Posted On August 15, 2012 by Print This Post

The Road to an Agent with Adrienne Giordano

In a perfect world, you sign with your dream agent who sells your manuscript to a well-known publisher for six figures. If only…

RU co-founder and Carina author Adrienne Giordano is back on campus to talk about her search for an agent. Take it away, Adrienne!

Like most things in my publishing career, finding an agent didn’t go according to plan. Looking back on it, this wasn’t a bad thing.

Five years ago, I completed what I considered my first “sellable” manuscript. Meaning, that manuscript was the first one I thought actually had a shot at getting published. At the time, I believed finding an agent would have to be my first step.  After carefully researching agents, I came up with a target list and started querying. I was pleased when I received requests for fulls, but eventually the rejection letters trickled in. Maybe they more than trickled. The bright spot was most of the letters were positive.

I developed a second target list of agents. My theory was (and still is) that finding an agent is similar to finding a spouse. Gotta kiss a lot of frogs before finding the right one.

So, I kept querying.

And querying.

And querying.

Three years and a hundred or so rejections later, I decided my plan of finding an agent needed to be revamped. I was in that treacherous place many writers find themselves. I had a stack of rejections from agents telling me I’d done everything well, but with the tough romantic suspense market, I hadn’t given them the right story.

By that time, I’d completed three manuscripts and thought I’d alter my plan by sending one of them to Carina Press, the digital arm of Harlequin. Six weeks later, I had my first contract. Then my second. Then my third. All without an agent. When my books released, I was overjoyed at the positive reviews and reader excitement, so I sent Carina a proposal for a fourth book in the series.

Fast forward to May of 2012. I had five contracted stories with Carina and an idea for another book in my Private Protectors series. And I hadn’t queried an agent in almost two years.

I still had one manuscript (not a romantic suspense) that I’d written that I wanted to do something with. I knew the manuscript had issues, but wasn’t sure how to fix them. I hired an editor to do a content edit and set about making her suggested changes.

A couple of weeks before I finished the edits, I had lunch with one of my Windy City RWA chapter friends who writes cozy mysteries. At lunch, I told her about the book I was editing. Did I mention this author happens to be a New York Times bestselling author? During lunch, she offered to ask her agent if she’d be interested in my mystery book. To say the offer was unexpected would be an understatement. I’d all but given up on finding an agent. Particularly because I’d been busy with my Carina books. Now though, I’d put all of my hard-earned editing knowledge into fixing up my one remaining unsold book.

Two weeks later, I sent the full manuscript to Laura Blake Peterson at Curtis Brown.

The following day, I had an agent.

Yep, it happened that fast. After all the years of query, rejection, query, rejection, query, rejection, I finally had an agent. And, don’t kill me for saying this, but I wasn’t even looking for one.

I’ve given this a lot of thought and I’m convinced of two things.

1. I strongly believe that I needed to experience the publishing process to know what I truly needed in an agent. I have a terrific relationship with my editor and the team at Carina Press. One of my first questions when first speaking with my soon-to-be-agent was how involved she got in the editorial process. I knew I didn’t want someone in between my editor and I and Laura understood that. Two years ago, I wouldn’t have known that and, for me, it’s an important factor.

2. Back when I first started querying agents, I wasn’t ready for one. I originally wanted an agent I could call and cry to, who would hold my hand and walk me through the publishing process. After going through the publication of five books, I realized the agent I needed five years ago, wasn’t the agent I need now. Today, I don’t necessarily need an agent I can cry to. I have Kelsey and Tracey for that. I don’t need an agent who will check in with me once a week either. What I do need is someone who tells me the brutal truth, can get me a fair deal and is there for me when I’m (as my agent says) ready to cut open a vein. That’s me though. Someone else might need a different agent and there’s nothing wrong with that.

My advice to all writers looking for an agent is to ask yourself what you need. And be honest because nobody else has to see the list. If you know what your specific needs are, you can start looking for agents who are compatible. If you want an agent who will get involved in the editorial process, you can start looking for someone who enjoys that rather than an agent who will simply let you and your editor work it out.

It’s all about asking yourself (and then the potential agent) questions. Hopefully, in the process, you’ll kiss the right frog. 


RU Crew, do have any advice for writers who are looking for an agent?


Please join us on  Friday, August 17th when we host Ask an Editor with Theresa Stevens.


Bio: Adrienne Giordano is a Jersey girl at heart, but now lives in the Midwest with her workaholic husband, sports obsessed son and Buddy the Wheaten Terrorist (Terrier). She is a co-founder of Romance University blog and Lady Jane’s Salon-Naperville, a reading series dedicated to romantic fiction. For more information on Adrienne’s Private Protectors series please visit Adrienne can also be found on Facebook at and Twitter at

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20 Responses to “The Road to an Agent with Adrienne Giordano”

  1. Adrienne –

    Honestly, I love this story because it gives the rest of us hope that we’ll find the right resources at the right times during our careers.

