When you send out queries, it’s a very good idea to research your targeted agents as much as possible. There are two reasons for this:
1) You want to show the agent you’ve done your homework and find some little tidbit or morsel of information that will tie your work to her/him in particular so that she/he will be inclined to ask for a partial, if not a full.
2) You want to find out if this is really the right agent for you.
Now, while the first reason is important, in the long run the second reason is what matters most. Is this a person you can really connect with? Do you share similar interests or standards professionally, if not personally? Will there be mutual respect? And even…do you speak the same language? (Notice how this is beginning to sound like a search for a marriage partner. I’ll be blogging more about that on Friday over at ANWA Founder & Friends.)
In all of my research the past few weeks, I came up with a particularly interesting possibility for me, given my experience with the Middle East and intention to write more novels based on that experience. So I dug deeper into some of her blog postings and found a hidden treasure. Besides her interest in that part of the world, Jessica Papin of Dystel & Goderich has a thing for unusual words and she expanded my vocabulary in one of her posts. How many of you have heard of the word reify? (To save you the trouble of looking it up, it means “make (something abstract) more concrete or real.” She wrote:
Whenever I run across it, in a reaction either Proustian or Pavlovian, I am instantly transported back to the days when, as a distraction from wrestling with the works of theorists whose books appeared to be in English but were not, I kept a running list of words that seldom occur outside of graduate school. My favorite was “reify,” but others included “problematic” when used as a noun, or “problemetize” (a verb); “vexed” (usually describing an idea), e.g.”The narrative is a vexed one…” foreground” but only as a verb, as in “I’d like to foreground the problematic…”and “fraught” but only when unaccompanied by “with,” as in “The text is fraught.”
Perhaps I should spend less time researching agents and more time studying the dictionary.