How I Tripped Over My Literary Agent

When I started calling myself a ‘legit’ writer, I sought out a lot of people in the industry. Those adventures never went the way I wanted. More often than not, I left the meeting frustrated that I didn’t get what I asked for.

No one gave feedback on my query letter, but they’d tell me how to construct a good story. As much as I had failed in my perceived mission, I got the tools I needed to plot my course long-term. They were all fruitful meetings.

What held me back and made me frustrated was the need to achieve a finite goal at the expense of a broader one. The Law of Attraction, prayer, and to some extent Being Positive are all finite, specific requests. They’re the north star – fixed high above everything else. How would it be to set sail, when you could only utilize that one star — glossing over the waves, the angles of the wind, the sounds of the boat, and the salt in the air?

What can you ask the wind?
Can you make demands of the sea and be understood?

Fixating on one specific want may make you miss the aid you need, and greatly annoy your friends who deal with your venting.

I met my agent, Lynn Brown, completely by accident. At the San Francisco Writer’s Conference, I did agent speed dating. Basically, you have three minutes to impress the agent you sit with. Not only was Lynn not planning to take queries at that conference, she wound up at speed dating as a place holder for someone else. While on line for a more well-known agent, I caught a glimpse of something shiny — her earrings, she always has fabulous earrings — and wandered over to her table. I just wanted to practice pitching my book. I had no idea who she was, and the agent’s name on the table clearly wasn’t hers.

She wasn’t planning to take submissions, and I took a risk hopping out of a long line to pitch to someone who wasn’t on my list. Neither of us had any expectations; but we discovered we have the same vision.

I couldn’t have planned that.

Whether it’s the business side — like marketing and networking — or the intuitive side – like listening to your characters — a wide net helps more than a narrow one. Hell, making friends follows this model. So too does the flow of your story. You can’t know where a relationship will lead. All you can do is keep your eyes peeled and mind open — ready for whatever comes.

I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”
― Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul

But, instead of what our imagination makes us suppose and which we worthless try to discover, life gives us something that we could hardly imagine.”
― Marcel Proust


Serendipity ain’t just a book by Stephen Cosgrove




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