What Makes Agents Pay Attention - Words from a Top Literary Agent

By: Jeff Herman

I'm an agent, but I can't fullly explain what makes me or my colleagues pay extra attention when being pitched, whether it be verbal, digital or by post. However, I am able to retroactively recall what makes me respond either faster or with more curiosity, and chances are good that whatever affects me also pertains to my colleagues.

Yesterday I received in the mail an envelope addressed by hand and shaped like a circle. It immediately aroused my curiosity, especially when I wasn't sure how or where to open it. It was low tech and roughly hand-made. The sender apparently cut two pieces of thick paper into equal sized circles, and securely sealed them together to form a circular envelope. There wasn't a designated place to open it, which puzzled me and caused me to stall my day. I gently tore it open and found a standard query letter, also shaped like a circle. This mundane discovery was anti-climatic, somehow I expected this intriguing aberration to just keep on giving. Still, I felt an obligation to promptly read and respond to the query, and that's the point of this story. If it was a conventional rectangular letter, it would have been relegated to the bottom of a large pile of identical envelopes to be read . . .eventually. The circle beat my system and beat the rectangles.

There are two obvious conclusions here. 1) My days are f#*%&%@ fascinating. 2) Dare to be creatively different and you just might move to the head of the line and be immediately noticed.

How did I respond to the circular query letter? That's not the point. At the end of the drama it was just another query letter, one of billions that have either been sent or will be through eternity. But because it was shaped like a circle, it made me alter my routine to its advantage. Whatever the writer's fate was, it happened faster, and it happened. Find ways to make your goals happen in a universe filled with goals seeking fulfillment.

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