In the next four days I'll be attending several festive events that bring together writers, agents and others of our ilk. None of these events are writing conferences or involve scheduled pitch sessions.
Nonetheless they are an excellent way to meet agents IF and only if you don't behave like a yahoo.
Here are some suggestions for staying on the right track:
1. If you are at a cocktail party and see an agent you'd like to meet, say "hello, my name is Celia Cephalopod, how are you?"
I will then say "Hello Celia, nice to meet you." Conversation will ensue.
2. If you are at a dinner and find yourself seated next to an agent, say "hello, my name is Celia Cephalopod, how are you?"
3. If you find yourself in the elevator with the agent of your dreams you say "hello, my name is Celia Cephalopod, how are you?"
Notice none of those phrases include are you an agent?, what are you looking for? can I query you? can I pitch you my book?
You'll notice the sentence I've given you is a general, pleasant friendly greeting. That's how you meet and talk to an agent. Like they were people. Of course, we're not, but pretend for awhile, ok?
I was at a party recently with several dozen writers. I ended up sheltering next to one I'd known from a previous event to avoid the other writers swooping around the room. My pal was talking to two other writers. I had a chance to visit with them, and make a connection. I encouraged them both to query me. I have their names in my date book, and I'll remember them when they turn up in the inbox.
And all they had to do to get my interest? Stand there, and not be yahoos.
I'm frustrated and exasperated in turn with how simple this seems to me, yet no matter how much I rant, it never seems to get better.