Monday, June 25, 2007

Networking Through Submissions

I had two very interesting experiences in the same day that I wanted to share with you.

Recently I met an author during a pitch session and her enthusiasm for her book was amazing, it just bubbled over, and naturally it bubbled over onto me. She had a great idea and knew that it was her best book ever. Naturally she made me want to read it and I requested a full. Sadly I passed. I liked the writing and thought the story was a great idea, and of course I loved her, but I just didn’t fall in love with the story. I sent her an email to let her know, and of course I wished her the best of luck (which I do truly mean) and she responded so kindly. She was disappointed, too, but knows this business well enough to know that you have to find an agent who loves the work.

And then, moments later, karma intervened and I got an email from an author pulling her work from consideration. (I had only received it that week, and because it had been an insane week it was relegated to the bottom of the pile.) Anyway, this author had received another offer and, following the advice she learned from me on the blog, she interviewed the agent extensively. She told me who the agent was and that it really felt right. They clicked and she was going to accept the other offer. Ugh! I’m horribly, horribly disappointed, but thrilled. I can’t represent the world, and if I’m not going to do it I want to make sure you end up with someone who works for you, is reputable, and who will do an amazing job. It sounds like this other agent has all of those qualities.

Do you know what both of these brilliant authors did right? They acted professionally. And they started to establish a professional network. Because they acted politely, professionally, and built an email relationship, not only will I track their careers, but I will definitely stop to talk with them at conferences or other events where we might run into each other. I’ll probably buy the books when they come out and, presumably, if either of them are agent hunting again, hopefully they think I acted professionally and will think of me, and I will certainly think of them.

It never hurts to have a network of good people on your side, and that includes other authors, agents, and editors, so why not start when and where you can? I have a huge professional network, as do many, many authors, and I’m sure all of them can tell you how that’s come to help them as their careers move forward.

—Jessica

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