I can be such a dolt when it comes to the Internet. Something happens, I'm a part of something, and I start talking about it like it's the greatest thing since pumpkin spice lattes. That being said, yesterday, I was notified about a live broadcast of a talk being given on the campus of my university. I'm an online student, which makes my commute to New Hampshire (where said university is located) much faster. One of the writing professors had Melissa Flashman, a literary agent with Trident Media Group, come and speak to his class. He was kind enough to put it up online for anyone interested. (Thus, I was sitting outside of my loft in Georgia and watching a lecture in New Hampshire. Two places at once. My nerdy self proudly declared on Facebook that I had a new superpower :D Don't judge...it brought me joy.)
Most of what she had to say I've heard before, either from other agents or through reading blogs that deal with submissions and agents and all manner of important things. The major things I took away from her talk was her encouragement to writers and her insistence that "fiction is a matter of taste". In other words, if your query is turned down by an agent, don't despair: it is more than likely a case of the agent isn't interested in your topic.
Agents are people too (no really, they are!) and they are subject to the same likes and dislikes we as humble want-to-be-published-authors are. We read what we like and turn our noses up at what we don't. Guess what? So do they. Because your dream agent turned down your work doesn't mean it isn't good. It simply means they weren't interested in fairy zombie frogs at the moment. But here's the secret: someone else may be! The key to all this is finding the agent who is most likely to be interested in what you're writing about.
And how, pray tell, do we do that? She had some info into that as well. Her biggest tip on querying agents was to go through the books you enjoy reading, the books that are most like the story you just finished. See who the author thanks. Their agent is always there. If they aren't named in the book, look the author up online and you're bound to find their agent. Then, when your book is as polished as it's going to get from your hands, query those agents. Add a line in your query that states "I read THIS GREAT BOOK by THIS GREAT AUTHOR, whom you represent. My story is similar and I think you'll enjoy it." Something to that effect.
I don't know about you, but I found this very encouraging. Sometimes, it helps to hear things we may already know from the experts themselves. I had heard all this before, but hearing it from the mouth of an actual literary agent made me take a deep breath and realize that there really is hope for me, for you, for every published author hopeful out there.
Happy Thursday and dream on!