Hello! (And the requisite "how I got my agent / book deal" post)

First of all, if you’re visiting my new author website - THANK YOU! It’s beautiful, isn’t it?! (Shout out to the crew at Writers House for making it happen!) My debut contemporary YA, THE LUCKY ONES, is coming out 2020 from Delacorte Press / Random House… which is NUTS!!! I still don’t quite believe that this Word doc that's lived on my computer for the past two+ years will someday be a … real book. That I can, like, hold in my hand (!?!??!!) and that (even more !?!??!) other people WILL READ IT (god willing).

Find it on GOODREADS here!

What a weird thing. Growing up, authors always seemed like these mythical beasts … sort of like musicians. These amazing people who create things that really SPEAK to so many people. I could name so many books that I read as the years passed that changed me, helped me, saved me. And, I hope, my book will do that for people someday soon, too.

When I was querying, I lived and breathed HOW I GOT MY AGENT / BOOK DEAL posts… I read pretty much every one of them that exist on the internet (I like to know things!) and they helped me through it. Thank you to everyone out there who’s written one. Especially those of you who have written on the submission process - which is MUCH harder to find info on!

So, to pay it forward, here’s what my personal experience was. I’ll do it sort of in bullet points so it’s an easier read:

  1. I wrote a book and queried it, somehow with the (very misguided) expectation that I would immediately find an agent and then… stuff. (Back then, I dont think I really knew what happened after you got an agent. I was just like, oh! I’ll get an agent and it’ll all be great! (Haaaaaa.)

  2. After querying… god like 100ish agents (I dont want to look at specific details…too depressing) and getting some (not many) full / partial requests… I got a R&R from an AMAZING agent. It came when I had almost given up on the book… popped into my inbox one night when I was out to dinner with my husband and I was thrilled! A R&R! That means she likes me…she really likes me!

  3. Then I stalled. I got worried I’d do it wrong. I procrastinated harddddd. It took me almost 8 months to finish, and I did. Right before November 8, 2016 (ugh ugh ugh). So, needless to say, it felt extremely inappropriate to send on this new exciting draft to said agent because… I mean, do I have to say it!? The entire country (or at least a large part of it) was in mourning. Sigh.

  4. That said, I sent it a few weeks later, still feeling a bit awkward about it.

  5. And then I waited.

  6. And waited

  7. And waited

  8. And nothing.

  9. Which… was sad. But, then again, I had taken my sweet time with things. Which wasn’t smart on my end.

  10. And then she passed. (Insert crying face.)

  11. Which was sad. BUT I had just had a kid and I had started a new book a few months prior (it’s the best/most annoying advice people give you: while you’re waiting, start something new!) (Great because, it’s SMART… annoying because UGH SOMETHING NEW I DONT WANNA WAH WAH WAH)

  12. SO I moved on. To my new book. Which felt…good.

  13. Really good. I finished it a few months later, had my parents and husband and a couple other people (who are lovely but not, like, professional writers) read it, and then queried (I DO NOT RECOMMEND DOING THIS — DONT BE LIKE ME — DONT BE TOO SCARED TO REACH OUT TO OTHER WRITERS AND FIND CP’S!! THEY ARE IMPORTANT!)

  14. I was lucky in that I did have a good query letter, and I got a great response. Right away. I knew I had something, then.

  15. But, my #1 top agency, who had read my last book and liked it but didn’t take it on (obviously), read it — FAST — and said… it needs too much work. Would you be willing to do an exclusive R&R with us.

  16. Now, here’s where the internet is useful only to a certain point. I googled the SHIT out of exclusive R&Rs because … I didn’t know what to do! I’d always heard exclusive anything = no good. Also, I’d only been querying a week and I already had a 50% request rate, which was so different than my last book! I knew I had something, but .. maybe it needed more work !? (I know, I know… that’s why people recommend getting CPs… I know, sigh.) Imposter syndrome is a REAL thing.

  17. I finally did what everyone I asked on writing message boards advised AGAINST doing — I let all the agents who had my full know that I had an exclusive R&R offer and would they mind getting back to me in 2 weeks??

  18. Apparently that’s a fairly normal thing to do (whew) because they all were super super kind and said absolutely!

  19. And when I heard from all of them — they all seemed to agree — the book needed work. And they kindly stepped aside so I could pursue the initial R&R offer.

  20. I did not daly on it this time.

  21. I gave myself a time limit. I took three months. I edited the HELL out of my book. I looked at it from top to bottom, tightened things that she hadn’t even mentioned, dug into it deep.

  22. And sent it back.

  23. And waited

  24. AGH


  26. And then about 5 weeks after I sent it to her, Genevieve from Writers House (Amy Berkower’s assistant and the in house editor there - WHO IS A GENIUS LOVELY ANGEL LADY) wrote back and told me that she thought I had done a great job on it, and if Amy wasn’t interested (because she wasn’t taking much YA at the time), could she show it to other agents there!?

  27. Um, duh

  28. And then four days later (including the weekend) I got an email from Genevieve, which I saw the second I woke up Monday morning, which said “Amy passed BUT I showed it to Andrea Morrison here, and she loves it and could I connect you two”

  29. kjroiehroieyrq38yr83qryhq3krhqlk3r (MIND EXPLODES)

  30. Um, yes

  31. So she did and Andrea and I chatted the next day and she offered rep and .. I could not feel luckier. Andrea is THE BEST (best best best BEST!!) and I’m thrilled to be a part of Writers House.

  32. This is getting really long, so perhaps I will save my “how I got my book deal” for the next post.

  33. If you read this far, you’re amazing.

  34. xo

Liz Lawson

Over 7 years in the music industry, Liz has worked as a music journalist (Paste Magazine, Tiny Mix Tapes), a music publicist (Orange Twin Records, former home of Neutral Milk Hotel), and now a music supervisor. She started her career working for illustrious music sup's Gary Calamar and Alyson Vidoli, assisting on shows like True Blood, Dexter, and House, and moved on to learn as a music coordinator under Carrie Hughes (The Hills), where she worked on several shows under the Viacom blanket (MTV, CMT, VH1). Never one to rest of her laurels, she managed to scored her own show (Black Ink Crew, VH1) several months later, and soon found a home music sup'ing that show and multiple indie films, including "May the Best Man Win" which premiered at the SXSW Film Festival in 2014 and was directed and written by Andrew O'Connor of Peep Show fame. She's currently branding her business as Vinyl Rules Music Supervision, and is currently music sup'ing Black Ink Crew and well as two indie films: A Light Beneath Their Feet, starring Taryn Manning (Orange is the New Black) and Madison Davenport, (Noah). Zen Dog, starring Kyle Gallner (the upcoming Clint Eastwood picture American Sniper, Veronica Mars) and Clea DuVall (Girl, Interrupted, Argo).