Congratulations to Austin SCBWI member Shachi Kaushik who has signed with agent Lynnette Novak of the Seymour Agency!
We asked Shachi if she’d tell us about her journey, and here’s what she said:
HOW I GOT MY AGENT
Your manuscript has got all the thumps up and is ready to go. Next comes the process of finding an agent.
A few platforms that I explored to find an agent were:
– Twitter – with #MSWL
– Online Picture Book Party Contest
Note: this is not an exhaustive list. These are just some of the platforms that I leveraged in my search for an agent.
I first happened to cross paths with Lynnette Novak (The Seymour Agency) on Twitter. I sent her my manuscript seeing her pinned tweet seeking picture book writers (as below)
Seeking: Adult: suspense/thrillers, horror, contemporary romance, rom-com, & mysteries. YA: suspense/ thrillers, horror, sci-fi, fantasy, mysteries, & contemporary. MG: Horror, sci-fi, fantasy, contemporary, adventure, mysteries, & humor. Picture books too!!! #diversity #MSWL
— Lynnette Novak (@Lynnette_Novak) December 14, 2019
In the meantime, I kept exploring other avenues and sent my manuscript to the Picture Book Party Contest and fortunately it got shortlisted for the PB Party 2020 Agent/Editor Showcase.
Through the Picture Book Party Showcase, handful of agents reached out requesting my work. I promptly followed up to their requests. A few agents including Lynnette requested for my additional work.
In couple of days, Lynnette got back to me expressing keen interest and requesting to have a phone call.
Tip: If you are a Picture Book writer it’s good to be prepared and maintain a pipeline with multiple manuscripts in play. You will be asked for different samples as it increases your chances of getting picked by an agent and eventually by a publisher.
Meeting (phone conversation) to discuss work and align expectations.
Being a first timer, this was an exciting as well a nervous moment for me. I wasn’t really not sure what to expect. Therefore, I reached out to Austin SCBWI Regional Advisor, Samantha M Clark, who helped me prepare my first meeting and guided me throughout the process. Thank you so much ?
Tip: Seek help as needed from an experienced author. This is one of the many benefits of being a SCBWI member.
Now being familiar with the process, I can assure you that it is nothing like a job interview. In fact, I remember it being a candid conversation between me and my agent who was seeking more clarity on my work, my motivation behind writing picture books, my long-term vision and goal, and gauging if a working relationship could be established. Right from the get-go Lynnette made me feel at ease. She spoke of my manuscript’s potential.
As much as the agent, I was also trying to figure out if my agent would be a right fit for me. This is a long-term relationship. Ask as much questions to clear doubts about the process or the final product. You may want to find out your agent’s approach when it comes to showcasing work to publishers: Are they more of Editorial kind, or a Business or Communication style. I can recall Lynnette’s words stating ‘teach my clients how to improve their writing and grow as authors’ was a very important factor for me. Knowing that she herself has been a writer and worked as a freelancer editor, I knew I wanted someone like her. I knew a writer with the editorial eye could help me tweak my work and further enrich my ideas.
Lynnette offered representation to me over the phone. However, I didn’t want to make a decision in haste and requested for a week’s time to get back to her as I was actively waiting to hear back from the other agents.
What did I do in a week’s time?
I did my research by connecting with Lynnette’s clients and received some great feedback on her working style and delivered projects.
At the same time, I also sent an email to other agents who had requested my work to let them know I have an outstanding offer to consider. Letting them know the time sensitivity some of the agents responded within a week’s time, letting me know their thoughts and it was an easier decision for me to make.
Finally, I accepted Lynnette’s offer in writing. I really liked her enthusiasm for my work and felt a great connection and was able to imagine her being part of my picture book writing journey.
After signing the Contract.
I sent another email to other prospective agents letting them know that I have accepted the offer and thanking them for their time and consideration.
My agent and I finally made it official on Social Media using Twitter (#TeamNovak) and also on other platforms consecutively. YAY!!!
For me it was a stay at home celebration maintaining social distancing.
It’s finally Monday! (I know! Who says that?) I’ve been waiting all weekend to welcome @KaushikShachi to #TeamNovak and @seymouragency. Shachi’s #OwnVoices picture books are adorable! #kidlit #WritingCommunity #amwriting
— Lynnette Novak (@Lynnette_Novak) March 30, 2020