Saturday, July 17, 2010

It's like dating all over again: The Agent Hunt

Peacocks: the quintessential dating metaphor

Finding the right agent for you and your work is kinda like dating and courtship. It has a lot to do with personal taste and, sometimes, fate.

I was a bit of a serial dater, I must admit. I never had trouble finding somebody to hit dinner and a movie with.

But that doesn't mean I didn't get rejected...a LOT.

Now that I'm happily hitched to my hubz (that's way too many H's in one sentence), I look at that previous life with not a twinge of longing. You couldn't pay me enough to go back in time to those years. Nope. Not even that much.

I'm finding the agent hunt to be quite similar, with one very clear difference so far:

I can hardly even get a first date!

It's all about the, I mean query letter. If it doesn't sparkle like a vampire (without actually mentioning vampires), then it's an automatic NO. And sometimes, they don't even call you back!!

(Wow. This metaphor is working horrifyingly well.)

If they do call you back because they think your makeup's pretty, then you get to go on an actual first date: the partial submission (sometimes they request the full right off, but it's the same as a partial request b/c they can still read five pages and decide you stink).

Then you get to wait, which is kind of like waiting for a call from that boy you just gave your phone number to. Sometimes he never does call.

If you're lucky and he likes you (or she, as is maybe more often the case with literary agents), you'll get a second date: THE FULL MANUSCRIPT!!

This is the holy grail of the dating/querying metaphor.

Not only does your makeup sparkle, but you ordered more than a salad and dazzled him with your obscure Duke Nukem computer gaming knowledge (apparently, we're dating in high school in the 90s). He like-likes you! He's just not ready for any kind of commitment yet. Who would be after only one date?

So you move past dinner and a movie to the really-get-to-know-you specialty date! This can be anything that really lets your personality show, like paint-balling in some hay (10 Things I Hate About You), a beatnik poetry reading (So I Married An Axe Murderer), taking a ferry to meet his family (How to Lose A Guy in Ten Days), or even skinny dipping (Hair, the movie).

Any one of these activities could represent your full manuscript. But at this point, agents are not just reading your book. Nuh uh. Not if they're really interested in you. They're also twitter-stalking you, just like you twitter-stalked them before you queried. They're checking out your blog to see if you share their ideals, passion for animals (mainly cats, I'm told), and maybe even political leanings (yikes--I hope not). And they're googling you to read every review you ever wrote on

If they like what they see, you might just get....THE CALL.

This is not a myth.

I'm pretty sure it's not. I've never received THE CALL myself, but I hear it is fabulous. Like a marriage proposal. And now we reach the end of our metaphor. At this point, you get to pick an agent, accept his or her proposal of marriage representation, and live happily ever after....

and--we all hope--never be single again.

(Any agented writers out there, or agents, feel free to set me straight if I'm getting this wrong. I'd love to read your true stories, especially if they're romantic. *tweengirl sigh*)


  1. Great metaphor! Really enjoyed your post. I'm an underpublished writer too and in the agent hunting scene as you are. Good luck!

  2. Awesome, awesome metaphor!. :D
    You'll get The Call soon enough! Oh and I see the status bar on the side...Good luck with your new WIP!

  3. lol, I love this. I'm bookmarking it so I can write up a blog review for you. Awesome! ^^

  4. cvwriter - Good luck to you as well! We underpublished writers can encourage each other through the crazy serial dating years, and your comment really made my night!

    M.J. - Thanks for the luck. My YA paranormal romance will need it. ;-)

    amkuska - Glad you enjoyed it. Link to your blog when you're done. I love finding new blogging writers.

    And here, some words of wisdom from twitter:
    @nisajaie said:
    (@katrinalantznov) Very much so. The Agent hunt can be exhausting and emotionally expensive.

    -so true, nisajaie. So true!

  5. This was exactly what I needed after getting a "You are nice, but I think we should just be friends" e-mail today from what I thought would be a perfect agent for me. (sigh) Thank you so much for the laugh and the metaphor.

  6. This is so absolutely true! What a great analogy.

  7. Heh. Maybe this will help us YA writers not get too far removed from the pangs of uncertainty and rejection that our characters and target audience sometimes face!

    Good luck with your dating^h^h^h^h^h^h^h agent hunt!

  8. Brilliant metaphor, Katrina! Here's to hoping we get that marriage proposal ;)

  9. Hey Katrina

    I loved your post. I'm sure there is the perfect agent out there for you somewhere.

    Unfortunately I'm one of those people you dream of but secretly hate. I hooked up with my publisher without an agent (first book, first publisher, first pitch). Last week I pitched book #2 to her it went well. I guess I'm up to the Second Date (she's agreed to read the whole thing). It definitely feels like the same thing. I'm waiting for the call. How long do I wait? How long is polite?

    Now if a "nice" author like you goes through an Agent - what does that make me (Eek!). How can I keep it safe? Maybe I need my Dad to keep an eye on me - but wait - I am a Dad! (Hmm that DOES sound like something I would write...).

    Keep posting! My guess some likely Agent/Publisher will see your fame on come along in no time.




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