CAROL How did you find your agent?
You always hear how finding an agent is a lot like finding a marriage partner. Communication is key, as well as common core values, goals, ideas about the industry, and a clear understanding of how each other works. I was really fortunate. I sent her one story about a painting horse which she loved. Then she asked me to send her thumbnails to show I knew how to pace and tell the story through pictures. I passed those interviews and that is when she offered me representation. She is so passionate about the industry and very particular about the product we put out for submission. We try to talk monthly and engage almost daily via social media. I love having her by my side. She can handle the business of getting my books in front of the right people so I can focus on creating.
CAROL: How do you work together with Danielle now?
JENN: We try to talk on the phone at least once a month. I share what I am working on or the "next great idea." Danielle will give me her feedback on where to focus based on the market and what she is hearing editors request.
#2 Be patient. We are such an instant gratification oriented society. Slow down. Take your time. Allow your voice/style to develop before launching it out into the world. Make certain it is the image you truly want to portray. I've learned this with the illustration side, the hard way. I rushed some pieces and then had to go back and re-work them once the dust settled. I am still learning this lesson on the writing side. Something magical happens when you allow work to marinate a bit.
#3 Be involved. Get involved in your local SCBWI chapter. Go to conferences, not to be discovered, but to absorb and learn. Be involved in critique groups. It's amazing how much you'll grow and discover through the editorial process.
#4 Be persistent. This industry is full of high/low moments. Learn to ride the the sweet spot of the wake so you don't get beaten around so much. Creativity is a process and not always linear. Find ways to unwind - I knit, exercise, ride horses, do yoga and get myself unstuck often in those moments when I'm not staring at a blinking cursor on a screen. Set achievable goals for yourself and don't overload your plate.
#5 Write a mission and vision statement for your career. I did this in 2012 and it helped me stay focused on the tasks I needed to accomplish to complete my mission. It was one of the biggest steps I took in moving my career forward. I taped it up in my studio.