Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Research Never Stops

A few days ago, a writing buddy and I swapped agent lists. We’ve each got a piece in relatively the same genre and we’re both querying agents. (Although I often deal directly with publishers, my gut instinct for this piece is that it would be in my best interest to have an agent for it).

So, my friend and I swapped lists, to see if one of us had come up with someone the other one missed.

The interesting thing is that, out of a list of 30 or so agents, we only had three crossovers.

At first, I thought, “Wow! This means I have 27 more options!”

And then, I decided to do my own research on them. Yes, I spent time on each of those twenty-seven names, checking them out with Predators and Editors or asking other friends in the genre if they knew of them, surfing web sites and interviews, to get a better sense of how we’d work as dance partners.

Four of them seemed a worthwhile match.

Now, I knew that my friend previously researched the legitimacy of the list, so I wasn’t worried about that. But, simply because we both had pieces that loosely fit the same overall genre, I was not convinced that her list would fit my book. And I was right.

It took a long time, but it was worth it. I’ve honed my query letter to individualize it for each of these four. And, I admit, there are one or two separate from the quartet who I think are a stretch, but I’m going to try for them anyway. But the rest of them aren’t going to get a query because I don’t think we’re a good match.

The more research you do yourself into each agency, the more you familiarize yourself with the individual point of view, mission and list, the more you can decide if and how you’d fit. The better your information and individualization, the better chance you’ll get for an enthusiastic response to read your work instead of a form rejection.

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