Sarah Avery (dr_pretentious) wrote,
Sarah Avery


I was only able to spend one whole day at the Philadelphia Science Fiction Convention, but that one day was more useful than I'd expected the whole weekend to be.

Saturday, the most I saw of the con was that I drove the three hour round trip to Philadelphia in the morning to distribute fliers for Writer's Weekend. It needed to be done. Alas, so did a whole lot of other things I'd been neglecting, so I hurried home to teaching prep, and digging out my dangerously squalid house, and the telephonic demands of all the relatives and in-laws who wanted answers immediately about their various mutually exclusive expectations for our holiday travel plans. Hours on the phone. Hours. Oh, and there was my pining husband, who misses me when I'm off counting words.

Sunday was another matter.

Last year at Philcon, I met this agent who was energetic and witty and generous with her knowledge. She urged me to send her a query when the revisions to the Big Book were done. Her home genre was horror, but she liked fantasy and was hoping to do more with it. And I would have queried her, but by the time the revisions were done, she'd had a series of family emergencies that forced her to close her agency. These days, she's an editor for an ebook outfit. I'm not all that interested in ebooks, but I was interested in telling the erstwhile agent how much I'd appreciated her encouragement last year.

After the last of the panels she was on, we ended up talking for a Good Long Time, and I got to pick her brain about who among her various friends who are still in the agent business is looking for what.

See, if you ask an agents in public about what they're looking for, they'll all give a trite little answer about how they're looking for a good book, a really good book, and if the writing is at the right level of skill and intensity, and grabs them in the gut, all their usual assumptions will go out the window. And to some extent that may be true, but really, all readers have quirks and preferences.

When agents give that spiel in public, the main thing they communicate to their audiences is that they're scared to death of missing out on the next big thing, scared to death that the next Stephen King is in the room, camouflaged among the newbies, and that they'll drive that person to submit elsewhere if they make any specific admissions about their personal taste. It's probably not what the agents intend to communicate, but there you have it. For the writer's purposes, it's a non-answer, regardless of the agents' actual intent.

So I was delighted when this editor/ex-agent I met at Philcon offered to have a look at my work and try a little matchmaking. She also offered to have a look at my synopsis for the Big Book, which I'm pretty sure is not a winning synopsis in its current form. I would never have presumed to ask for so much of her time. What can I say? The woman is uncommonly generous.

I wonder if something will finally catch this time. The gears have all been spinning for so long now without ever engaging, I don't dare expect any specific event to result in forward motion.
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