Friday, March 4, 2011

My Dream Agent? Martin Short

A few days back I wrote the following statement on Twitter:

I've been doing the query thing and I had an epiphany! [Enter singing birds and opening of gates]

Querying agents is sort of like going to nightclubs trying to find your spouse. "Hey, I'm an Aries. Wanna get married?" Tough sell.

The person on the other end holds all the cards and all you hold is hope. You must approach the person of interest hoping for the following:
  • You showed up at the right time
  • Person of interest is in the right mood/state of mind
  • You have used the right words
  • You've delivered the pitch in 10 seconds
  • You don't make them vomit (okay so maybe your query won't make anyone vomit... but you get the point)
Don't get these right and... yes, my dear friend, Form Rejection.

In summary, the query letter is like your best pickup line. And for those who have observed people delivering pickup lines, they make for great entertainment, but they don't get you a spouse.

True story: many moons ago, we heard the best (meaning worst) pickup line in the world. There was this guy with a very heavy accent at the bar. He turned to the girl next to him and asked, "Hey Angel, you vant to meet the devil?" result? Form Rejection.

The brilliant marketing guru Seth Godin covers this in his book Permission Marketing. You need to build a relationship, a trust, a bond before you can actually ask for the next big step. It is hard to do that at a nightclub or in a query letter.

But if the query letter has a good hook, you can move to the next step, then the next, and over time, you can build that relationship. So, to close this loop, I am not one who will complain about query letters. There is a method to the madness. Honestly, if I can't sell my novel with a strong hook, who can?

On the other hand, if you want me to talk about Synopsis, man I have a lot of complainin' pent up inside. But that's for another post.

Having said all that, it is a fun game (no, not night clubs -- querying). Yes, I'm a bit odd, but I like games. This game can result in a huge payoff -- you may find your dream agent.

Which leads me to one of my favorite movies of all time. The Big Picture with Kevin Bacon. If you haven't seen it, shame on you. Get it now! It captures the challenges and curves on the road towards breaking into Hollywood. It rocks.

So, I leave you with the scene where young, just-out-of-film-school Kevin Bacon is meeting with an interested agent, played by Martin Short.

I wonder if Mr. Short accepts query letters...

Fight the good fight!


  1. I think finding an agent is more or less like being an appliance salesman in the Home Depot trying to sell the newest microwave to someone that already owns a microwave and really doesn't have much discretionary income.

  2. Classic! In this market, your analogy is probably dead-on!

  3. I had forgotten about that scene. Now I know why I skipped the agent.

  4. Doreen, thanks for the comment. I am sure everyone gets to that point. There are more options today than ever before.

    There was another scene that I tried to find but couldn't. It's where Kevin Bacon tells his agent what he wants to do with his movie and Martin short tells him, "You're making a uuuge (huge) mistake. A uuuuggge mistake." Kevin replies, "Maybe. But it'll be my mistake." Sometimes we need to have the "permission" to make our own mistakes.


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