Finding An Agent Analogies

Submission protocol, query etiquette, and strategies that work
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Finding An Agent Analogies

Post by christi » March 6th, 2010, 12:33 pm

We've all heard the analogies going around about what it is like to try to find an agent:

Speed dating.
A ho looking for a pimp.
Winning the lottery.

Of those three, I just want to declare that finding an agent is NOTHING like winning a lottery. To win a lottery, you absently pull a dollar out of your pocket while picking up a candy bar and 44oz Mt Dew, then vaguely remember later to check your numbers and discover you are a millionaire. Published does NOT = rich, and there's a whole lot more work involved than spending a dollar.

I think that the most accurate analogy to finding an agent is: Fishing. Only there's a lake the size of Erie, you are in a dinghy with one pole, there's only 1000 fish in the lake, and 25,000 other fishers.

Your query is your bait. Agents even tell you PUT YOUR HOOK IN YOUR QUERY. To tempt the elusive agent fish, your bait must be better than the other hook-impaled queries out there. Don't cover your query with color. The agent fish is wise to this flashy tactic. Your bait must be tempting, yes, but also MORE tempting than fishermanBob. The agent fish gets full easily and will only eat the attached manuscripts that truly hold its interest. Sometimes it eats the query, but spits out the hook and this is discouraging. Sometimes it swallows the query, the hook, part of the manuscript, and then still gets away.

Don't get discouraged! There are other fish in the Erie, yes? And like other fish there, you do not eat the agent fish. It's more like a trophy fish. You hang it on the wall, stuffed, and tell your friends at cocktail parties about the one that almost got away.

Does anyone else have an agent search analogy to share?
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Re: Finding An Agent Analogies

Post by BlancheKing » March 6th, 2010, 2:33 pm

Fishing is a good analogy. I also think it's like "applying for brand name college"...

You fit everything you've worked on for the past 4-5 years onto a single piece of paper (your resume/query), double check for misspellings, keep pesky family members/friends from messing with your letter/app as part of a bad joke, send it out, listen to the advice of those who tried before you, listen to sad rejection stories, wait, wonder why some people were accepted by ____ and some were not, tell your first choice of agents/colleges that it is your first choice, tell the rest you love them too, wait, curl up in a ball when your first choice rejects you, hear about someone else who was accepted by said first choice, cry, wait for the rest of the apps/letters to come back, cry, wait, send supplements/partials to those who ask for it, wait, see that you have been wait-listed/ offered revisions, submit more materials (revisions/ follow up letters), wait, get rejected, cry, wait, get accepted, and dance. If you're lucky and get more than one offer, rejoice and pick...
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Re: Finding An Agent Analogies

Post by d minus » March 6th, 2010, 3:53 pm

I think it's like being a shoe in a giant shoe store... like a DSW.
Agents are milling around the aisles, looking for something perfect, and you're thinking "I know I'm just a penny loafer, but I'm classic and I'm comfortable and I'll work well with those jeans and we can really 'go places together.'" And the agents are thinking, "I'm only interested in boots, heels, slingbacks and flats... in leather or suede, and with a rounded toe." Maybe an agent tries you on, but it's not going to be a good fit, because he/she wears a size 13/10, which is NOT little old you.

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Re: Finding An Agent Analogies

Post by casnow » March 7th, 2010, 11:31 am

It's like searching for shipwrecks/treasure... you do a ton of research up front, you come up with a plan (plot), you get the boat, sonar, and dive gear (novel), you cast out onto the water and dive in (query), and even though everything that you've done might be really good, you might not find your bounty on that expedition. It takes more than being really good. You have to be really good, and you have to be lucky. The seas have to be in your favor, the visibility good, the currents not to strong, etc... if any one thing is wrong that day, even if you are in the right place you fail. IN querying, maybe the agent had a bad night and is a little sleepy, maybe they just read the BEST QUERY EVER right before yours, maybe they got a phone call right in the middle of reading yours or maybe one sentence just doesn't sit right with them... whatever it is, it just takes one little factor to go against you.

However, you can try and try and try every day until the conditions are right, and you can query and query and query until you find an agent that digs it, and then you have it. You've found your shipwreck, you've got an agent.

Then you find out there isn't any gold on board and you're broke... then you find out your agent got you a $2500 advance, and your book only sales 172 copies... and you're broke.

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Re: Finding An Agent Analogies

Post by EvelynEhrlich » March 7th, 2010, 10:16 pm

I don't have an analogy better than the ones you all have offered, but I just wanted to say to casnow: that last line cracked me up. Thanks for the laugh. :)

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Re: Finding An Agent Analogies

Post by Ryan » March 8th, 2010, 11:01 am

Been fishing since I could walk. I tie all my own flies and take great pride in my angling. I agree with the analogy. Sometimes one goes to great lengths to imitate a particular insect to entice a trout. Adding a bit of this feather, clipping a little of this, teasing a bit of that. And then there's the whole presentation.....

Hopefully the patience and skills from fishing will transfer over to this business. Who knows though. Once I catch one, I might decided to throw it back. :)
My love of fly fishing and surfing connects me to rivers and the ocean. Time with water reminds me to pursue those silly little streams of thought that run rampant in my head.

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Re: Finding An Agent Analogies

Post by JaEvans » March 18th, 2010, 11:46 pm

On a positive note I would say that finding an agent is like pieces of a puzzle. When you find the right one, it fits beautifully.
"Life is a tragedy for those who feel, a comedy for those who think" Horace Walpole

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