this publishing journey with someone like her on my side.


Here’s the moral of the story: If you have a dream, never give up. EVER. Keep learning, keep pushing, keep striving to reach it. But don’t forget to celebrate the little achievements along the way.

None of this would’ve happened if I stopped after that first book didn’t work out, or after that hundredth rejection I received, or any other bump in the road that emerged along the way.

I promise you, having that person call and be equally passionate about your work TOTALLY erases EVERYTHINGEVERYTHINGEVERYTHING crappy that has ever come before it.


WOO HOO!!!!!

*By “dream agent” I really mean they should be the RIGHT agent for you and your work.

**Please note: I also ended up taking a Writers Digest Webinar by Barbara in November 2011 and it was one of the best experiences. That’s the ONLY reason why I sent her a second revision. It really opened up our communication lines, be sure to attend the next one on April 12th, 2012! Barbara knows her stuff!!

Here’s the info: From Cozy to Carnage: An Agent Explains the Ins and Outs of Thriller/Mystery Writing–For Both the Adult and YA Markets

63 thoughts on “Four words, twelve letters: I HAVE AN AGENT!!!”

  1. CONGRATS! THIS IS HUGE! (And why can’t I change my font to 28 pt because it needs to be that big, at least!) YAY, YAY, YAY! Now, patiently (not really) waiting for book release announcement. 😉

  2. Yay! So glad for you – and I agree, finding that literary mentor/cheerleader/agent is an awesome feeling. Good luck and have FUN with your revisions. The pressure is (temporarily) off so relax and hoist a glass or two in celebration!!

    1. Thank you, Melodie!!! It’s definitely a great feeling, right?!! I don’t think the perma-grin is going away for a good, long while 🙂 SQUEEEE!!!!

      Okay, I’ll retire the exclamation points 🙂

  3. Congratulations!!! Such wonderful news :o) It’s a great feeling, isn’t it? Wishing you lots of luck as you travel down this awesome path :o)

    1. Thank you so much, Angela! It’s a GREAT feeling. I heart it so much, I want to bottle it up and save it to guzzle down throughout the year 🙂

  4. Ooooooh, I am happy-dancing with you, Kerri! I think you know that those of us in the same boat (or hopefully soon to be in the same boat, LOL!) totally understand how HUGE this news is and how much work you’ve put in to get this far. So psyched for you!!!!! Hugs!

    1. *CUDDLE HUGS YOU LIKE CRAZY* I don’t even have to second guess that we’ll be doing a similar happy dance for you VERY, VERY SOON 🙂 Thank you for being a part of this wild ride with me!!!

      #WipMadness FOR LIFE 🙂 🙂

  5. Again, CONGRATS! I am so HAPPY for you, this is AMAZING…Interwebz hugs to you 😀

    Your story is also very inspirational and a wonderful reminder to keep going, to keep dreaming and working hard. You deserve all of this and more! Enjoy your drink(s), continue to dance and remember you are GREAT! 😀

    1. Elodie, your comments are so sweet! And I mean it – never give up your dreams and ANYTHING is possible! I know, know, KNOW you’ve got great things on the horizon 🙂 🙂

  6. How fantastic!! I love this story and look forward to hearing about your book. I “attended” the chat with Barbara Poelle at WOC this summer (LOVED her) too. Congrats!

  7. You don’t know me, but I followed a link from Twitter to here and I just wanted to say how excited I am for you. Go, you! You are *awesome*!

    1. Beth your comment made my day! Thank you so much for stopping in and for sharing this day with me!! I look forward to sharing tweets/and interwebz banter 🙂

  8. Congrats to my new agency mate! I know from people who are repped by Barbara that they are really happy with her. I’m with Miriam, and all the people at the agency seem top notch.

    1. *waves to agency mate* Thanks so much for popping in, Sarah!!

      I’m thrilled to be a part of such a wonderful agency. Everyone seems so warm, and welcoming. (Yourself included!) I can’t wait for this next leg of the journey 🙂

      *HUGS YOU*

      1. *waves to Lauren* Thank you so much for the congrats and welcome!!! I’m still floating on cloud 9… oh, and unruly penmonkeys are AWESOME 🙂

  9. Welcome to Team Poelle, Kerri! I’ve been with Barbara for a while and absolutely love working with her. Your book will be in excellent care with her.

    I’m also thrilled to see you’re friends with Anita Grace Howard. She and I are Amulet Books pals.

    Congrats on getting to work with Barbara!

    1. Thank you for the warm welcome Cat!!! When Anita told me her fellow Amulet publisher sister was one of Barbara’s clients, I KNEW I’d found my literary agent match.


    1. Thank you so much for the sweet comments! They really made my day 🙂 And I have no doubt that everyone deep in the query trenches will be doing a similar dance one day REALLY soon! Hard work + determination = Anything being possible. 🙂 *CYBER HUGS YOU*

  10. She’s a killer, KILLER agent. You’re in GREAT hands. She stood by me for 2.5 years before my thriller series sold. She is Teh Awsome. Welcome to the Poelle family!

