Friday, August 22, 2014

Guest Post: How Sonia Hartl got her agent!

Today I'm letting my 2013 PitchWars mentee Sonia Hartl take over my blog so she can tell you her epic and amazing "How I Got My Agent" Story. Without any further babble from me, here's Sonia!

About the Author:

Sonia Hartl lives in Michigan with her husband and two daughters. She’s a member of SCBWI and her work has appeared in several publications including The Writers Post JournalBoston Literary Magazine, and the anthology Bearing NorthWhen she isn’t writing or snuggling with her family, she can be found trying out new restaurants or singing bad karaoke. 

This was an incredibly long and surprisingly short journey for me, all at the same time.

In October of 2013 I’d just trunked my second manuscript, and was finishing up my third. I found writing something new was the only way I could distract myself from hitting refresh on my inbox during the query process. It was different than anything I’d ever written. I loved it with my whole heart, but I also knew I had a lot to learn and needed some guidance. The always awesome Brenda Drake was hosting Pitch Wars in December/January, so I spent the bulk of November polishing my new shiny, trading pages with other mentee hopefuls, and working up a query.

Long story short, I got picked by the amazingly talented Dannie Morin! She taught me so much in five weeks, it was like going through writing boot camp. And I was stoked, because I wanted to work my ass off, grow as a writer, and learn from the best. I got all that and more. I’m still beyond grateful for the experience. I firmly believe I am where I’m at today because of it. While I didn’t end up with an agent for that manuscript, I got requests, four times more than my previous two manuscripts combined. It was progress.

Since I always write something new while querying, I started a project I’d had sitting in the back of my mind. But halfway into this new shiny, something weird happened. Another idea started occupying my mind. I took notes on this idea, started doing research, and told myself I’d get to it next. But it wouldn’t leave me alone. It got to the point where I couldn’t put any words to my other WIP because all I wanted to do was get this YA contemporary on paper RTFN.

So I did.

And this story poured out of me. I had the first draft down in just over three weeks. I revised, got feedback, revised, more feedback, and so on. After a month and a half of polishing I sent my first round of queries. It was the fastest I’d ever started querying after completing a first draft, but I think of manuscripts like houses (or wedding dresses for people who didn’t get married at the courthouse). When it’s right, you just know.

Two weeks into querying, I got an email from an agent who requested my full saying she was enjoying my story so far. I was like OMG, OMG, OMG this has to be a good sign, right? But I tried not to read too much into it. I totally kept it together. Sort of. Then three days later she asked for a phone call, and I was like OMG, OMG, OMG this can’t be happening this soon, it will probably be an R&R. Because self-doubt.

But it wasn’t.

It was The Call. Cue internal squeees while I awkwardly fumbled my way through the conversation and tried not to vomit from all the nerves. I always pictured myself being calm and mildly witty during The Call. The consummate professional. Yeah. I wasn’t any of those things. But thankfully she still wanted to rep me. I asked her oodles of questions, and all of her answers were fantastic. I knew right away she was someone who got me and my story, and I’d really enjoy working with her.

I took a week to let the other agents who I had my ms, query, and last ms know I had an offer. My emotional pendulum swung from anxious to flailing all week as more offers of rep came in. All of them were wonderful, and I would’ve been lucky to work with any one of them, but the original offering agent was the best fit for me.

I’m so excited to be represented by Rebecca Podos of Rees Literary Agency! She’s everything I want in an agent, her vision for my story completely matches mine, and because when it’s right, you just know.

Final stats:

Queries sent: 60
Requests: 22
Offers of rep: 6

During the query process I learned three important things that will stick with me for life: Work hard, stay positive, and never, ever give up.


  1. Congratulations! Best of luck forward!

  2. LOVE LOVE LOVE this story!!! So incredibly happy for you Sonia! And thanks for letting me be a part of your journey as one of your CP's! I cannot wait to see you published!

  3. That's a great story! And 6 offers of rep? You go girl! :) That's inspiring :)

  4. Woo, Sonia! Can't wait to see Coming Clean on shelves :D

  5. Sonia, that is such a great story. Thanks for sharing!

  6. I'm late to comment, but this beautiful beginning for your career has been inspiring me for weeks. You're a fantastic writer and you deserve every bit of it. <3 Now go write me another book boyfriend. ;)