There have been many exciting moments in my career as a writer, but the one that stands out the most was when I met my agents, Josh and Tracey Adams of Adams Literary. In the spring of 2006, I felt my novel The Nine Pound Hammer was ready for submission. Having heard how tough it was for unagented writers to get a publishing deal, I began the grueling search for an agent. That process is a whole other story-- and one worth telling another time. After extensive research, I had my list of dream agents. And at the top was Adams Literary.
They handled many fantasy adventure authors. They had an interest in “discovering Southern voices in children’s book writing.” They represented an amazing array of talent. The catch was (at the time) they would only take submissions from authors they had met in person. Dang. I thought I was going to have to move down the list. But then I saw that Tracey was speaking at a SCBWI conference in
Now if you’ve been through the submission process, you know there are rules to follow. Break those rules and you might ruin your chances. According to standard operating procedure, the first step is to send a query letter asking if the agent will consider reading your manuscript. So my plan was to introduce myself at the conference, follow up with the query after the conference, and hope for the best.
My wife had a different take…
She suggested I send them an introductory email saying that I was looking forward to meeting them at the conference. There was nothing about this in my research on the submission process. There were rules! You had to follow the rules. Be too pushy or make one misstep and you might blow it. But as she pointed out, they’re just people. I was hesitant, but I gave it a shot. Here’s what my email said:
Dear Ms. Adams,
I am familiar with
I will be attending the SCBWI conference this weekend in
I quickly got a reply from Tracey thanking me for the email and saying she looked forward to meeting me as well. At the conference, I hadn’t had a chance to meet them yet when I attended Tracey’s presentation on “The Do’s and Don’ts of Submitting to Agents.” She was talking about all the bizarre approaches people take: sending glam photos, filling envelopes with glitter, sending bottle of champagne, etc. Then she asked if John Bemis was in the audience. Face burning that I was about to become an embarrassing example of a "don't", I raised my hand. Tracey read my email aloud. I was cringing. Heads were turning to locate me. She then said that this was how to do it. Be polite. Be brief and professional. And be yourself, a normal person without gimmicks.
Later we got to meet officially. I submitted my manuscript to them. And a few months later, I got the call that they wanted to represent me. Who knows how critical that introductory email was, but what I realized was that we began our relationship on the right note. I believe I showed myself as assertive but also easy to work with, and they showed me they were responsive and friendly.
While my writing career has had the rollercoaster ups and downs many authors experience, my agents have always been there as caring supporters. They have my best interests at heart. Nothing in my journey as a writer has been as critical as meeting Josh and Tracey at that conference.
As I gear up for August release of THE WHITE CITY, the third and final book in my Clockwork Dark trilogy, I’m doing giveaways. If you want a chance to win a copy of either The Nine Pound Hammer, The Wolf Tree, or an advance copy of The White City (winner's choice), make a comment here under my post by Monday, July 11th. The winner will be selected at random on Tuesday morning and announced here on Smack Dab as well as on my website www.johnclaudebemis.com. To be considered you must be a follower of Smack Dab In The Middle and a resident of the