An Agent for One Year

That “no blogging on Wednesdays” thing didn’t last very long! I couldn’t help myself, had to post a blog today. You’ll see why…

Another milestone to report! Today marks exactly one year since I made my first submission to publishers in my role as agent. In celebration, I wanted to share some impressions of the first 12 months:

Expectations: I really had no idea what to expect when I made this leap. It’s kind of like when you’re about to become a parent for the first time. You have a lot of information at your fingertips, and you see people all around you who are already doing it, but you never really know what it will be like until you actually do it. I went into this expecting that it might be a good fit for me, and that I’d probably like it. I didn’t expect it to be quite so all-consuming!

The Learning Curve: I’ve worked in publishing for a long time (13 yrs) but each position is unique and requires learning new things and getting to know new people. The steepest part of the learning curve has been figuring out how to stay organized and manage the sheer volume of people, queries, proposals and manuscripts. I confess I find it mind-boggling at times.

The Blog: A big surprise of this year has been the response to this blog… shocking, actually! I have so much fun writing it and interacting with you. I started it because I wanted to engage in conversation with writers and other industry professionals, and it has become all that and more. I love how it keeps me in touch with the concerns of writers, so that I never become too distant or lose touch.

Contracts and Negotiations: I’ve always really enjoyed the business part of publishing, and as much as I’m a “book person” and love the art & craft sides of publishing, I’m also very much at home dealing with the nitty-gritty of contracts and all that other stuff that most writers would rather not have to think about. I love this aspect of being an agent!

Submissions and Rejections: I underestimated how it would affect me when I submit my clients’ work to publishers and get rejections. I’m not saying it feels the same to me as it feels to a writer who has spent a year or more of their life on a book. But still, it hurts. Instead of taking the rejection personally, though, I’m learning what I can from each rejection (so I can become a smarter agent)…and then moving on. (Does that sound like familiar advice???)

The Bottom Line: Though I hope to grow my business in the coming years, I’m pleased with what God has granted me in this first year. I negotiated 10 contracts for a total of 13 books and combined advances of more than a quarter million dollars. And here’s the most exciting part: 9 of my 10 contracts have been for first-time authors. It’s thrilling to call a client on the phone and tell them, “You got your first book deal!” Hands down, this has been the BEST part of being an agent so far.

Although I have days when I question my career choice and/or my sanity, I’m thankful for the role I’m blessed to play in the publishing world: helping great writers get their amazing books into the hands of eager readers.

And…I’m truly excited about what tomorrow will bring.

Rachelle Gardner is a Christian literary agent affiliated with WordServe Literary Group in Colorado.

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


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  4. Dineen A. Miller on November 25, 2008 at 1:44 PM

    >I’m sorry I didn’t catch this last week so I could say CONGRATULATIONS!!! And to many more years to come!

  5. Tiffany Stuart on November 21, 2008 at 6:17 PM

    >To a well lived year as an agent, and to many more!

  6. Jen & Kev on November 20, 2008 at 4:00 PM

    >Wow, how tremendous for you! Congratulations! Doing what you love is gratifying!
    Jeanette Levellie

  7. Jen & Kev on November 20, 2008 at 4:00 PM

    >Wow, how tremendous for you! Congratulations! Doing what you love is gratifying!
    Jeanette Levellie

  8. Kelly H-Y on November 20, 2008 at 3:14 PM

    >Congrats on a successful first year … and good wishes for many more!!!

  9. Mindy Obenhaus on November 20, 2008 at 10:39 AM

    >And to think I didn’t check for a Wednesday post:-)


  10. Marla Taviano on November 20, 2008 at 8:22 AM

    >I missed this post yesterday. I’ll have to start checking on Wednesdays. 🙂

    Congratulations!! I really admire your grit and determination. And your enthusiasm. And your honesty. And your helpfulness. And your knowledge.


  11. Christa Allan on November 20, 2008 at 8:09 AM

    >Okay, I confess. I didn’t cruise by yesterday because I expected to NOT see a post! Should’ve known. . .!

    What a year. I look back over the same period of time in my writing life, and I am deeply grateful for the blessings God has provided me. One of them being having you as my agent.

    The success of your blog reflects, I think, your passion for writers and your honest sharings. You also continue to provide a wealth of information about aspects of writing that have seemed mysterious, if not murky, at times.

    Bravo for all you’ve accomplished this year, for the sacrifices of you and your family,and for the lives you’ve changed.

  12. Anne L.B. on November 20, 2008 at 1:47 AM

    >I’m so pleased to see you so blessed! No doubt your success is in answer to many prayers.

    Thanks for having such a heart for us first time authors.

    May the Lord continue to guide and richly bless you.

  13. Camille Cannon (Eide) on November 19, 2008 at 7:49 PM

    >Ditto Gwen – An amazing first year! You hit the ground running.

    I’m glad the blog turned out to be more than you planned. Who knew you would create such a community with your simple desire to keep a finger on the pulse of writers? I hope it has been a help to you, because it has certainly been an invaluable blessing to so many others! Congratulations and Thanks!

  14. lynnrush on November 19, 2008 at 7:21 PM

    >Rachelle, that’s so very exciting for you and your clients. All your hard work and all that you’ve achieved in the last year is something only God could allow. He rewards patience and perseverance, so congrats in HIS name.

  15. Careann on November 19, 2008 at 4:41 PM

    >Congratulations on this milestone! May the next year be as fulfilling as the last one.

