the kinetic pen

wired by words

Why Literary Agents Are Like Argyle Socks


This is how I imagine it going: I’m at the San Francisco Writers Conference next week to find an agent for my book, one (or more) of them really like my pitch and have requested my manuscript, and I have enough time before the conference ends to relay a little story.

When my husband and I went to a weekend retreat of sorts to the adoption agency we eventually used to find our daughter, one of the speakers told the room, filled with couples who’d gone through all sorts of medical procedures and losses over the years, that from now on, it would be a matter of when – not if – we had a baby. She said a former client, a man in his sixties who’d sat where we were sitting now, once wondered whether anyone would want him to be the father of her baby because of his age. Turns out the birthmother who chose him did so because in one of his pictures, he was wearing argyle socks. Her grandfather used to wear argyle socks. She felt her baby would be safe.

There’s so much about relationships we can’t plan. Sometimes a little faith and serendipity (there’s my favorite word!) play their part. I want the literary agent I eventually work with to give me that same sense of security those socks gave that pregnant woman.

Yes, I want the agent to specialize in narrative nonfiction and have an impressive track record and feel as passionate about my book as I do. But I also want to look at him or her and just know.

Author: thekineticpen

Freelance journalist working on a narrative nonfiction book about a woman who, after the freak death of her husband, decides to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro to deal with her grief and finds a second chance at love.

8 thoughts on “Why Literary Agents Are Like Argyle Socks

  1. I’m so happy! Thanks for letting me know.

  2. That’s the spirit, Robin. I love it! You are interviewing them and need to find the right fit for your story and you will not settle. You are finding a caretaker for your story; one who will cherish it as much as you do.Here’s to that “argyle-sock” moment when you just know!

  3. I love the idea of ‘caretaker.’ And, in keeping with the sock reference, I’ll definitely keep that in mind as I look for my literary mate! Thank you for believing in me.

  4. This is exactly what I needed to hear today. I got an encouraging rejection last week about how it wasn’t my work that was the problem, it was that the industry wasn’t taking any chances right now. And while this agent said some encouraging things about my writing… It was still a rejection. It’s been harder and harder for me to send queries these past few weeks.

    But do you know why we were chosen for our daughter? Because there was a picture of my husband and I working on a set for our theatre company. And the Birthmother just knew.

    I’ve been comparing looking for an agent to wanting a baby lately. It’s nice to hear someone else make that same comparison. And it’s a good reminder that someone is out there looking for my book.

  5. Now it’s you giving me exactly what I needed to hear today. I was at the conference when I read your message, and so am just now catching up. You are ahead of me, actually, in the query department. I am still in the editing stage (and that always seems to require more writing!)…

    I LOVE your story about how you were chosen for your daughter! How sweet. I get goosebumps when I read those words. And I like that you capitalized Birthmother.

    Thank you so much for writing. Please stay in touch – and look for the podcast I did in San Francisco when I was there…should be up in about a week or so…I’ll blog about it and post the link. I talk a lot about adoption and writing.

    Take good care.

  6. Argyle socks. I guess you just never know what tiny things about you make other people connect. More reason to just be yourself.

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