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 makeup...er, 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 amazon.com...
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
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*)