    Now? GET THEE TO ETSY!!! lolol… 😉


      *Runs to Etsy, pets the pretty things on the computer screen*

      On a serious note, thank you for the warm welcome. I’m so happy to be part of the Poelle family. 🙂 You guys ROCK.

  11. Kerri, I love your post! Having so recently been where you, I know exactly how you feel and could not have said it any better myself! When you say not to ever ever give up, you are so right. We are proof that dreams, even writing dreams, do come true with hard work and persistence. (Nail biting downshifts into deep paranoia aside!) Adding my joy to yours!!

    1. I’m so glad you liked it, Barbara! One of my favorite quotes is “Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, ‘I’m Possible’.” 🙂

      *High-fives my agent sister*

      Congrats to YOU on signing with Barbara, too!!! *pops champagne and throws confetti*

  12. Aaaaaahhhh! Well I *thought* I might have guessed, but that doesn’t make it any less cool.
    Well done, congratulations and you stay up there and float on that cloud for as long as you like – you’ve earned it! : D

    1. Yay! I’m still floating on that cloud – which makes for REALLY difficult writing/revising concentration today. 🙂

      Thank you for the congrats, Ruth! *HUGS YOU THROUGH THE COMPUTER SCREEN*


    I am SO jealous right now I could light your email on fire with my eyes. *HEATVISIONS YOUR GMAIL* Barbara Poelle? I’ve gotta say, I think AARDVARK made her many a writer’s dream agent. It’s not just you having an agent and being one step closer to publication….when I think of all the potentially hilarious conversations you and your agent will have when plotting world domination one YA reader at the time, my skin goes positively green with envy, and that is not a good look for me.


    1. LOOOOOOOL I knew it! Your magical *HEATVISIONS* explains what happened with my gmail earlier. o.O

      *shakes fist, at you and your O’Donnell email burning superpowers*

      On a serious note, you are going to dominate the UNIVERSE with your work REALLY soon. I’ve seen your pages and I don’t need my superpowers to know that AMAZING things are coming your way. You are made of oodles of awesome. 🙂

  14. Congratulations!, I don’t know you…but I am oh so happy for you…let me assist with your happy dance.

    1. *waves hello, shakes hand* It’s nice to meet you!!! Thank you so much for popping in to share this with me, I’m looking forward to getting to know you! Now, let’s crank up the music and interwebz dance some more 🙂

  15. CONGRATULATIONS! I love it when fellow writers find agents and it’s your DREAM AGENT. How awesome is that?!

    1. Thank you so much for your sweet comment! *HIGH FIVES YOU*
      I love being part of the writing community, there are so many AWESOME people – like YOU! 🙂

  16. Found this blog by way of Dianne and congratulations. Once upon a time I was a Children’s Librarian and YA fiction is the BEST. So many of the works I read then shook my life, in ways that Adult Fiction never did.I am so happy for you and can’t wait to get my hands on your book.

    1. Dianne is so sweet! I just saw her post 🙂 Thank YOU for stopping in and for such a wonderful comment. Being a Children’s Librarian was always something I wanted to do! Spending the day surrounded by books – I can’t imagine anything better.

      And I may be partial, but I agree – YA is the best 🙂

    1. *high fives agent sister* Thank you so much, Sophie!!! I’m definitely excited for some adventure, and am THRILLED to be on such a great team 🙂

  17. Woohooo!!!! I’m sorry I didn’t get over here sooner, Twink, but it was so worth the wait! This post has so much cream-filling goodness!!! I’m so so so proud and happy for you! Way to stay in the game, girl. 🙂 Now, when are you going to give us a teaser about this book? Is it another YA sci fi? EEEEK! Exciting things ahead for you! 😉


      Don’t worry about getting over here sooner – YOU were there while it all went down!!!!!! I would have been sitting in a corner – rocking back and forth humming nursery rhymes – without you talking me off my crazy ledge 🙂

      Oh, and yes! The book is another YA sci fi thriller. 🙂

  18. Huge congrats! I popped over from Dianne Wilson’s blog where she mentioned your good news today 🙂 Any friend of hers is a person worth saying hello to.

    1. You are so sweet! And isn’t Dianne the best?!!! Thank you so much for saying hello and for sharing the good news with me 🙂 I look forward to being interwebz friends 🙂

    1. Thank you Carissa, my love! I’m still wavering between dreamland and reality. What I REALLY want to know is how your WEDDING DAY WENT!!!


  19. Congrats Kerri! I found your blog through query tracker and I’m so glad I did. I just got the “hey you’re next on my reading queue” email from Barbara – who I have a raging girl crush on – and I won’t lie, I’m panicking like you did. But the amazing part of your story, what I so appreciate, is that you shared that first rejection. I feel like, if I get a rejection as well, there’s still hope. So THANK YOU! I can’t wait to hear more about your adventure!

    1. First of all SQUEEEE!!! Congrats on your request – I’ll be sending lots of good vibes your way immediately 🙂 I’m so glad my story shows there is ALWAYS hope. When one door closes, keep knocking on more until one opens. I promise with persistence and hard work anything is possible 🙂

      Also, thank you for the congrats, my Query Tracker buddy!

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