How I Got My Agent by Linda Whalen

Sitting by the phone, my nerves running wild, I double check the prepared list. I’ve checked it at least a hundred times. Maybe not a hundred but it feels that way.

  • Make sure dogs are in another room (no barking)—check

    linda-whalen
    Linda Whalen
  • Glass of water in case throat goes dry—check
  • Notepad and pencil—check
  • Ask family not to interrupt—check

The phone rings and my heart does a flip.

Now, let me back up a bit. When I first started to explore writing for children, I didn’t even know I needed an agent. Thankfully, I followed the advice of my children and got on the computer. I typed “writing for children” in the search bar. Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators came up. Sometimes it pays to listen to your children. An SCBWI conference was being held not too far from where I lived. I admit I was kind of scared to go, but my desire to be a children’s book author was stronger. Conference registration in hand, off I went.

At the conference there were so many people wanting to write for children, writing for children, illustrating for children, publishing books for children, and agents representing children’s book authors and Illustrators. Besides being a mother, my profession as owner/operator of a Child Care Facility carried with it a great love for children. These people loved children, too. I was right at home. However, was I good enough? After all there were so many good authors already. Self-doubt tried to sneak in.

I signed up for critiques, attended more conferences and workshops. Getting to know and appreciate the creativeness and willingness of SCBWI members to help newbies (like me) was a wonderful experience.

It was at one such conference that I met Suzy Williams, the RA for Reno, NV. There were no critique groups in my area, so she steered me to local author Linda Joy Singleton, who in turn introduced me to Danna Smith. They became my critique group plus so much more. By then I had learned the etiquette of looking for an agent from a conference speaker.

  • Be polite and do your research.
  • Don’t take it personally when rejected.
  • Don’t post angry feelings on social media about the agent who rejected you.
  • Don’t ask your friends to recommend you to their agent.

I learned to take rejection as a learning experience and not a career stopper. Because I followed what I’d learned, when one of my writer friends, Linda Joy Singleton, ran into agent Karen Grencik at a conference, she recommended Karen contact me as she thought we would be a good fit. Within a few days Karen had emailed me asking for two Picture Book manuscripts of my work. Linda Joy informed me of her recommendation to Karen and after researching and contacting some of Karen’s clients, I agreed.

There is a lot of good advice out there for finding an agent. You have put in the work—and eventually the right connection is made. No one likes rejection and some of the best things we can do are hone our craft, take advice, learn from speakers, and always take some time to relax. We need to let our creative side flow and not be hindered by the business side of writing.

I believe if you don’t turn away from your love of writing and keep trying to find the right agent you will be able to announce your book sale, like I was with the sale of Little Red Rolls Away.

It may take longer, like it did for me, or might happen sooner, but either way I do believe it will happen.

And so that brings us back to the beginning.

“Hello, this is Karen Grencik. May I please speak with Linda?”

All the right answers and several minutes later, I had an agent. Yay!


Linda will be a featured author at the Great Valley Bookfest in Manteca on October 14, and has two book launch signings coming up, details listed below.
May 21, 11:00 am-1:00 pm   
El Dorado Hills, CA
June 3,  1:00 pm
Davis, CA

little-red-rolls-away-linda-whalen-pbWhen Little Red Barn wakes one morning he finds his animal friends have gone. He’s empty and alone. And then big noisy machines lift him up and put him on truck. As Little Red is transported across the countryside, down a major river, and through city streets, he feels anxious and a little afraid. Where is he going? Who will be there when he reaches his destination?

When Little Red does finally reach his new home in a surprising location, he finds things are even better than before. The story of the little red barn’s relocation and adjustment to a new place will reassure and comfort young readers facing changes in their own lives.


Linda Whalen lives with her husband on a plot of land in Northern California. Born a city kid, she married a farm boy from the midwest and fell in love with country life. Surrounded by family, pets, and bunches of wild creatures, life is never dull. After working in and owning her own childcare facility, Linda now pursues her passion of writing for children. She also enjoys time spent with her art supplies. Visit her at lindawhalenauthor.com.

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