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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Agent Kelly Mortimer Talks About the Golden Heart

Kelly Mortimer of the Mortimer Literary Agency represents clients in both the ABA and the CBA. Kelly gives each client personal attention, including manuscript editing. She’s in the top 10 of the Publishers Marketplace Top 100 Dealmakers - Romance Category, a two-time nominee for the American Christian Fiction Writers “Agent of the Year” Award, and her agency is Romance Writers of America recognized. Kelly writes a monthly column for Christian Fiction Online magazine called “Gotta Get It.” Kelly is also President and CEO of Underdog Press. And if you're looking for up-to-the-minute publishing news, subscribe to her Perils of Publishing newsletter.

Kelly is referred to as "The Extreme Agent," and after hearing the story of her first Golden Heart experience with a client, you'll understand why.


Ah, the Golden Heart...

I’m going back to a time when my life was simpler. I’d made the switch from writing to become an agent. My first client: one of my writer-friends. Her manuscript made the finals in the GH, and we were ecstatic. Buuut, her manuscript wasn’t as good as her partial.

Problem number one: What to do? She’d sent her full to a Steeple Hill editor before I signed her. (Rejection.) She’d sent this same manuscript to the Golden Heart judges. RWA allows finalists to send in a cleaner copy of the full, if they have one. Yikes! We didn’t have much time.

Me being an editing agent, I went to work. Some of her scenes went into graphic medical detail. (Cut ’em.) I found a subplot that didn’t work. (Ditched it.) Needed some work on mechanics. (Fixed all.) We worked through the wee hours of many mornings to meet RWA’s guidelines, but we made it.

Problem number two: She was going to the RWA National conference. (Not me.) I wasn’t looking for an agent anymore, and I couldn’t take appointments, as my agency wasn’t RWA recognized at the time. My friend/client begged me to go on more than one occasion, but I’d vowed I wouldn’t use household money for agency-related expenses. I told her, “No dice.”

Disappointment isn’t a strong enough word, for either of us. If she won, I’d forever regret I’d missed her shining moment, but what could I do? Wait a minute; I could do anything if I believed I could.

I checked out fares for the flights. Yikes! I talked to RWA, who informed me registration was closed, and there were no hotel rooms left. (No problemo.)

My friend/client invited me to share her room every night except for Saturday, as her hubby would be there. I went on a chapter loop to see if I could find someone who’d share their room for the other night. (Bingo.) You didn’t read this, but I managed to get RWA to register me. (Impossible feat for nearly everyone but moi.) But what about the money for the flight? Hmm. I even figured that one out. I sold my wedding china on eBay. Sigh.

When her category came up I sat with clenched fists, breath held … waiting. SHE WON! Boo-yah! She thanked me for my “eagle eye for editing” in her acceptance speech, and my heart nearly burst with pride for her.

Couldn't find her after the ceremony, then someone almost knocked me down from behind. (Guess who?) And that wasn't the best part. After we got home, a Steeple Hill editor called me. They’d read the manuscript I’d edited that they’d previously rejected, and made an offer. (Double sigh.)


Now that's working the contest. Any questions for Kelly?

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At 8:47 AM, Blogger Mo H said...

Thanks for coming to the WNP today to blog about the GH. One question our readers might have is how much time did your client have to revise her ms, once she received the request from the GH judge?

At 12:37 PM, Blogger Patricia W. said...

Hi Kelly! Thanks for dropping in.

Question 1: If she hadn't won and Steeple Hill hadn't called, but you knew you had this new and improved ms, what was your plan? Would you have shopped it or asked her to take her newfound knowledge and go back to the drawing board?

Question 2: Do you provide that kind of assistance to your clients when not faced with a contest deadline? Or, do you point them in the right direction, maybe a list of recommended professional editors, to help them clean up the manuscript?

At 1:03 PM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

Kelly, I just want to say thanks for being our guest. That's a great Golden Heart story! (but I feel sad about your wedding china).

At 2:19 PM, Blogger Prisakiss said...

Wow, Kelly, your blog post is a whirlwind of "can do" attitude! Thanks for sharing your experience as well as your drive with us.

I'd be interested in hearing your responses to Question 1 & 2 posted earlier.

Thanks for your time!


At 3:19 PM, Blogger Esri Rose said...

I think Kelly must be having a busy day, but keep checking, folks. I'm sure she'll get back to us.

At 4:19 PM, Blogger Kelly Mortimer said...

Hi Mo,

Sorry. I got tangled up in something. You would haveta ask a question I can't answer. Honestly, I don't remember. A week? Don't quote me on that!


At 4:23 PM, Blogger Kelly Mortimer said...

Hi Patricia,

She'd already taken her knowledge back to the drawing board. We'd edited the entire manuscript.

As to shopping it, I would have tried the few places available for a shorter manuscript, asked for a resubmit at Steeple Hill, or lengthen it for sale as a single title.

If none of those worked, we'd write and sell another manuscript, and try that book again later.


At 4:26 PM, Blogger Kelly Mortimer said...

Hi Patricia,

Question 2: I provide that level of assistance to all my clients. I only sign pre-published writers, and most can't afford professional editing, which isn't always reliable.

Once I sell their manuscript and they have an editor, I back off and let their new editor tell them what they want.


At 4:28 PM, Blogger Kelly Mortimer said...

Hi Diane,

Glad you enjoyed the story. Dishes are just things. You can't replace a special moment. I don't regret it.


At 4:30 PM, Blogger Kelly Mortimer said...

Hi Pris,

Henry Ford said, "If you think you can do something or you think you can't, either way, you're right."

Failure is not an option I consider :)


At 2:07 PM, Blogger Esri Rose said...

Thanks to Kelly for this inside look at agenting. And she just got some good news: She won the ACFW "Agent of the Year" award this year!

At 8:21 AM, Blogger Norah Wilson said...

Wohoo, Kelly, on the Agent of the Year award! Way to go!


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