PageToFame Participant Gets a Literary Agent

06:45


Great news, WEbook member and Round 3 PageToFame participant Josh Vogt was recently scooped up by a literary agent!

Josh was the featured WEbook member in the March newsletter, and we're glad to see one of our rising stars continue to have success. Here's a bit more background:

JVogt - Headshot2Josh Vogt has seen many sides of the publishing industry, including a stint with Simon & Schuster out in NYC. He’s currently working with Scott Hoffman of Folio Literary Management to get his urban fantasy novel, Enter the Janitor, on the shelves. His personal website is JRVogt.com, and he also covers science fiction and fantasy news, book reviews and author interviews as the Speculative Fiction Examiner. Follow him on Twitter @JRVogt.

You can also read an excerpt from Enter the Janitor on his PageToFame book page, here.

Take it away, Josh! 
 
 



I've always heard a lot about persistence being vital to finding a literary agent and getting published. “Well that’s good,” I told myself. “I’m persistent enough to finish a novel, and doubly so in querying agents. It’s only a matter of time…” However, rejections piled up until I had to start a spreadsheet to keep track of them.

In an effort to discover what I might be doing wrong, I attended conferences and participated in online review forums—and quickly realized my mistake. While I persisted through the writing and querying, I’d been hasty when it came to revisions. I didn’t take the proper time and effort to get a true sense of where my stories failed and how they could be reworked into something an agent would want to represent.

Determined to rectify this, I started taking steps such as posting chapters on WEbook to get reader feedback and agent insights. Other efforts included beta readers, and learning how to edit my writing objectively. This all paid off at last when I crossed paths with Scott Hoffman, of Folio Literary Agency.

Meeting Scott:

I went to the 2010 Pike’s Peak Writer’s Conference armed with a heavily revised manuscript and a list of all the attending agents and editors who represented fantasy and science fiction. I ended up being assigned to Scott Hoffman (one of the names on my list) for my scheduled pitch session. I went to the session with the first five pages of my manuscript tucked into my notebook. I didn’t expect to actually bring them out, but I wanted to be prepared for anything.

After I pitched my novel to Scott, he pointed at the pages and asked if they were from that particular story and if he could see them. After an impressive feat of speed-reading, he said he’d like to see the whole manuscript, and that he enjoyed what he saw so far. This left me in a great mood for the rest of the conference, and I emailed him the novel almost the instant I got home.

Following up:

Two months passed. After building up the courage, I emailed Scott just to make sure the manuscript hadn’t ended up in a spam filter. He replied a day later, saying he had indeed received and read it. He’d also given the manuscript to Rachel Vater, another Folio Lit agent, and they’d get back to me once she finished reading it.

Over the following week, I did everything possible to keep myself from obsessing over what their decision would be. Scott emailed me on Monday, asking when I might be available to speak on the phone. We set up an appointment for Wednesday, and I once more distracted myself until the day arrived.

The call came, and Scott started off by saying he and Rachel loved the book and wanted to offer representation. Having taken the call right outside my office, I tried to keep from celebrating too loudly to avoid frightening my coworkers. Afterwards, I had to walk a couple of blocks around the office building to get rid of all the nervous energy. I called my wife to let her know the news, and then my parents right after, as they’d been great supporters of my writing dreams.

Since then, I’ve worked on further revisions based on Scott and Rachel’s feedback and also drawn up a synopsis for a sequel. All the brewing potential is nothing short of thrilling, and I look forward to discovering the new writing and publishing challenges persistence will see me through.

Josh  




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12 comments

  1. That is great news! Way to persevere and grow.
    I've heard that the Pike's Peak conference is particularly good...met a number of kind writers from there at the Denver conference last year.
    Happy writing!

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  2. Congratulations Josh! I wish you the best of luck!

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  3. Thanks, Corey and Zoe! And yes, Zoe, the PPWC is a great conference and I look forward to getting back there next year. Perhaps I'll see you there.

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  4. Lyle Blake Smythers10 August 2010 at 06:37

    Q for Josh: It's hard for me to know where to draw the line on how much revision I'm willing to do for someone else who's not an actual acquisition editor or publisher offering me a contract for money. In other words, how open should I be making changes I don't necessarily agree with, just to get an agent to take me on? I had one agent show an interest in my novel but ultimately reject it because she didn't like stories told in the first person (!!!!) A rather narrow view, I thought. Not something I would be quick to change just to snag representation. Your thoughts?

