I started querying on Something Beautiful back at the end of 2012, before I really knew anything. I was a year out of college, I had written this story that I loved and that was very close to my heart, and I was naive about the process and what it would take to actually get something published. I thought I didn't need to listen to everyone's advice. I'll put it another way.
I was stupid.
So I started throwing my story at people and assuming that I'd get lucky, that someone would take the time to notice me and that someone would bite. Needless to say, they didn't, because I wasn't putting in the time or effort to do the research and find people who actually fit the story. So what does a 23-year-old do?
I got mad at the agents.
I blamed them for not taking a closer look at my work and for not seeing what a treasure I had on my hands. When I look back on it, on my journal entries and blog posts, I can see that I was stupid. It's embarrassing, to be completely honest. How could they see what I had to offer when I didn't know how to market it?
Let's fast forward to the present day.
Since the year began and I've dived back into my writing and publishing dreams, I've started following - and interacting with - a lot of literary agents on the Twitter. I've started being able to relate to them on a personal level. What do I mean?
I mean, agents are people, too.
And guess what else?
"Literary agent" is just their job title.
I had to start relating it to my life. There was a time when I was trying to help my company choose a software system thingy for our internal communications platform. I researched a bunch of companies and set up meetings with them. They demoed for us, and then I took the information - both about the system and about the demo itself - back to my boss for consideration. We took everything into account. For example, one of the systems wouldn't load on the day of the demo, and we couldn't help but think - is this a regular occurrence? Are we going to have to worry about the system not working randomly? And, sadly, we crossed them off the list.
That's basically what potential agents are doing. They're looking at what they were presented with as an entire package and making a decision. A lot of things don't matter if you don't peak their interest right away. They're just doing their jobs. They're trying to find clients, essentially. And that is a very subjective business.
I'm planning on taking all of this into account as I dive back into researching literary agents. I want to present me as a whole, but also my project as a whole. And I also want to make sure I'm presenting to the right person. The research is key.
As they said in the (very sad) movie (based on the book that I haven't read yet but is on my list) Me and Earl and the Dying Girl - respect the research.
P.S. On an unrelated note, sorry this is a day late! I was traveling home from 10 days away and I didn't have the energy to finish writing when I arrived last night. So here it is!