Let's Talk with Maggie Toussaint
Fishing…for agents and editors
For the sport part of it, having the right equipment is essential. You wouldn’t show up at a tennis tournament with golf clubs, and you sure wouldn’t show up with the wrong rod, reel, line, bait, or lure for fishing. Each individual element contributes to your success. If they’re wrong for your intended catch, you’re doomed before you start. You have to know what your fish prefers to strike, or you’ll be cloud gazing instead of fishing.
Did you know fishing lines comes in various “tests”? It’s rated for how much weight it is rated to hold. Get the wrong test of line and a bigger fish will snap a lightweight line. Conversely if you use too heavy of a line, it is more visible and even a hungry fish will steer clear of it.
Also, there are different casting techniques, and different types of casting for different environments. For instance, for fly fishing, it sometimes looks as if you are whipping the line through the air.
One more thing about fishing. Fish aren’t equally spaced under the water and waiting for your bait. You must know where the fish will be and when. For saltwater fishing, this is often tide dependent. Time of day matters as well. For instance, some fish feed at dawn and dusk. Bottom line, fisherfolk must be knowledgeable in order to hook their desired catch.
To apply this paradigm to a writer’s life, authors must know what they’re writing, must know who will read it, and often must have the right timing in the market. Plus, when authors fish for an agent or editor, they should they have the right book for that publishing professional.
Being prepared is very important. Have a tag line, a book blurb, a short pitch, a longer pitch, a query letter, and a synopsis ready to go when you begin seeking representation. Establish an online presence on social media and/or a website. Some go the extra mile to have business cards ready and professional head shots.
Practice your pitch ahead of meeting with an agent or editor, whether it is in-person, a video chat, or email correspondence. Reach out to authors you know for polishing suggestions. If your presentation is sloppy or the work isn’t market-ready, no one will take the ‘bait.”
Also, while it’s true agents and editors use elevators at conferences, unless they ask you about your work in the elevator, please respect their privacy and remember they are people too and generally aren’t looking for elevator pitches. While there are many thousands of authors, publishing professionals know each other. Word gets around if an author is rude, ill-prepared, or doesn’t fulfill their contract.
Today’s authors are lucky there’s so much information available online, making it easier to target the right editors and agents. In contrast, back in the snail-mail-only days of submissions, it could take years to emerge from the slush pile. Now you can get rejected or better yet, invited to submit, instantly.
Lastly, there’s another key element to fishing. Waiting. The most successful fisherfolk know how to wait with patience. Their lines don’t twitch unnecessarily. Their hands are connected to the line, their eyes are on the water, but their minds adopt a Zen-like attitude.
By this I mean, they release their expectations and be present in the moment. They come into a state of relaxed awareness. In essence, they are in harmony with the environment.
It’s easy to apply the fishing-readiness paradigm to any area of life, even cooking, which is where I need the most help. The principles can be whittled down to these fundamentals: be prepared, be in the right place, and be on time.
Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone applied preparation, timeliness, and patience to their entire lives? What areas in your life could benefit from some fishing know-how?
Comment with your answer to the question above for a chance to win In the Wick of Time, book 2 of my A Magic Candle Mystery series. The giveaway is available in ebook and hardcover, though the physical book is only available to those with a US mailing address. The winner will be announced on Jan 9 in the comments section of this post.
Have you checked out our site’s January giveaway? Two books are going to one winner. The contest runs from January 1-22, and there are multiple ways to enter. CLICK OVER to the contest.
Female photos were purchased from Dreamstime and are royalty-free images.
Posted in Let's Talk, with Maggie Toussaint • Tags: Fishing for agents and editors, In the Wick of Time, Maggie Toussaint, Valona Jones | 27 Comments