This is what I gather from what I read on the net: It is not encouraging:
The publishing world already has all the agents it needs.
Agents already have all the clients they need.this is just not true
Editors work only through agents, whom they use as first readers.neither is this
Editors do not want to hear from outsiders.
Realistically, therefore, outsiders are just S.O.L.and I don't think this is either, but more on it later
You didn't take rhetoric or logic in college did you? Spent too much time reading novels before breakfast no doubt.
Agents don't have all the clients they need because some current clients aren't going to be publishing books in ten years and agents will still need to make money. That means that many agents are ACTIVELY looking for the new writers now who will pay the bills in ten years.
As substantive proof of this I refer to you any agency website: make a list of 100 agencies. How many aren't accepting queries at all? I can think of two: Nicole Aragi and ICM. I didn't look, that's just from memory.
I'm not accepting queries at present but everyone else at FinePrint is.
I actually buttonholed an agent one time and, without mentioning your name, quoted your advice that knowing someone is not important. She looked incredulous and asked what I thought was important if knowing The Right People was not important and again without mentioning your name quoted your advice to “Just write well, that’s all.” The response?
“Write well? Are you kidding? HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA.”
I interpreted that as disagreement. Publishing is about Knowing Somebody.
So should I try to raise dodo birds in Alaska instead, or keep writing?
While raising dodo birds in Alaska is a fine skill to acquire (there's a book in that by the way, just in case this novel thing doesn't work out) let's actually talk about your underlying question: Do you have to know someone to get a foot in the door?
Up till about 8pm Wednesday night I would have said no, scoffed in fact, and read you the list of my clients that arrived over the transom (about 75% of them right now.)
But last Wednesday I had the rare pleasure of attending the Center For Fiction presentation by Nelson DeMille. He was interviewed by Jonathan Santlofer and one of the questions he was asked was "Do you have to live in NYC to get a foot in the door?" which is akin to "do you have to know someone."
And Nelson DeMille said "yes you do" and I about fell off my chair. But he made a case for his opinion and here it is: when you're at the heart of publishing (and publishing is still very much a NYC based industry) you have more opportunities to meet the people who can make things happen for you.
And I thought of the number of people who've published books recently who have jobs in publishing, or connections to people in publishing, and it's not a small percentage.
So, yes, it helps if you're here. And it helps if you're meeting people who can make stuff happen for you.
And if you want to take that information and use it as the reason to believe you'll never make it, well, you should. Giving up cause someone tells you it's hard means you don't have what it takes to be
There's a rule about that in fact: Be Tenacious