Many books on publishing will advise writers to research agents before choosing to query them. As far as I’m concerned, this isn’t just advise–it’s a straight up RULE. A seasoned agent is going to know if your query is a “one size fits all.” And if they’re receiving anywhere between 20-50 queries a day, chances are they’re going to immediatly toss the emails that don’t appear to be customized. But here’s something I’ve learned about the research process that those books aren’t going to tell you:
Investing your time will quickly turn into investing your heart.
You’re going to type out a small list of agents and you’re going to spend quality time researching their submission guidelines, sales records, interviews, blogs, etc. And through all that digging, there’s going to be one or two (or several!) agents that you really really really like. And you’re REALLY going to want them to like you back. This can be a difficult hope to stomach.
Tonight, my husband was helping me research this one agent I’ve had my eye on. The more and more we combed the info that was available to us, the more and more intrigued I got. She likes what I like! Her taste is my taste! She repped that book?! I LOVE that book! This is exactly the kind of woman I want representing my work! The neural activity in my brain splintered into several tracks of thought and I couldn’t wait to get started on what I would say to her in my query. I was in cyber love!
This type of enthusiasm feels great in the moment, but then you start to overanalyze your approach and you start to think about how bad it’s going to feel if your query’s journey into that agent’s inbox gets thrown back with a lovely “one size fits all” rejection letter. Ouch. Hello, unrequited cyber love.
Still, you have to put yourself out there! Rejection or not, you’re not going to get anywhere in any industry without gambling your hopes for a desirable outcome. I’ve never had to endure online dating, but I imagine researching agents online is a lot like sifting through match.com: You find someone you can see yourself getting involved with. You feel giddy and born-again; your faith in love is BACK and you’re ready to throw your heart (your book) on the table and shout, “This is who I am and this is what I’ve got to offer! What’dya say?” And then……..you wait for their reply.
So, like so many others that have come before me, and so many that will come after, I shall wait with hope and faith that my agent is out there somewhere, searching for me while I search for them. 🙂