Part of my job is to constantly talk to editors about what they’re looking for. My biggest pet peeve with these conversations is generality. I imagine authors feel the same way when they talk to agents.
Dear Editors and Agents:
Do yourself a favor, and dig deep when answering the question of what you’re looking for. We all know if you work at a mystery publisher you are looking for mysteries. If you’re talking to an agent and she asks what you’re looking for she doesn’t want to hear what your house publishes (if she doesn’t already know that she should be fired). She wants to hear what kind of book rocks your world.
I get it. You want romance. Great, but so does everyone else at Romance Books. So if I’m choosing between you, Audrey, Frannie, and Jeb how am I to make my choice? Do you have a special passion for Midwestern settings, the South, sports players, rock stars, suspense, dogs, cooking, Paul Rudd…? What book or author do you dream of representing? If you tell me, I might be able to find that for you, and just you, not Jeb.
I’m an agent, I’m a dream maker, I want to make my client’s dreams come true and the right fit is part of making that happen. So, think of it this way, I’m also here to make your dreams come true. It’s not enough to submit urban fantasy to Fantasy Press, I want to find the book that You at Fantasy Press wants to build your career on, because I want my author to be the one you build that career with.
So, next time an agent (or author for you agents) asks what you’re looking for, I want you to dig deep. I want you to wax poetically about the last great book you read, the one you are dying to find your own of. I want to hear about your passions and desires. I want to know why and what I should submit to you versus Audrey, Frannie, or Jeb.
Go big dear editor and agent, because I want to specifics.
An Old, Grizzled Agent