anatomy of a dream agent

Often, when writers are knee deep in querying a book there are references to a dream agent. This label is often applied in the following ways:

“I just queried my dream agent.”

Or, even better:

“My dream agent just requested a partial (or full)!”

What is a dream agent anyway? At the beginning of this process I pictured this mythical dream agent as a major power broker, a mover and shaker in the publishing business. This was the kind of person who eased into cocktail parties with grace; the agent was noted for their witty banter and ability to remember everyone’s names, their families, summer vacation plans and favorite dessert. A person of this caliber is tuned in, reaching beyond trends in publishing and seeking out quality and originality.

That the dream agent would command the attention of editors at the major publishing houses, accomplish a high rate of sales for their clients work was obvious. A dream agent would have a cadre of high profile, bestselling clients that they provide with insightful feedback and comments in regards to career development. I always imagined the dream agent firmly established at a well-known agency, the kind of office buzzing with possibility and important lunch meetings Monday through Friday. That was the basic sketch – perhaps the dream agent is also snappy dresser, with a kick ass ipod shuffle mix, and impeccable taste in wine.

Here is the problem:

“My dream agent just rejected my full manuscript.”

This is a devastating turn of events. How can you go on, without the dream agent touting your talent and promoting your work?

I’ve learned the secret – there is no such thing as a dream agent.

At least not in the way that I imagined initially. If that high-profile agent was my dream agent, well, then they wouldn’t have rejected my book. I am looking for the agent that believes in my work, who loves my book as much as I do. This is akin to dating. If you have a picture in your mind of who might fill the role of significant other, well then you might miss the best thing for you because they scored low on your ten point checklist.

Don’t misunderstand me, the reality of the dream agent is not a form settling for something less. Every agent that is to be queried must be investigated to make sure that they are reputable and have relevant experience. But, here is the thing: I am more open to the new agents in the world. Maybe the up and comer will take a chance and I can be their high-profile client.

Ah, a girl can always dream.

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