Let's Talk with Maggie Toussaint

Fishing…for agents and editors

January 4, 2024

A person can learn a lot about life from fishing. On the surface you may consider fishing as either a sport, a recreation, or a means to come-by dinner. It is all of that…and more.

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.

Want to know more about author Maggie Toussaint aka Valona Jones? Visit her websites of https://maggietoussaint.com and https://valonajones.com 

Female photos were purchased from Dreamstime and are royalty-free images.

Posted in Let's Talk, with Maggie Toussaint • Tags: , , , |  27 Comments


27 thoughts on “Fishing…for agents and editors

  1. It would be wonderful if we all could apply preparation, timeliness and patience to every area of life, wouldn’t it? For me, I could use more of these in areas such as getting myself and my mom to appointments – I seem to often find myself running late and getting stressed out in the process of getting us there 😔

    1. Hi Maria! I have that same issue with getting anywhere. No matter how early I start, I seem to need to whole time to get ready, especially if I’m making multiple stops.

  2. I adore the routines and rituals associated with fishing. There are so many tiny enjoyments along the way when catching your dinner — or if it’s a smaller fish — your sandwich. LOL

    1. HI Cheryl! I love fish sandwiches. For many years, I ate my fish blackened or grilled, but then I realized how much I love the texture of fried fish. When I detour from my “what’s good for me” menu, I make sure to balance it out with a salad or the like!

    1. Thanks, Debra. I fished a lot as a kid and when my kids were coming along. As an adult, my exposure to fishing has been mostly limited to our misadventures while owning a boat. Most of my “fishing” in recent years has been on the business side of writing. Hoping I have the right combination of agent and editor now!

  3. This is so very interesting and so very true, I think we all could do so much better and be better off if we apply this to our daily lives. I think I should stop being such a procrastinator, I do get things done, but I am a procrastinator , I do need to work on that for sure. I enjoyed reading this post, thank you so much.

    1. It is natural for us to put off something that is either hard/distasteful to do or that puts us out of our comfort zone. I don’t know a remedy for procrastination, but I do it too, especially when it comes to sorting out tax info.

  4. I don’t know a thing about fishing, but your tips can apply to cooking. Be prepared, have the ingredients handy, chop them or dice up before assembling the dish. The proper preparation makes everything easier as does knowing what your family likes to eat. Same applies to writing, as you said.

    1. I’m glad you see the cooking connection too. Since cooking comes naturally to you, I have no doubt that you embrace preparation and the other principles!

  5. Although I’m not a fisherman , I think we all need some lot more preparation, timeliness, patience and so much more. I’m a major procrastinator and this authors books sound like great reads.

    1. We all have some aspect of our lives that seems to produce procrastination. Being aware of it helps, I think.

  6. I think the fishing rules would apply very well to travel. Planning and preparation, being on time, and definitely patience. Definitely throw in a sense of humor. I would sit for hours, as a kid, fishing and not catch a thing. Big brother would leave after 30 minutes if he didn’t catch anything. And he almost always was the one to catch a fish. Life is not fair!

    1. I understand the life is not fair sentiment! Someone I know always gets a parking spot close to the store; she just naturally has good luck at that. Once I accepted that my luck was different, I wasn’t bothered by that. I have noticed that a cousin is an expert fisherman. He can hook a keeper fish in no time at all. But we only see the part of him catching the fish. We don’t realize all the preparation, patience, and timeliness he put into being in the right place at the right time. I understand your frustration.

  7. I’ve never been fishing, so I don’t know any fishing routines. I need help in the home organization department. I get distracted and end up not getting much done.

    1. Hi Diane! I am always trying to get my closets organized. Seems like fixing one causes the others to get overcrowded. It’s a “whack a mole” kind of task. I think we have to accept interim progress and call it good…

    1. Truth! For every principle in life there are exceptions. I’m sure we all heard to someone who did an elevator pitch and it worked out, same as we heard of the poor authors who pitched and got shot down big time, elevator or not.

  8. That definitely applies to homeschooling. Every day is an exercise in preparation, timeliness, and patience. Somedays more so than others. My kids are worth it though.

    1. Your kids are definitely worth it! You are a great mom for giving them that personalized and prepared instruction.

  9. Interesting comparison. I know I feel like the older I get, the less patience I have with certain things- especially all the drama at work these days.

    1. Work drama. It’s both addictive and counter-productive. Now that I’m retired I don’t have work drama to deal with, but I see that aspect play out in some movies. This has prompted a shift in the type of movies I like, away from Peter Pan types who don’t want to grow up. Life is too short for that, in my opinion.

  10. Areas in my life that could benefit from some fishing know-how Have the patience to wait, be in the moment and just try to enjoy getting out more.

  11. The winner of my Let’s Talk giveaway is Deborah Ortega! Let’s connect via email, Deborah, so that I can get IN THE WICK OF TIME to you. Congratulations!

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