    Carol Garvin

  16. Gwen Stewart on November 19, 2008 at 4:11 PM

    >CONGRATS, Rachelle!

    You sold books in sweet deals. You made writers’ dreams come true by offering representation. You launched a successful blog which is mentioned far and wide, even outside of Christian publishing circles.

    That’s a pretty amazing first year.

    CONGRATS, again!

  17. Mark Adair on November 19, 2008 at 2:45 PM

    >Congratulations Rachelle! You took a big risk and you’re doing well. And you’ve helped out many people in the process. Cheers!

  18. Avily Jerome on November 19, 2008 at 2:42 PM

    >Woo-hoo! Yay Rachelle!

    Keep up the good work!

  19. Thoughts from South Moon on November 19, 2008 at 2:21 PM

    >Congrats, Rachelle. What a great year you’ve had. Keep doing what you’re doing!


  20. Patricia W. on November 19, 2008 at 1:45 PM

    >Congratulations, Rachelle! The first year in any new role is all about learning and carving out your own approach to your new duties. Sounds like you have it all in hand and you’re on your way!

  21. Catherine West on November 19, 2008 at 12:37 PM

    >Congratulations on surviving the first year! I am glad to hear you are still enjoying yourself despite the number of things you have to deal with.
    Thanks for all you do for all of us.

  22. Melanie Avila on November 19, 2008 at 11:57 AM

    >Congratulations on your first year and the many successes you’ve enjoyed! I can’t wait to see what the next year brings for you.

  23. Rachel H. Evans on November 19, 2008 at 11:14 AM

    >It’s hard to believe you’ve only been doing this for a year! You’re such a pro.

    As one of those first-time authors you mentioned, I am just so thankful for your professionalism and hard work. It’s been a dream of mine since I was a kid to write and publish a book, and you helped make it possible.

    …Now if I can just finish it by deadline! 🙂

    Congrats, Rachelle!

  24. Lea Ann McCombs on November 19, 2008 at 10:47 AM

    >Congrats, Rashelle! I think you’re a fantastic agent. I hope my book sends your total number of sales to 11!

    Or 12–we could do a sequel!

  25. Cheryl Barker on November 19, 2008 at 10:14 AM

    >Congrats, Rachelle! I think it’s great that you’ve helped so many first-time authors find success. How exciting!

  26. Pam Halter on November 19, 2008 at 10:12 AM

    >Happy First Year of Agenting! May God bless you with many more years of satisfying work and lots of contracts for hard working authors!

    Thanks for taking the time to blog. I’ve learned different aspects of the business and have been encouraged to keep going.

  27. Mark H. on November 19, 2008 at 10:07 AM

    >Congratulations! Many happy returns.

  28. Matthew C Jones on November 19, 2008 at 9:54 AM

    >Congratulations, Rachelle! The past year has been such a huge learning time for me and I have to admit, most of it I learned from this blog!

    Thanks for everything you’ve done and you’re doing. It’s easy to see that you love your work and the people you work with.

    Grace to you,

  29. Kim Kasch on November 19, 2008 at 9:46 AM

    >It doesn’t seem like a year – time flies when you’re having fun and you’ve been making this fun for us – with your blog.

    What a fun job too being able to Make a Wish for wannabe writers come true.

    Congrats on all the milestones!!!

  30. Daniel F. Case on November 19, 2008 at 9:15 AM

    >Rachelle, I’m sitting here pondering a prosaic problem: Should I with you Happy Birthday, Happy Anniversary, or just say congratulations? Back in my days of selling radio time it would have been easy:

    “Nice job. Now go do it again, but bigger and better.”

    I have no doubt whatsoever that you will do just that. I’m proud to be your client, and looking forward to being one of your 2009 success stories.



  31. Rosslyn Elliott on November 19, 2008 at 9:07 AM

    >Congratulations on making it through year one with such success! I’m looking forward to seeing what next year holds for you.

  32. KINDRED HEART WRITERS on November 19, 2008 at 8:55 AM

    >Congrats! Your honesty and great content in this blog is another aspect of your job to be proud about. Thanks Jean Wise

  33. Karen on November 19, 2008 at 8:05 AM

    >These are the kind of reflections that lead me to believe you will not be a good agent–you will be a great agent! Congratulations on your first year accomplishments.

  34. Deborah Vogts on November 19, 2008 at 8:04 AM

    >Congratulations on your first year, Rachelle! May the years ahead be blessed by God as well.

  35. Susan Helene Gottfried on November 19, 2008 at 7:53 AM

    >Congratulations, Rachelle. Even though I’ve known you’re a relatively new kid on the block, you’ve shown a wisdom and savviness that makes recent (very public) comments by other prominent, more seasoned agents look stupid. If it were between them and you, I’d go with you. And I’m not Christian!

  36. Chatty Kelly on November 19, 2008 at 7:52 AM

    >Congratulations! Thank you for sharing with us. May you continue to be blessed in your career!

  37. Richard Mabry on November 19, 2008 at 7:51 AM

    Congratulations. I’m blessed to call you my friend… and agent.

  38. Kristie on November 19, 2008 at 7:09 AM

    >Congrats, Rachelle! Those are impressive stats, especially with regard to first-time authors. May God continue to richly bless you in this endeavor as agent, and reward you for your faithfulness.

  39. Jessica on November 19, 2008 at 7:02 AM

    >I’m excited for you 🙂
    You seem like a great person who anyone would want to work with! Congrats on the success.