Think William Tell . . .
You know the story. Threatened with death, the only way you and your son could live is if you are able to shoot the apple off the head of your son. You’re an expert with the crossbow . . . but it’s your son!
I can imagine looking down that crossbow at that tiny apple so far away but having trouble seeing it. Seeing only the head of your son.
What does this have to do with writing or being an agent?
Sometimes I feel this way targeting opportunities for my clients. At any given time a project may only fit at one place in the whole publishing industry. Within a short period of time that place may be gone but now it only fits at one place and that place is at another house. It is all about getting the right product in just the right hands at just the right time. That sounds to me like as small a target as that apple.
Even finding the right hands is not easy. There may be a number of acquisition people at each house that might be a possibility for the project. All of them have the ability to turn a submission down but maybe only one of them is right for it, who might decide to accept it. If I send to the wrong one I’ve shot my client instead of the apple.
That’s why I spend so much time simply trying to see who is publishing what, what genre’s they are interested in. Not only what the publishing house is, but what specific editor was interested in it. That’s important because personal tastes enter into it. There are editors that are good friends of mine but who have never acquired anything from me. Our tastes are different. Things I decide to represent are not what they like to read. Other editors have similar tastes and we work very well together.
It helps when I get feedback from submissions other than “not a fit,” something that tells me more about what they like and what they don’t care for. Otherwise I have to depend on other sources to better understand who is interested in publishing what.
It’s all about trying to make the apple bigger.