How I Got My Agent with K.C. Held

I attended my first SCBWI Summer Conference in 2011. I was fresh off my stint in the Nevada SCBWI Mentor Program and had a shiny new manuscript I’d just started querying. Before one of the sessions I’d been talking to a fellow attendee who asked me what I was working on. After I described my shiny new middle grade fantasy she suggested I send it to her agent, Kathleen Rushall, as she thought it was something Kathleen would be interested in. When we entered the huge California Ballroom I slid into a row of seats next to a woman who, believe it or not, turned out to be Kathleen Rushall!

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Author K.C. Held

After reading the full, Kathleen ended up passing on the project but was kind enough to refer me to another agent. I ultimately decided to shelve the project, but when it came time to query my next book, a YA mystery, Kathleen was at the top of my list.

I sent her my query for HOLDING COURT in mid-December and figured I wouldn’t hear anything until after the holiday season. Here’s what happened next…

It was the day after Christmas and I heard the telltale ding of an email landing in my inbox. With visions of post-holiday sale notices dancing in my head, I clicked on the envelope icon.

When what to my wondering eyes did appear, but an email I’d been hoping for but hadn’t expected until next year!

Okay, I’ll stop with the Night Before Christmas schtick already.

Was this it? The prelude to the legendary “call?” I sent off a reply and proceeded to wear a ridiculous grin for the rest of the day. A grin that slipped when I became certain that “the call” would consist of a very polite rejection. Or that the hideous coughing plague my preschooler had given me for Christmas would strike in the middle of my phone call, thereby making talking impossible.

I emailed my author friends to make sure I knew the right questions to ask, JUST IN CASE. I googled all things call-related. I started fourteen different craft projects in an effort to distract myself.

At the appointed hour I shooed my noisy family out of the house, popped a cough drop, and proceeded to stare at my phone. Which promptly rang. My pulse booming like a world class beatboxer, I answered.

It was THE CALL!!

I started happy dancing around the house, performing every song in my Just Dance repertoire simultaneously at double speed.

Then I emailed the other agents I was waiting for responses from. Every time an email with the heading “Offer of Representation” hit my inbox I had palpitations. My January decision deadline suddenly felt impossibly far away.

But the longer I waited, the more certain I became I’d already found the agent for me. The agent I happened to sit next to at an SCBWI conference.

It seems fitting that I just registered for my second SCBWI Summer Conference. See you there?


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When a sixteen year-old girl with an embarrassing psychic gift she can’t control takes a job at a castle-turned-dinner theater, all she wants is the chance to wear a fancy gown and ogle her crush from afar, but when she stumbles over a dead body that promptly disappears, she must prove she didn’t hallucinate a dead girl before the killer strikes again.

K.C. HELD was born and raised in California with stopovers in Honduras, Mexico, and France. Married to her high school sweetheart, and mom to two avid bookworms, she holds an MFA in costume design and has worked as a freelance costumer in opera, theater, film and television. To find out more about K.C. and her work, check out her website athttp://www.kcheld.com.


If you have an agent and would like to share how all that wonderfulness happened, please send your story (300-600 words) to acornnewsletter@gmail.com.

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