    Do you think the fact that you weren’t looking for an agent somehow helped the process? Or was it just a case of right time, right place?

    The agent search isn’t on my radar screen at the moment, but who knows what’ll happen in the future?


    Posted by Kelsey Browning | August 15, 2012, 4:36 am
    • Hi, Kels! I so love hanging out here with my pals.

      I honestly think it was just the right time and place. We hear about this kind of thing all the time in publishing and I’ve come to believe it. I think I was just ready to find the right agent, the opportunity came about and I was open to it. I think it’s also a testament to the power of networking.

      This business is so crazy, we just never know what can happen and when.

      Posted by Adrienne Giordano | August 15, 2012, 6:41 am
  2. Morning Adrienne!!

    I’m not quite ready for the agent search either, and pretty sure I won’t be ready for it yet for awhile! But congrats to you!

    Will this make any impact on your other book sales? Or will you be able to keep them separate?

    Great to see you again!


    Posted by Carrie Spencer | August 15, 2012, 5:45 am
    • Good morning to you, Carrie.

      Nope, the books contracted before I found Laura won’t be impacted. All of those are mine. Anything going forward will go through the agency.

      I’ve thought about this getting-an-agent thing a lot. I honestly believe I was just ready for Laura to come into my life. I knew I had grown as a writer and after spending 90 minutes on the phone with her, we just clicked. It’s one of those crazy things that happens when the stars align! I love working with her, but I also kissed a lot of frogs to get to her! LOL.

      Posted by Adrienne Giordano | August 15, 2012, 6:49 am
  3. Great post, Adrienne! I’ve followed a similar path and I have to agree that my small press experiences have been invaluable in helping me gain experience, grow as a writer, and uncover the path I want to take with my career. Congratulations!

    Posted by Margaret Ethridge | August 15, 2012, 7:01 am
  4. Thanks, Margaret.

    I’m amazed at how my thinking (and needs) have changed since getting published. Isn’t it fun to realize all that we’ve learned? That alone is an accomplishment! LOL.

    Thank you for popping in.

    Posted by Adrienne Giordano | August 15, 2012, 7:15 am
  5. Hi Adrienne,

    Congratulations on your success! I’ve queried agents and stopped after many rejections. I’m now editing my third book to be published in March.

    Mary Jo

    Posted by Mary Jo Burke | August 15, 2012, 7:23 am
  6. Hi Adrienne, on second thought, you are as pretty in person as you are in your picture. 😛

    I’m glad you posted this. I never considered that the agent I need now isn’t necessarily the agent I’ll need later. Hopefully, our relationship will change as the needs do. And I agree with Kelsey. It’s all about the right resources at the right time.

    Congrats on finding an agent and I hope it helps you get to the next stage of your career!

    Posted by Kat Cantrell | August 15, 2012, 7:27 am
  7. Hi, Kat. Thanks for the compliment!

    I think with the right agent, the relationship grows and changes as the needs do. OMG! It really is a marriage. LOL. It’s true though. If it’s the wrong partner, it probably won’t work for the long haul. Sometimes it takes a while to figure that out though.

    I met with my agent last week and we were talking about what I wanted in the next few years and it was fun to imagine working with her to grow my career.

    Just my two cents anyway!

    Posted by Adrienne Giordano | August 15, 2012, 7:44 am
  8. Huge congratulations on getting an agent!

    When that mystery of yours sells we can celebrate its release at Barnes & Noble’s Mystery Forum! Can you give us any hints (or a blurb) about the story, or is it too soon?

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | August 15, 2012, 7:53 am
  9. Hi, Becke. I’d love to be on the mystery forum with that book. It has sort of a Stephanie Plum feel to it and I had a blast writing it. The characters have been calling to me so I might have to get working on a book two in that series.

    It’s probably too soon for a full blurb, but here’s a logline I worked up: An out-of-work investment banker turned dog walker gets dogjacked. 🙂

    Posted by Adrienne Giordano | August 15, 2012, 10:15 am
  10. Congrats on getting an agent. I love that you believed in your stories and looked for alternatives when your first path to publication didn’t go as planned.

    Posted by PatriciaW | August 15, 2012, 11:27 am
  11. Hey Adrienne, So cool to see you on RU again!! I can’t wait for your mystery/dogjacking book to sell. It would be a great addition to dog boutiques everywhere.

    BUT it will ALWAYS be Coco in my heart. 🙂 Big hugs on having such an awesome year.

    Posted by Tracey Devlyn | August 15, 2012, 7:14 pm
  12. LOL! I still call it Coco too. 🙂

    Big hugs right back for helping me through this crazy year. I would have been lost without you and Kels!

    Posted by Adrienne Giordano | August 15, 2012, 7:30 pm

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