How Writers Made It BIG: Gillian Flynn

“Every author kind of secretly wants their book to be made into a movie,” said New York Times bestselling author, Gillian Flynn.

Gillian and I have two things in common: writing (but of course), and Kansas City. So it's no surprise that I wanted to do a post on the kick-ass, story guru from my hometown.

Like most aspiring writers, Gillian found herself writing between working. At the time she was employed as a film and book writer for Entertainment Weekly Magazine.

“I would write for a while and get busy with work and not write for awhile,” she said. “I was covering movies at the time so I was flying all over the place to film sets everywhere."

By 2006, she published her first book, Sharp Objects. In 2009, she published her second book, Dark Places. And by July 4th, 2012, her third book hit No 1 on NYT bestseller list after only a month of its release. If you ask me: she was gone, girl. (ha, get it?)

Okay, okay, dad puns aside, Gillian sky-rocketed with her novel, Gone Girl. With the unexpected twists and turns, and the enticing tale of her main characters' toxic marriage, the book was picked up as a movie and projected to hit over $300 million before its release.

And that, my friends, is what I call real-life goals.

Now at 47, all of Gillian's books are optioned for film, and she has officially clocked in at one of the world's top-earning writers. Can someone say, cha ching?

Why Gone Girl worked for Flynn:

Well, Gillian says, "Oh, I finally figured out how to write a book." That, and she was able to tackle the push-pull dynamics between a long-term relationship from a woman and a man's perspective. This story wasn't exactly a happy story, and I think the realness of it contributed to its success. 

Who is Gillian's Agent?

I couldn't find a ton of information on Gillian's publishing/querying story. I imagine, since she already had some great credentials under her belt with her prior job, she was seen as a pretty legit writer. She was picked up by the Leving | Greenberg | Rostan Literary Agency--try saying that three times fast--and was agented by Stephanie Rostan. Her books went on to be officially published by Penguin Random House. 

How can we learn from Gillian?

We can learn from Gillian by knowing that even if our debut novel doesn't do as good as we hoped, we can still make it to the top by continuing what we love: writing. 

We can also note that killing our darlings isn't a bad thing--it's a superb move. 


That's it for this blog post, friends!

Drop a comment below on your reaction, or an author you'd like me to cover next time.  

Till next time, blog world. 
And remember: don't stop writing. 

What Happens After The Agent?

What happens after an agent has offered you representation?
Complete bliss, of course.

I'm kidding.
Sort of . . .

You see, one thing I haven't read a whole lot about is the process one goes through after an agent has offered them representation.

For forever, it feels like, I've been so caught up in just getting an agent. So when I was offered representation, I didn't know what to do.

I smiled, sure, but what were the protocols?

Here's what I learned:

Step One (this is actually version two of step one because the first obvious step is to celebrate):

After an agent has offered you representation, it is courtesy to give other agents you have queried time to consider you. I received awesome advice from a friend who had recently been picked up from an agent as well. She found this link, and it was helpful for me as I dug through my sent emails to let other agents know what was going on. Giving agents one/two weeks to respond is average.

I also used this format from the website above:

"Subject: OFFER OF REPRESENTATION (Title) (Category) (Genre)

Dear (Agent’s name),

I am writing to let you know that I have received an offer of representation for my (Category), (Title), which I submitted to you in (month). I am reattaching the full manuscript for your convenience below. Do this, it’s easier on everyone

I am looking to close out all pending submissions by the end of business on (date). If you are interested in the manuscript, please let me know before then. I’d be thrilled to discuss it with you. If you need more time, please do let me know.

I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you again for your consideration."

Step Two:

In this step, for me, I asked a lot of questions. It's so important to know who you're working with and what you should expect in this journey.

Definitely take time to write down questions that are important to you. Even if you forget, hopefully your agent is the kind of person that takes questions year round.

Step Three: 

At this point, I did more contemplating. I did more research on agents, and I gave other agents time to respond. I asked more experienced writers what I should expect, moving forward. I took time to get my head together.

I felt good about my choice of agent.
I also felt confident in the mission Rossano had planned out for me.

Step Four:

After receiving the contract, I read it over a few times. It became one of my best friends. I also had my grandmother look over it for her wisdom, and I handed it over to my boyfriend to look at since he's a paralegal and deals with many more contracts than I do.

And when I felt confident, I signed it.
Then, along with other members of the TZLA family, I was added to the author's list.

And the list continues . . .

Step Five (the step that constantly repeats itself): 


This is probably my favorite part of the agent process. It's great and all to receive feedback on your book from your friends and beta readers, but receiving feedback from an agent is all the more insightful! You get the good and the gritty. You get to know why the agent was compelled to choose your MS, and you get to learn what you need to work on to make your MS all the more appealing to publishers.

To wrap it up, I hope my experience has helped all of you as you journey to find agents, choose agents, and begin the editing process.

This is my personal experience, and of course, everyone has a different story. Heck, my story isn't even finished yet. :)

However, I do love hearing from all of you.
Feel free to share your agent stories below!

Till next time!

How Writers Made It BIG: Gillian Flynn

“Every author kind of secretly wants their book to be made into a movie,” said New York Times bestselling author, Gillian Flynn. http...