Getting To Know You: Literary Agent Edition
(Tonight’s brew: Jamaica Me Crazy)
Kristen has internet again! Booyah! Thanks to Super Dorothy and Amazing Alice for making all these things that make my head hurt work, while Julie and I sat back and ate pizza. A lot of it. So tonight, for the first time in two weeks, we are coming to you LIVE from Chez Kristen.
While Kristen has had no internet and has been off slinging makeup like a fiend in the hot summer sun, Julie has been researching literary agents. Our books have gone from the creative stage to the sales pitch stage. It’s totally uncharted territory for us, and it’s scary as hell. (Kristen and Julie cough in unison). While Dorothy was working diligently on getting my computer back on-line, Julie shared her notebook full of findings with me. She has literally hundreds of potential suitors, I mean agents, carefully listed with their wish lists, likes and pet peeves.
A ton of research goes into finding the right potential agent. If you were thinking of dating this person, it would be the equivalent of a really thorough Facebook stalking. You have to make sure that the agent is first of all accepting new submissions. Then you have to make sure they are looking for your genre. Then you have to make sure they don’t work for the same agency as another agent that has peaked your interest. Finally, you have to make sure the agency is the right size for a new author.
Writing a novel, you chose your words carefully. But in writing a query letter, you really do seek the approval of a complete stranger based on just a “hook” sentence that makes an agent, who is super busy and inundated with query letters love you, want to hold on to you, and make you a success. Then, after you’re done agonizing over that, you must expand that one killer sentence into a longer, but not too long, paragraph all about your book…which makes it different, smarter, better than every other book in the “slush pile.” Now, end the letter telling the agent all about you….but not too much about you. You have to leave them wanting more, of course. It has to be professional yet convey your personality.
Then you must await your fate for six to eight weeks. It’s like blind dating from hell. They don’t even buy you dinner!
Just like with dating, you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince. So with agents, we will be writing lots of query letters hoping that just one says, “Hey, I think there’s something here. I would like to see more.” All it takes is one.