I sent my query package to an agent for whom, I thought, my first novel would be a great fit - his likes and preferences, as well as his willingness to accept first time writers without referrals or references gave me just enough hope to believe that something might just work out.
This unreasonable amount of hope, brewing until I could almost smell it, soon evaporated when I received a rejection letter via email. It was addressed to me and mentioned the title of my novel - a form rejection but at least it had some some personality. Although I really like my work, I am not exactly sure what made me think a positive response was in order when novels like The Help were rejected 60 times. Perhaps a bit too much confidence.
The letter made me rethink my approach and I returned to the questions and answers I put aside just last week, when I thought I was query ready.
Aside from the obvious (does the agent handle the type / genre of my novel, does he accept unsolicited submissions), what are the key qualities and factors, or that "subjective intangible" that makes agents decide onto which pile the submission is going? For some, it is the tone of the work, for others the voice, and some just say it cannot be defined but they know it when they see it. Writing aside, a novel has to have a certain something that connects with the agent and what is a star submission for someone may be a nightmare for another.
Going back to my list of agents, it is that certain something I have to identify in the books they represent. Then I may be on the right track.