IN PURSUIT OF AN AGENT: GUEST BLOG WITH RICH OCHOA
I’m please to introduce today’s guest blogger. Rich Ochoa is a good friend and a member of my read/critique workshop, Trinity Writers Workshop. In the following blog, he shares his experience of searching for an agent.
After two years and 400 agent queries, followed by a one year contract with a big-time New York agent who managed only flattering rejection emails from all the big publishers, it was clear there was only one alternative to publish my memoir, One Way Ticket to Anywhere–do it myself. I did the paperback through CreateSpace and eBooks through Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
I sold about 500 copies over the first six months. Sales were dwindling to about one a day. Then something amazing happened. Two days after Christmas, I checked my sales. I had 30 paid Kindle downloads the previous day. The title all of a sudden was on several top 100 lists and people were obviously shopping from those lists because the next day I had another 50 downloads, followed by 70 the next day. One Way Ticket to Anywhere was in the top 2000 of all paid Kindle downloads. I was in the top five in one memoir category slugging it out with Drew Brees and that surfer girl who got her arm bit off by a shark and then had a movie made about her.
“Certainly an agent will want to represent me NOW,” I thought. A few days ago, I looped back to my email inbox from two years before and had a read through memory lane. I opened one email from Peter Riva, some agent from New Mexico of all places. He loved the sample chapters I had sent him, and asked for 6 weeks exclusive rights to review the full manuscript.
It was the summer of 2009, and I asked him for his client list. He sent me images of four books that he had recently gotten published. One seemed to be about tattoos for women. I’m not a big fan of tattoos and although I love the mountains in New Mexico, I thought I’d rather have an agent in New York, so I rejected Peter Riva and signed with another agent, in New York, and a year later, my contract with her expired without a book deal.
Twenty-eight months later, I looked at Peter’s email a little differently. The agent who I rejected because I didn’t recognize any of his titles, counted as one of his clients, Stieg Larsson. And the book that failed to persuade me to sign with Peter Riva was one you may have heard of: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
I sent Peter an email a few days ago. Told him I had kicked myself and a hornet’s nest over my decision, and begged him to represent me. He said “no.” I’m now working on my third book which I am considering titling, The Boy Who Picked the Wrong Agent.
Rich is an engineer with years of Information Technology knowledge and experience in the telecommunications field and is the popular author of two fascinating books: One Way Ticket to Anywhere and Life Rolls On.
After several years of distinguished service maintaining the nuclear weapon systems aboard a US Navy Submarine, Rich has settled in Keller, Texas with a really hot girl, Carrie. While serving in the Navy, Rich achieved great athletic success. Competing in the Decathlon at the 1984 Boston College Relays, he finished ninth out of ten competitors after failing to clear the opening height in the high jump. Undeterred, he then entered the pole vault and nabbed eighteenth place in that event. With nothing else to prove he immediately retired from college sports. Twenty years after failing high school algebra, he earned a BS in electrical engineering from the University of Texas. Rich works as an engineering manager at Nokia Mobile Phones, which for many years has helped him live his dream of seeing the world. In 2007, he scaled back his business travel and created a program within Nokia which has, to date, provided technical jobs for over forty ambitious college students. He’s helping his oldest daughter, Lindsay, through college and teaching his younger daughter, Leanna, how to pole vault and solve math problems. Rich is on Facebook and Twitter, and has a website, and blog.