A Long Journey- searching for a literary agent

Author L.A. FieldingMaybe everything is meant to be…….. this my story about finding a literary agent.

I am currently self-publishing my first X-tails book, but as you will read, this was not my original intention.  At the beginning of my journey in early 2012, I dreamed that my stories would be picked up by a successful publishing house.  To accomplish this dream, I set my sights on finding a literary agent.  I was pumped!  It took me months and months of writing, re-writing, and then editing over and over again.  I worked hard to perfect my six stories about the X-tails, and then moved on to perfecting a query letter that would catch the attention of a literary agent.

I fondly remember sending off my first query letter with an attached manuscript to my number one agent of choice.  It took me an evening of researching this agent, and learning as much as I could about her.  I wanted my query letter to have a personal touch.  As I pressed “Send” on my email, I felt a rush of adrenaline and nerves!  A few minutes after sending that email, I hit “Refresh,” foolishly thinking that I may have already received a response from the agent.  There was nothing.  I went to bed, but woke up in the middle of the night and went upstairs to check the computer.  Still nothing.  I truly believed that the X-tails and my stories were going to be quickly snatched up.

L.A. Fielding in his office

The X-tails, to me, made sense.  I had created an illustrated children’s book series that would be respected by parents that grew up skateboarding, snowboarding, skiing, biking, surfing, or whatever else- there are so many sports out there. I also wrote these stories with a message in mind, and a story line that would be enjoyed by children and parents of all backgrounds. Although these books were for kids, I aimed to make these books as realistic as possible.  I fell in love with the characters and I knew that children would too.  Writing about the X-tails was so much fun!  But of course, I am biased.  After all, I am the author.     

Days and weeks went by after sending out my first query letter, and then finally, I received a response.  Likely it was a generic response, and it went like this: “I carefully read and consider each submission I receive, and I’m sorry to say that yours is not quite right for me.  Agenting is subjective and while I couldn’t take on your project, another agent may well feel differently.  I wish you the very best of luck with your writing in the future and thank you for thinking of me.”  I decided I’d better step it up.  I began to send out letters and emails to multiple agents.  After all, at the rate I was going, it could be years before an agent took on my project. 

L.A. Fielding with his children

I sent query letter after query letter, and all I got was the same sort of answer: “I’ve discussed with him, and unfortunately this project is not a good match for his current list” or “thanks for sending but this project doesn’t seem quite right for us.”

An agent’s workload was put in perspective with this response: “Unfortunately, we are unable to offer representation as it is not right for us at this time.  Our agency receives over 700 submissions per month and we only take on a few new clients per year.” It was discouraging.  After months of querying agents, I had gone from believing in the X-tails, to believing that maybe I was wrong.

L.A. Fielding in his office

I did receive a few positive responses from agents, which gave me hope and helped to keep up my motivation.  But it was something else that completely restored the belief in the X-tails and in myself as an author. It was at my local ski hill, Powder King, where I took the opportunity to read my stories to the local kids.  The response overwhelmed me.  As I read my stories, I was overcome with smiles, giggles, and suspenseful looks from the kids.  I received the same sort of response from the local school in Prince George, and from my children’s daycare.  To think that I was getting such a great response from my stories which did not have illustrations yet, I wondered what would happen when my stories were illustrated.

It was at that point when I decided I needed to go in a different direction to have my books published, and that is another chapter in my long journey…

– L.A. Fielding