Since the craziness of Pitch Wars has died down, I've been thinking a lot about what I've learned that's worth sharing. I wanted to do a post about what to consider when you get an offer, but my Pitch Wars friend Rosalyn shared this amazing post which covers it better than I can.
One thing I've noticed that gets mentioned a lot in the Facebook Pitch Wars mentees group I'm a part of are "dream agents." If you're a writer, you've probably heard the term before. You probably even have one (or several). I know I did. There have been a few over the years: agents that I had decided would be the perfect person to not only represent my novel but also be a wonderful mentor, advocate, and (if I'm being honest) friend. Each of these dream agents was a female roughly my age who lived in or near New York, had a strong web-presence, and just seemed like someone I'd get along with in real life. I envisioned going up to NY for lunch together after she sold my novel. I was convinced (usually by something they said in an email to me - all of these dream agents had requested novels of mine over the years) that this person was the right fit for me. She just needed to come to her senses and realize it, already.
Then, one fateful day, one of these dream agents opened up her inbox for queries wherein a quick (and personalized) response was guaranteed. Several agents do this from time to time, even if they are usually a no-response-means-no kind of agent, or if they normally use a form rejection. This particular agent had requested two of my previous novels and both times invited me to send her my next project. So I did! I couldn't wait for that personalized request to come rolling my way.
Only it wasn't a request. It was a rejection. A pretty brutal one. A single line saying she despised one of the comps I'd used. No reference to my other novels. I'm pretty sure she stopped reading at that line (which was unfortunate because it was one of the first lines of my query). I'd gotten pretty used to rejection by that point, but this one stung. How could my dream agent fail to see that we were perfect for each other?
And that's when I realized, she wasn't my dream agent. Clearly we were not meant to be. I'd heard other wiser, more experienced writers say that there was no such thing as a dream agent. I'd heard many agents say that writers need to get over the idea. The best agent, these writers and agents said, was the agent who loved your book and wanted to work with you. And you wouldn't know who that agent was until they came along and offered to represent your novel.
And until that moment, I had believed all these wiser and more experienced people were wrong. It was actually kind of freeing to learn the truth. From then on, my search parameters changed to reputable agents who were looking for the kind of book I was writing. Period. I no longer had a specific agent in mind. That was the beauty of Pitch Wars - a bunch of agents I probably wouldn't have even considered (not because they weren't good agents - they were all fabulous! - but because they didn't necessarily fit my "dream agent" vision) saw my pitch and requested. This included male agents, agents who weren't in New York, agents who were older or younger, agents I didn't even know about, and big-shot agents I never thought would be interested in little old me. My very first offer came from an agent who didn't fit ANY of my previous dream agent criteria. Another offer came from someone who met ALL the criteria. Both agents were amazing. But the third agent ended up being the best fit.
So here's where I'd like to offer up some advice of my own: your dream agent isn't just the agent who loves your novel and wants to work with you (as anyone who has had multiple offers can tell you). The right agent is the one who loves your novel, wants to work with you, and is someone YOU click with. One person's dream agent (heck, even your own) might just not be right, for many different reasons. And that's okay.
Query widely, query smartly, be open-minded, and follow your heart. And you just might find an agent who is even better than you dreamed they'd be.