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  5. Well, it seems you already know one of your boundaries for what you are willing to change. Switch the entire book's POV from first to third? Obviously you don't feel like that would serve the book well. It can be frustrating to see how subjective the publishing industry is; but in that situation, the agent isn't saying your novel is bad--it just isn't right for her. You may very well get in touch with another agent who refuses to work with anything but 1st person novels. Who knows?
    For me, revision is a balance of two things. 1. What are aspects of the story that I don't feel I could compromise on? Would I change the ending if my agent suggested it? Perhaps, especially if we could cook up a better one. Would I strip out all the magical elements of the book and make it historical fiction? No way. And if my agent suggested that, we might need to have a long talk.
    2. A good agent wants your book to succeed. So what you must believe is that any revisions they might suggest are ones intended to improve your book, make it more salable and attractive to editors. Do you have to accept all of their feedback without contest? No, of course not. But should you give their recommendations some serious thought? Absolutely. Otherwise, if you don't believe the agent knows what they're doing, why are you working with them in the first place?
    When seeking representation, you have to consider those same elements. What are the story aspects you won't budge on? If those are the same aspects an agent wants you to change before they will represent you, it might be a good sign you two wouldn't work well together. And if you come across an agent who says, "Hey, I like your book a lot, but could you tweak these few things and then resubmit it?", then it comes down to your belief in that agent's skill and reputation and whether it's worth your time to make those changes in the hope that they'll make a difference.
    Whew. Long answer, but I hope I actually touched on your concerns.

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  6. Lyle Blake Smythers10 August 2010 at 08:51

    Josh, thank you so much for taking the time to respond like this. It's EXTREMELY helpful and reassures me that, if there are certain really basic elements that make the book, on which I feel I cannot compromise, I am not just being a stubborn monster of egotism. OTOH, it also reminds me of the helpfulness of a second opinion and the importance of flexibility. This is what I needed to hear right now.

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  7. Lyle Blake Smythers12 August 2010 at 03:10

    Josh, another question since you were so kind in responding to the first one. You wrote, "I went to the 2010 Pike’s Peak Writer’s Conference ... I ended up being assigned to Scott Hoffman (one of the names on my list) for my scheduled pitch session."
    What? This seems to imply there is a mechanism in place, at least at this particular conference, for signing up for a chance to sit down with an agent and make your pitch. Never heard of this before. Of course, all of my experience with conventions has been science fiction conventions, where aspiring writers carry their manuscripts around and try to corner agents in the bar or buttonhole them in an elevator. How does this work? And is this wonderful feature reflected in the price of the conference? (probably is)

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  8. Lyle Blake Smythers12 August 2010 at 03:45

    The website for registering for this conference won't tell me how much it costs; at the end of the registration process it says, "Your total fees will be displayed on the confirmation page." I wish there was a FAQ section for ignorant newbies.

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  9. Lyle Blake Smythers12 August 2010 at 03:57

    Oops, never mind. I was on the website for the Pikes Peak Writers organization. Then I found that there is a specific homepage for the conference, which does have fees and a FAQ. Goes to show I should be a bit more patient and diligent before firing off posts.

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  10. Heya, Lyle,
    A lot of writing conferences have pitch sessions, yes. These are specifically scheduled time slots (anywhere from 3-15 minutes) where you get one-on-one face time with an agent or editor. Recognize that writing conferences are a bit different from sci-fi and other fan conventions which usually don't offer these kinds of opportunities so directly.
    Pitch sessions are often limited in availability, but so long as you aren't registering for a conference the day before it starts, chances are good they'll still have ones open.
    The best way I've found to approach this is to look at the list of agents and editors planning on attending the conference--most often found on the conference website. The a/e listing will normally have a bio for each one, telling you what they represent or are looking for (or you can look their agencies up online to see for yourself). Then check the registration form to see if there is a spot on it to sign up for pitch sessions. If there is, it will also either give you a checklist of agents who are available, or let you write in your top 3-5 choices for who to meet with. This can be an extra, if minimal fee, or can be included in the overall registration cost.
    Sometimes writers are assigned to an agent or editor who doesn't end up being a good fit for them. The PPWC actually lets writers trade pitch session assignments with each other. And while my official session was with Scott, I also put a lot of effort into meeting at least five other agents and an editor and pitching to them in more casual situations throughout the rest of the conference.
    Here's a great link that delves a bit more into the whole experience: http://www.writing-world.com/publish/pitch.shtml

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  11. Lyle Blake Smythers12 August 2010 at 17:18

    Again, very helpful, Josh. I am inspired to attend the Pikes Peak conference next spring, especially if I can get my current book finished by then.

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  12. Massive congratulations, Josh! Your novel sounds truly unique and intriguing. I'm looking forward to seeing in the local bookstore!

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