They say it’s like dating. Hunting for an agent I mean. That you put yourself out there, again and again, you meet people, and sometimes you click and sometimes you don’t and just like when you date, you can’t take it personally when the chemistry doesn’t work out.
Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I feel like I need to mention that I’ve never dated. I know. It’s weird. But I never did the whole, go on a few dates, decide if you like the guy, kiss, etc. In each of my relationships I skipped the whole “does he like me? does he not?” part of things and skipped straight to the kissing.
I like kissing. (I know. I’m easy. Don’t tell anyone.)
Even so, even without any dating experience, I have to argue that when it comes to the Great Agent Hunt the dating analogy is flawed.
I mean, unless we’re comparing it to Internet dating, which I know even less about.
Seriously, (and again, have I mentioned that my experience is lacking?) when, in dating, do you have to think back on your life, write a short (one to three paragraph) synopsis of it, throw in a one paragraph bio, add a quick letter of interest about why you’re interested in that person, and email it in the hopes of maybe hearing back sometime in the next three months?
Doesn’t that sound more like applying for a job to you?
You scour the web for people you’d like to work with much the same way you’d research appealing companies. What’s the person’s personality like? What have they accomplished over time? Does it seem like you’d fit in? Once you find someone who seems like a good fit, you pull out the letter you’ve already sent out countless times and tweek it to fit the new situation or overhaul it completely if needed. What do you have in common with the person that you could mention in the intro paragraph? What drew you to them? What can you say that will make you stand out from all the other applicants?
Sending brownies with your query is apparently frowned upon. Sad, but I can see how that could quickly spin out of control.
The end result is the same. When you apply for a job you know there are hundreds of other people doing the exact same thing as you. They’ve worked hard to get where they are, they’re equally qualified. When you query your book, you’re up against hundreds of other writers who have sweat just as much blood and as many tears over their book as you. The only thing that sets you apart is that one little email, an email that can only ever be an inadequate representation of who you really are, a low res 2D representation if you will.
And still, you send out your letter and hope it’s just witty enough to catch an eye and just shiny enough to sustain it, you take a deep breath and move on to the next one, hoping it’s the best you could do, but knowing full well that in the end it’s not just about you, it’s equally about the other person, the person reading it. If there’s no spark there, no matter how wonderful your email might be, it won’t make a jot of difference.
Which I guess really is the same as dating. No matter how authentic you are, no matter how pretty, how well dressed, how witty or shiny you might be, you can’t create that spark and you really can’t take it personally when it doesn’t happen.
And when it does happen? The magic is powerful.
Powerful enough to make me want to kiss people. Though, apparently, much like the brownies that’s also frowned upon. Go figure.