Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Elana Roth Wrap Up

I frequently say (more like ALWAYS say) that this is a business of opinion. Seems like we as writers often forget this. Do you love every book that has ever been published? Do you read every genre? Of course not, and editors and agents are people like us, and therefore, no different. They have opinions and preferences, likes and dislikes.

This was readily apparent in Elana's "Be An Agent for a Day" presentation. She took twenty real query letters she has received (identifying info. removed), including some from authors whose books she decided to rep and sold and she gave us fifteen minutes (!!) to read them and pick six we would follow-up on. This technique was borrowed from Nathan Bransford by her own admission, and it was an eye-opener.

Once you've read through an agent's eyes for even only fifteen minutes, you get how sometimes arbitrary the selection process is. In our group of twenty some odd participants, we were all over the board in terms of opinion, and were also surprised at what Elana revealed to be letters that caused her to request more samples.

For me, this was both depressing and hopeful. Sometimes a submission may be the sixth or sixteenth or six hundredth "whatever you think makes your story unique" story that the agent has seen, and she's just plain tired of them. Or maybe she's just plain tired- you know how things all seem uninteresting when all you want to do is sleep? Yikes! Yet sometimes, despite the query letter having a high degree of suckiness, some little thing tickles an agent into requesting more info. Woo-hoo!

My point is, this is a subjective business. This may work in your favor or not. Get used to it, get rejection, get over it and try again.

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