Question of the day: Do you have to have connetions to get an agent? It feels like everyone who lands an agent has some sort of in.
Huh. This question has popped up a few times as of late in my inbox, and it surprises me every time.
For the record, I had absolutely no connection to my agent when she signed me. And I can think of several friends for whom this is also true. Do connections help? Absolutely. Referrals are a great way to get your foot in the door (though no guarantee), and obviously, sure, if you know someone who knows someone try to milk that. But what matters at the end of all of this is whether or not you've written a strong manuscript. And even BEFORE that, what matters most critically is how kickass your query letter is. I cannot stress this enough.
A friend recently sent me a query letter, and I suggested a few tweaks which he totally implemented. He sent me the revision, and it totally rocked. And from what I've heard since, he's had a lot of success in agent interest because of that inital letter. It was witty, biting, interesting and made you want to read the rest of the ms. You have to GRAB AGENTS FROM THE VERY FIRST SENTENCE, because if you don't, even if the rest of your letter is the most incredible thing they'll read, they likely won't even make it that far: there are too many other queries in their inbox.
So how did I land my agent? I wrote what I think is a kickass query letter (which I'll try to find and post at some point). It generated a lot of interest, and I was fortunate to have a selection of all very good agents. No connections. No referrals. No calls on my behalf. My letter spoke on my behalf, and you can be damned sure that since I was sending it out into the world as a representation of my work, it was awesome. End of story.
Other authors: did you find your agent via connections or all on your own?